You didn’t have to be clairvoyant to see this coming:
The playwright Harold Pinter turned his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Wednesday into a furious protest of American foreign policy, saying that the U.S. not only lied to justify waging war against Iraq but also “supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship” in the past 50 years.
“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them,” Pinter said. “You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”***
But while drama represents “the search for truth,” Pinter said, politics works against truth, surrounding citizens with “a vast tapestry of lies” spun by politicians eager to cling to power.
Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not.
“I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road,” he said. “Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love.”
Pinter said it is the duty of the writer to hold self-image up to scrutiny, and the duty of citizens “to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”
Seriously, is there a conscious human being on the planet who didn’t realize the moment he had won his award he was going to use the speech as an opportunity to bash the United States? Is there one person out there who is that naive? The Nobel Committee sure knew what they were buying.
At this point, after Jimmy Carter and some of their other nominations in the fields outside of hard science, an argument could be made that bashing the US is just quid pro quo for receiving the award.
You’re right. Obviously, Pinter was given the Nobel because of his anti-American views. No one regards him as major playwright. I had never even heard of him before. Had any of you?
It’s sad that the Nobel committee has become a mouthpiece for the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party. If they could only hear all the *good news* about Iraq, all the schols that are being built, all the purple fingers of the proud Iraqi voters, they would would change their minds and start giving the award to more deserving writers, like Michael Crichton and Roger L. Simon.
Don’t be an ass with me, DougJ.
I never said he wasn’t talented, but he is hardly the only talented playwright out there. And don’t try to snark your way into stating his political views had nothing to do with the decision, because you and I both know they did.
Wow, not only are you clairvoyant, but you are also telepathic. Damn. I guess I should just be waiting for you to bend spoons and harpoon me with my desk supplies.
The US is the world’s sole superpower. With that position comes a lot of fear and envy. That being said, a lot of the critisism for the things that were done in the cold war agains global communism is justifiable. A great deal of the things that are being done in the hot war against global terrorism are also not up to what we like to promote as “American Values.” There’s a lot of anger out there. We can either dismiss it, or try to understand the root cause and deal with it.
Had the Nobel Committee only realized that its job was to not only pick a great playwright, but to pander to the sensitivities of a certain portion of American thought, I’m sure it would have chosen differently.
Oh and to follow-up my snark with a sci-fi/fantasy geerky pendanticism, you are looking for precognition not clairvoyance; generally clairvoyance is the ability to see what is happening right now just at a way a way; whereas precognition is the ability to see the future.
True, Jane. Had you even heard of this guy? There are *so many* more deserving people.
We need to hear all the good things Pinochet, Somoza, Marcos, the Shah of Iran, The Generals in Argentina during the 1980’s, etc… did for their countries with our military and financial support!
Of course I’ve heard of him.
He’s the only living playwright i could name off the top of my head. That’s an absurd criticism.
(In quizzes I answer ‘Pinter’ or ‘The Caretaker’ to all questions that appear to be about living English playwrights. It’s an OK policy.)
How on earth can you claim that this is something to do with ‘the Michael Moore wing of the Democrat party’?
Jesus. That makes Pinter’s comments about ‘self-love’ look just about spot on. This is a SWEDISH organisation. They don’t give a sh~t about the Democrats.
The truth, which is obviously outside the realms of your understanding, is that a fair proportion of people eligible for such awards around the world are likely to have strong views on US foreign policy since WWII. (Why – you think Pinochet, imperialism in Vietnam, the Contras, the Khmer Rouge were GOOD causes to support?)
Just because the committee could PREDICT this it doesn’t mean they ‘planned’ it. Should the artist’s views preclude the award? Yeah right. Why not enforce the rule with some sanctions?
How come Pinochet never got a Nobel Peace Prize? Probably because he was too pro-American.
oops – sorry DougJ – responded before I realised you were being sarcastic. Mea asshola.
Come on, ape, the guy’s a nobody. I’ll give you three other playwrights they could have given it to but didn’t, likely because of their *pro-America* political views: Edward Albee, Martin McDonagh, Christopher Durang. Not only are all three great playwrights, they all *support America in the Global War on Terror*. I wonder if that’s why they were snubbed.
What do you think the purpose of it all is, Mr. Cole? All those who criticize the US do so because of… childishness? Jealousy? Some devious political agenda? Is it possible they see a problem in the world that not enough people acknowledge?
It’s the only way to get a Nobel Prize. Didn’t you read his post?
DougJ – eh? hang on. now I really don’t know if your first post was meant to be ironic or not.
I know nothing about theatre. I’ve never see a play more modern than ‘The Tempest’. I’ve heard of Pinter, but none of the ones you mention. If you asked me, Jerry Seinfeld’s writing team deserve the award more, whatever their views on the CIA. I just don’t respect theatre.
DougJ- Now I know you can not resist queering this whole thread, but try. No one has said Pinter is not well-known. No one has said he is not talented (well- I am sure some have). However, if you think the Noble Committee was not completely aware that he would use this opportunity to launch into a political tirade, then you are not only the snarkiest human being on this website, but you are the most naive.
John, I think you’re way off base here. I think that Pinter deserved the award.
Frankly, you sound like a paranoid whack job from Free Republic when you talk about “quid pro quo for receiving the award.” And I know that you’re not really a paranoid whack job.
I’m not queering the thread here. I’m pointing out how ridiculous your position is.
So Mr. Cole, are you saying this quote is not true?
“supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship” in the past 50 years”
I am trying to be non-snarky here John, but are you really trying to say the Nobel committee seeks to hand their awards out to people who they know will bash the US in his/her acceptance speech? That is how I read your “quid pro quo for receiving the award” comment.
Umm…err… uhhh….John? Harold Pinter is arguably the greatest living playwright in the English language. Bar none. His ear for modern English, and his ability to convey threat through silence is uncanny.
In short, the only question about his Nobel prize is why it took so long to get to him.
You’re being both naive and malicious in your criticism.
“At this point, after Jimmy Carter and some of their other nominations in the fields outside of hard science, an argument could be made that bashing the US is just quid pro quo for receiving the award.”
The Bush administration has been doing everything it could, for years, to ensure that we deserve every bit of bashing.
We’re a democracy. If Bush is having people tortured, the voters are responsible.
I’m all for more tirades against the US. We’ve earned them.
” And don’t try to snark your way into stating his political views had nothing to do with the decision, because you and I both know they did.”
Why shouldn’t we be criticized, John?
For the love of everything holy, no, I do not think Pinter was awarded the Nobel solely for his anti-American views. And I never said that, either.
The overall point of this post is that anyone who is surprised that Pinter took an opportunity to bash the US is a fool.
And DougJ queered the thread from the get go.
Actually, demi, the Nobel is total crap in many ways. Look at the people who have won it and consider some who haven’t — James Joyce comes to mind. I realize this is reaching far, far into the past but did you know that for the first ten years of the Nobel Mark Twain, and Tolstoy were still alive. That for the first five Ibsen (who is Scandinavian, no less) was. And that for the first 28, Thomas Hardy was around. And none of them got the Nobel. Arguably, the greatest American writer, greatest Russian writer, second greatest playwright, and, I don’t know where you rank Hardy, but he’s certainly a giant of English literature. And none of them got it despite being eligible (and nominated by their countries repeatedly).
And DougJ continues on. Your snark is funny when you are not intentionally misrepresenting someone’s views, Doug.
John, what you said was
Which suggests (and in a weasely, “there are some who say”/”an argument could be made” kind of way) that you think he didn’t deserve it. Come on, own up to it and stop blaming me.
That last one wasn’t snark! I really disapprove of the Nobel Prize in literature, seriously.
Aren’t these the people who gave peace prizes to Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat?
We’re lucky they didn’t give the Literature prize to Danielle Steele.
DougJ–And Einstein got his for the photoelectric effect, not special rel. And Bethe got his for the proton-proton chain, not the hydrogen bomb mechanism. And Rosmary Franklin was unmentioned in the Watson-Crick award.
Again, the question I’m asking is why Pinter didn’t get it sooner, not why he got it. If you want a political prize, look at last year’s prize, which was given to a relatively weak writer who is a woman from Sub-Saharan Africa.
John — I don’t think DougJ is snarking in his response to me. He’s right — the omission of either Ibsen or Joyce was criminal. That is, at least in part, because the Committee seems to think that commercial success in incompatible with greatness in literature. (You should notice that Tolkein never won the Prize. You don’t have to think much of his writing to recognize that he created an entire genre of literature.)
If you really want to see right-wingers get the vapors, we could discuss Rigoberta Menchu. Just mentioning the name sends David Horowitz reaching for his nitro pills.
You’ll have to forgive John, but it really does seem like you are saying that for there to be a Nobel prize awarded outside of a hard science the award winner is chosen for their willingness to bash the U.S.
When did we start allowing foreign people to express their views?
This Pinter person needs to be shut down, pronto.
This sort of thing is hurting our troops.
Since the majority of the western world, including most of the Americans in this country, and nearly (of the citizens of) all of our western allies, do not really support the iraqi war, chances are pretty good that whoever you give the nobel prize to is going to be anti-US.
Moreoever, since the Nobel Prizes generally require intelligence to win, you’ve further increased the chances that the winner ain’t buying what Bush is selling.
And Don Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney arent going to take home the prize for peace anytime soon
is that what you consider “bashing”?
i’m boggled, truly i am.
This kind of speech is doubly hurtful because it’s true. Which is yet another reason it should not be allowed.
Does the Nobel prize committee issue a statement each year as follows:
“The following, and noone else, merits the award”?
If they don’t, then some of these comments are confusing.
THey can’t be expected to have unerring judgement about posterity’s aesthetic judgement. Who reads Bergson now (exept students of proust)?
BTW – I think Galsworthy was always commercially successful. As, I’d guess, were quite a lot of the others (Yeats? Hesse? Steinbeck?)
Skipping Twain for ten years is egregious. Skipping Ibsen for twenty-plus is horrific. Skipping Tolkein is not (I don’t think that he’s all that good a writer.) Etc.
I was under the impression that Yeats and Steinbeck were not tremendously successful. I don’t know about Galsworth or Hesse; I’ll be willing to accept that they were.
Wake me up when Sam Shepard wins the prize.
I think Pinter’s better, but you certainly have a point.
I think it’s sad that so many people–and they tend to be highly disproportionally Republican–think that mentioning some of the great many, *ahem* unsavory things this country has done over the years makes one an “America hater” or part of the “blame America first crowd” (I like the sheer stupidity of that meme) or what have you. Was Pinter incorrect in what he said? No. The United States did all of those things. And many more. It’s a pathetic state of affairs when the truth must be tarred as “unpatriotic.”
Telling the truth is not America-bashing.
John, you really are a horrible person. I mean, why would anyone want to see a loathesome shnook like David Horowitz…with…the…vapo…
Hmm. Now that you mention it…
Hey, let’s talk about Rigoberta Menchu! I think she was completely honest, don’t you?
Dear DougJ, I’ve heard of Harold Pinter. Of course, I’m a librarian so that kinda makes the point moot. But I’ve seen his plays, I can remember seeing the Dumb Waiter in my youth, so neener neener.
But I do think Pinter went overboard with with tirade acceptance speech. Dude, Harold ole buddy, leave the anti-American taunting for the Peace Prize winner, ‘kay? Okay…
I don’t blame the Nobel Prize Committee as much as I blame the Bush Administration for the overseas anger vented toward the U.S. nowadays. This is more a result of Bush’s heavy-handed foriegn policy practices of lies, bullying, human rights violations and overall arrogance.
Personally, I don’t really care if Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I’m still waiting for the Nobel Prize people to start considering science fiction and fantasy writers. C’mon, people, there’s not wrong with Ursula Le Guin or Iain Banks, dammit! I’m sick of these poets and playwrights and snobbish artistic wannabes! I wanna see you nominate people I actually read!
C’mon, Paul, this is the *Nobel* we’re talking about. If anyone outside the committee has ever read it, it is ineligible, you know that.
Maybe the pulitzer prized commity will reconsiter awarding it to another person other then that jerk pinter