Gratuities at Your Discretion

“Opera is, in fact, a quite close cousin to video gaming or porn, in that the storytelling really is not much more than an excuse for a bunch of insanely gifted singers to belt out a succession of heart-rending crowd-pleaser torch songs. Ditto, to some extent, Shakespeare – let’s face it, you’re not at a production of Lear or Othello or Macbeth to see how the story comes out. You’re in it for the visceral thrill of the language, the delivery of soliloquies and declamations, the soaring, gut-wrenching sight of those time-worn characters getting wrung out and destroyed in iambic pentameter glory. But no-one talks about gratuitous chunks of metered verse, or gratuitous extended melodic range, because to do so would force a reassessment of what’s really going on. You’d get short shrift if, like me, you bellyached about all the gratuitous singing and dancing in a Bollywood movie – that’s part of the conventions of the form, you’d be told. You have to tune up, you have to take a more culturally sophisticated approach to these things.

Damn straight, we do.

All of us.”

—Richard K. Morgan, “Gratuities at Your Discretion.” April 5, 2016.