Steve Bannon’s past continues to be fascinating, for the seeming contradictions represented by his onetime progressivism, for the crude appeal of discovering how he transformed into a festering mound of liver spots and in-grown neck hairs, and for the overwhelming artistic ambitions he once harbored. These delusions of genius are perhaps best encapsulated by the story of his attempt to remake Shakespeare’s Coriolanus as a rap musical about the Los Angeles riots entitled The Thing I Am. While we’ve eagerly gobbled up pull quotes from it for months, the entire manuscript has now been discovered by NowThis. Seizing upon the moment, they have organized a full table read of the document, and it is really something to behold.
The cast fares well against Bannon’s garbled Shakespearean dialog, intoning lines like, “South Central is the belly; you, niggas, its mutinous member” with aplomb. At one point, actress Nyima Funk says, “Bitch, please! It becomes a man. Breasts nursing look no lovelier than when a forehead spits forth blood,” then, breaking character, adds, “Sorry, this is the first time I’ve ever said anything like this. We should talk like this more often.” It ends with a bunch of ”gangsters” bearing Coriolanus’ body into hell.
It’s total nonsense, with characters named Baby Gangsta and Stink Eye and one character described in the script with this flourish: “Abandon hope all ye who fuck with her.” For all its incomprehensibility, it’s delighted by itself, exuding the unmistakeable scent of a writer high on their own supply, eager to share their polished and sparkling insecurities and delusions with the world because they’re convinced that they’re universal profundities. In that sense, it’s not far off from the low-budget one-man classics of trash cinema like The Room, Birdemic, or Fateful Findings, only this time shot through with the sort of racist, dick-obsessed eschatology that has seized our government. The Trump administration is uniquely capable of creating such works, it seems.
Anyway, someone please make this with a green screen and some costumes. These actors killed it, but the full thing deserves a wide audience. In the meantime, view the table reading at NowThis, along with the rest of its film series on Bannon’s sordid past.