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Misaimed Fandom: Theatre
Examples of Misaimed Fandom for characters in Theatre.
  • Bertolt Brecht: Inventor of Epic Theater, staunch hater of Capitalism, and victim of terrible Misaimed Fandom.
    • When The Threepenny Opera first premiered in Berlin in 1928, it was a satirical indictment of the bourgeoisie, although it was wildly popular with this particular social class.
    • Similarly, it seems strange how "The Ballad of Mack the Knife" (from said opera) transformed from an eerie depiction of a serial killer/rapist/arsonist/thief to a happy-go-lucky jazz standard. The badass lyrics and neat meter are probably responsible (not to mention how many jazzy singers are linked with the Mafia).
      • However, the tune by which we know said ballad is not the one Brecht intended for it. He had a general policy against songs that were pleasant to listen to.
      • It certainly doesn't help that most kids born in 1975 or later are only familiar with the tune via the zany McDonald's parody "It's Mac Tonight!"
    • Another example is the song "What Keeps A Man Alive?", which is a lyrical Freudian Excuse about how poverty leads to savagery in order to survive. Brecht condemned this attitude, as in practice, it meant that the poor would prey on one another rather than organizing and bettering their condition. This was missed at people that took the message at face value.
    • Mother Courage from the play Mother Courage and Her Children. Admired by the audience for her courage, perseverance, and resourcefulness — but Brecht wanted the audience to see her as a hard, unappealing person who puts financial security ahead of the safety of her children. This is not to say that Brecht wanted the audience see her as a villain or that he didn't want them to feel any pity or sympathy for her—rather, he wanted the audience to become outraged about how capitalism and war (which he saw as just an extension of capitalism) forced people to choose between personal survival and being a decent human being.
  • The Threepenny Opera is a remake of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, which was as much a victim of Misaimed Fandom as Brecht's version. It was originally meant as a satire of both Italian opera and English society, but was seen by most as just a rollicking good time. Even sixty years later, Boswell and Johnson were debating about what exactly it was supposed to have satirized.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Dear LORD! Of all the revenge tales that get a lot of fans due to the central character and how apparently "cool" he is, this one sticks out most. People idolized him (and still do idolize him) and thought he was cool for being vengeful, for slitting people's throats, often going "I wish Sweeney would slit my throat!". Problem is, Stephen Sondheim wrote him to be a total psychopath. This is especially lampshaded in the line, "and I will get him back even as he gloats/in the mean time, I'll practice on less honourable throats." He is just as bigoted and flawed as the "filth of the earth" that he claims there are. Not to mention the message about revenge being just as horrible as the deed done to trigger it should be made clear when he unknowingly kills his own wife at the end of the musical. But nope, people marvel at how "awesome" Sweeney is, wish they were him or that they were as cool as him, and quote him multiple times.
  • Of course, William Shakespeare's works have attracted a misaimed fandom:
    • Falstaff, a lazy fat drunk whose main purpose in the Henry IV trilogy was to show how dissipated Prince Hal really was, became so popular that (according to legend) Shakespeare was asked by Elizabeth I to write a comedy around him, which is how we got The Merry Wives of Windsor. (The Queen probably didn't make that request, but she might as well have; audiences really were clamoring to see more of Falstaff.)
      • Though Falstaff's devastating critiques of war, martial glory, and honor resonate so heavily that some readers forgive him his faults because his faults don't send untold numbers to be killed. This claim can't be made of Henry and the others. Falstaff's amazing take-down of Henry and honor here is simply brilliant.
    • Take a close look at Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. An anti-Semitic caricature, or a tragic satire thereof? The characterisation of Shylock is just interestingly complicated enough (unlike the totally monstrous caricature in The Jew of Malta, for example) that it allows modern readers to re-interpret the anti-Semitism that undoubtedly was originally in the play and recast the whole thing around Shylock. Most modern productions do some editing, for instance omitting Shylock being forced to convert at the end.
      • "Hath not a Jew eyes..." in particular - most scholars agree that the purpose of this soliloquy is to demonstrate that Shylock does not actually understand what a human being is, since the only trait he describes unique to humans is vengeance, a vice associated with Jews. Now it's usually treated as a showcase of his humanity and how he's been wronged by Christianity.
      • ...Yet the main characters are just as sneaky and/or vengeful as Shylock is. This is really less Misaimed Fandom and more simple YMMV. The social conventions of the time also feed into it, making it much harder to take Shylock at face value.
    • Romeo and Juliet gets two helpings of this, usually because people who talk about it seem to have not read it. One the one hand, you get the Misaimed Fandom who seems not to realize that Romeo and Juliet die, and it's a tragedy (hence, it is called The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, seriously). On the other hand, you have people who assume it's not actually a love story and that Romeo and Juliet are just stupid teenagers who should have listened to their parents, even though those parents are too busy being locked in a completely pointless feud to really do any sort of parenting (which is a big cause of why Romeo and Juliet's relationship is doomed) and even though their lines about being in love are some of the best poetry Shakespeare's written. Romeo and Juliet mishandled their love for each other, but they were in love.
    • Iago in Othello is cruel, manipulative, abusive towards his wife, a murderer, and is quite possibly a compulsive liar. There's a popular theory that he might be a homosexual who was jealous of Desdemona and in love with Othello, though supposedly his motivation in the play is he is jealous because he wasn't promoted. Iago is an extremely early example of a Draco in Leather Pants character. Edmund from King Lear gets this, too.
    • The "All the world's a stage" monologue from As You Like It has its own entire Misaimed Fandom. Jaques, the character that delivers it, is very specifically not a character that is supposed to be taken seriously.
    • Same thing for "To thine own self be true" from Hamlet. Though it IS good advice, only those who have bothered reading the play will remember that when uttered by the scheming Polonius, it's a source of verbal irony. Not only that, during the Victorian times, the eponymous character was thought of as a noble, Too Good for This Sinful Earth victim.
      • On the same note, "Brevity is the soul of wit"...
    • Also, Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech is a favorite of many Straw Nihilists who don't realize Shakespeare used it to show how twisted and desperate the protagonist has become.
      • Since it comes immediately after he learns of the death of his wife, it presumably shows the eponymous character going into a Villainous BSOD, rather than being a bold statement of considered philosophy.
    • From Twelfth Night: "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." Some people take this quote seriously, rather than a load of crap fed to a stuck-up jerk to get him to make a fool of himself.
  • The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera has a dreadfully Misaimed Fandom. In the book, he was so deformed as to be compared to a walking corpse. In the musical, he's as sensual as can be. He gets about as much of this as every other villain who has a tendency towards Magnificent Bastardry and a fair amount of Fetish Fuel in their build, really. But somewhere along the line (around the time Gerard Butler played him, actually) some people forgot that the Phantom's primary physical characteristic is that he's ugly as Hell. Nothing causes more of a collective facepalm in the phan community than someone saying something like "I didn't like the silent movie; the Phantom was so hideous!"
    • It gets even worse when fans ship the Phantom with Christine and go on about how Raoul (who was an aspiring Arctic explorer in the book) is boring and less attractive and that Christine is an evil tease for choosing him by the end. Because heaven forbid a woman marry her sweet childhood friend instead of the raving murderous madman who stalked her, scared her half to death, and threatened to kill her boyfriend if she didn't marry him. The sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Love Never Dies, handled this matter by turning poor Raoul into a gambling addict and alcoholic and again raising the possibility of the Phantom and Christing getting together, ultimately making the misaimed fandom pairing the legit one. The existence of the show serves as a massive Base Breaker in the phan community largely because of this - those who view it as a legitimate sequel come into conflict with those who think it shouldn't be taken seriously, making this a case where the misaimed phandom have almost withdrawn entirely from the community at large to form their own groups.
  • The popular image of "Method Acting" comes from acting theorist Lee Strasberg and his method that was largely popular with American film actors in the 1950s. Strasberg's method was largely based on the method developed by Russian Constantin Stanislavski. Stanislavski is considered the father of modern acting, and his ideas are the basic method taught to virtually all acting students in the West. However, the text Lee Strasberg based his method on were poor translations of Stanislavski's original books. Furthermore, Stanislavski made major revisions to his method later in life. When he contacted Strasberg years later and attempted to correct these errors, Strasberg simply said he didn't care. So, the modern image of the pretentious "Method Actor" comes from an outdated, misunderstood technique.
    • Consequently, while Stanislavkis' method (complete with revisions) is the foundation for virtually every acting student in the US, many professional actors think of Strasberg's "Method Acting" as something of a joke.
  • One extremely famous piece of Misaimed Fandom sprung up around the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. Shaw had originally written the play illustrating that Henry Higgins and Eliza were no good for one another and could never get married (and he included a feminist slant by having Eliza end up with Freddy Eynsford-Hill, whom she had some control over, as opposed to bowing to Henry Higgins' every will and whim). Practically since its debut people have attempted to change the story to make it more of a romance between Henry Higgins and Eliza, something Shaw did not take kindly to.
    • Shaw himself has one, mostly from people who think that, as a Socialist, he was anti-Imperialist. He wasn't; he was in favor of the Boer War, for instance, and virulently opposed to Irish independence.
  • In the mid-1800s, the people of Northern Italy (who at the time were under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) came to consider Giuseppe Verdi's opera Nabucco (specifically the chorus piece Va Pensiero) as a manifesto in favour of Italian unification. It was nothing of the sort.
    • Va pensiero is still considered an unofficial national anthem of Italy. One has to recall that in the 1800s messages had to be hidden, often quite deeply, to go under the political censors' radar, and that Verdi owed part of his early popularity to the fact that his name could be used as an acronym, allowing people to cheer "Viva Verdi!" = "Viva Vittorio Emanuele, re d ' Italia!" (Long live Victor Emanuel, king of Italy).
  • Das Wild in Fluren und Triften from Der Freischütz has often been said to glorify war, mostly by various stripes of Nazi. A particularly notable example is from Hellsing. The song is really about Cuno, the head forester, trying to cheer up Max, one of his subordinates, who, because of his failure in a recent shooting-match, may stand to lose both his position and the woman he loves, by speaking of the trial-shot the next day. The title even means "The game in meadows and pastures".
  • In the original production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando's depiction of Stanley Kowalski ended up making Kowalski more sympathetic, even though he was a wife-beating rapist. Williams ended up revising the play to give Kowalski a bigger role and to make him a more complex character.
  • Nazi and Neo-Nazi Wagner fans. Wagner was indeed anti-Semitic, but believed that Jews should assimilate culturally and convert to Christianity, not that they should be wiped off the face of the Earth. He had a number of Jewish friends, including conductors of his operas. But the association of Wagner with Nazism has become so ubiquitous that some people who don't check their facts think Wagner actually was a Nazi, despite the fact that he died before Hitler was even born. Some Jewish couples take this to the point of not playing Wagner's most famous composition at their wedding. It doesn't help that Hitler himself saw Wagner's operas as ringing endorsements of Nazism, and that many of Wagner's descendants from that time were close friends of Hitler and approved of his interpretation.
  • The Tea Party likes to use "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" from Cabaret as a rally song for "taking back the country." It is unknown how many of them know that the song was used to symbolically represent the rise of Nazi Germany. (This is partly Adaptation Displacement: in the stage version, the song only became associated with Nazis in a reprise.)
    • "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" already suffers from Misaimed Fandom by actual Neo-Nazis.
  • In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's version of Faust, there's a scene in the restaurant "Auerbach's Cellar" where Faust and Mephistopheles meet a group of drunken students. One of them states "I praise my Leipzig! It's a little Paris and educates its people." Later used verbatim by many fans of the city in Saxony; however, they all forget that the guy saying this is drunken, as said, and also named "Bürger Frosch" (citizen frog), and rather supposed to be a Jerk Ass like Archie Bunker. Oh wait, Bunker actually had the same problem.
    • Again Goethe's Faust: "Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie / Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum." ("Dear friend, all theory is gray / And green the golden tree of life.") is a popular quote. It also sounds nice. Only problem: The guy saying it is Mephistopheles.
      • In both cases the quote is probably regarded as the important thing and as essentially true (the devil does not have to lie all the time). And while Leipzig (home of one of Germany's oldest universities that was not just Goethe's alma mater) may use the first quote to advertise itself, there was never a fandom for the character of Bürger Frosch. Mephisto does have a bit of a fandom, however, and the actual Auerbachs Keller has erected statues of him and Faust next to its entrance.
  • Some fans of Wicked actually believe that Wicked is the actual story of what happened and hate on The Wizard of Oz, and making the Wicked Witch out as a total victim, and Glinda as a manipulative Chess Master. This was not Gregory Maguire's intention in the book the play is based on. He stated he wanted to heighten the mystery of the witch, not explain her. Elphaba is actually an Anti-Hero and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. What makes it even worse is that Wicked/Wizard Of Oz is not a chicken/egg situation. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its famous movie adaptation came first.
    • This depends a lot on whether you consider the book Wicked to be a different story from the musical Wicked - which a lot of people who are only fans of one of those do. In the musical, Elphaba is a fairly straightforward hero, albeit a Knight in Sour Armor and ultimately a Tragic Hero. Fans who consider Glinda to be manipulative and evil are definitely misguided, though; Glinda was good and a true friend to Elphaba, even though she was the Wizard's Puppet King.
    • Much of Elphaba's negative traits are removed in the musical. In the book, Elphaba began as a Knight in Sour Armor, but after leaving Shiz, she became a Well-Intentioned Extremist and was ultimately Driven to Villainy, and did in fact become evil. In the musical, she just gets really, really, angry but snaps out of it and reconciles with Glinda.
  • Henrik Ibsen's intention in A Dolls House was to show that Humans Are Flawed no matter what their gender/social class/etc. are. Allegedly, when a group of Norwegian feminists praised the play in words that sounded a lot like what radfems say in modern times, Ibsen's reaction was summed up in a Flat "What.".

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