The Beauties & The Beasts #14

PATHOS Penpal Project

Deutsch-Amerikanischer Briefaustausch zwischen Antigone Akgün (DE) und John L. Peacock (USA)

Im Rahmen der Reihe «King Kong und die weissen Frauen»

Howdy Antigone,

Thank you so much for your last letter! It was so insightful, and I see so many parallels to what is happening here. Citizenship is such a big deal out here in the United States, especially when it comes to people immigrating to us. That’s an irony that can only be chopped up to the systemic white supremacy in our country, as we’re all quite recent immigrants, the earliest of us coming over a mere couple hundred years ago, and the only natives of this land we shove into reservations and a form of forced poverty, and we say it’s payment for us taking their land. Aside from the many native tribes, who we give little to no power in this country, we immigrants talk about the horror of immigrants coming to our country, calling it patriotism to not have to acknowledge the racism and xenophobia that it is. And, to add to it, our system is set up so that less than 10% of Americans have passports, so even thinking of finding citizenship elsewhere feels ludicrous to the mainstream. Whereas Europe has a system of being able to migrate from country to country, we got American Pride. So, I fully understand you when you talk about people being dubbed with the “migrant” label for their whole lives because of their look or name being different than “normal” citizens, as this is what my country seems to be, still, built upon. Things are changing, yes, but the backlash from the hard right stalls most progress before it can take long-term hold. So, to that end, I also really hope that Germany does push forward, beyond the hard right backlash seen in far too many countries these days, and elect someone who can be a true successor to Merkel, with rational thought and action as their focus when leading. Inclusive is a great word for it.
My home state is Arizona, next to California and touching part of the northern border of Mexico. We had a sheriff for nearly thirty years that pushed xenophobia and championed laws in that state that were considered by the international community as “Apartheid laws.” This led to many feeling justified in the inhumane treatment of immigrants, leading to hate crimes that were praised for being a “good American” and defending one’s home, one’s homeland from the “invading immigrants.” This disgusts me, and though that man was finally voted out of office and convicted of anti-human crimes, he was then pardoned by our ex Prez, and cited by that orange sadism toy as being a “true patriot.” So, even as recently as a few years ago, our systemic white supremacy was openly rewarded, praised, and protected from the law…oh wait, I guess there are strong cases of that happening in our country in 2021 (January 6th, for example). But, things are changing, things are changing, things are changing (a mantra of mine that may be merely a placebo, but it helps).
Yeah, I fully agree with you that art does not, nor should ever, have to harm or manipulate people, and when these acts are presented as art they are merely variations on the theme of Abuse of Power. Out here with such hierarchical systems such as professional theater we are told very early on that we must “Pay our dues” as younger artists. Even if there is a level of genuine truth in this statement, it opens up the doors to abusers to abuse and get away with it with the umbrella rationale of those being abused feeling “Well, this is me paying my dues.” In high school drama, we joked about the “casting couch” and normalized it, and this “paying my dues,” I’m sure, has led so many to continue the cycle of abuse (having been abused and then turning around once they have power to abuse others) under this guise: “I paid my dues, so they have to pay theirs.” Yes, we must break these cycles with open dialogues, communal conversations, rooting out abuse, and beginning to heal as a whole. Things are changing…
President Biden has promised the possibility of vaccination to all Americans by the early summer, and with the numbers of vaccine availability rising daily it seems he may actually make good on this promise. With that timeframe, New York City has said come April 1st we’ll be able to have gatherings of 100 people indoors, 200 people outdoors, and is laying the foundation for live theater to return to the city. Congrats on the analog rehearsals! I still can’t see what my first in-person performance will look like, so I still ignore the calls for auditions out of my own anxiety, but I’m thrilled that there’s a light at the end of this very dark pandemic tunnel! On that note, I want to wish you well, and hope you’ll be able to stay safe and healthy. I very much look forward to your next letter!


Jon L Peacock



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