“Motivation in drama always leans toward the irrational.” This was something my father, Jeff Corey, was fond of saying about acting but I’m beginning to think it applies perfectly to our current political environment. In his recently published memoir, “Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act” he writes, “
“The tragic flaw, according to Aristotle, is derived from Hamartia [the error in judgment of an erstwhile heroic character] and from Hubris [arrogant self-assuredness]. In the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides the function of the chorus is to underscore that there is no second chance and no redemption. The ego, to sustain itself, embraces a system of beliefs compatible with itself and validates that system through all manner of experience. We literally see what we have come to believe. In real life that can cause trouble. In theater it begets drama.”
Over the past year, it has often occurred to me that Trump and the GOP would be better off if they had read the Greeks and had an even vague understanding of the power of Hamartia and Hubris. But sadly, America is not theater and the Greeks are long gone. Instead we have our own Attic tragedy playing centerstage in American politics, saturated in arrogant self-assuredness and aligned with so many errors in judgment it is impossible to keep up.
In 1951 when my father made the decision to resist the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), he did so understanding that eventually these men who postured and positioned themselves as righteous Americans would one day be viewed as dross—garbage floating on a sea of Hubris and Hamartia. It took ten years for the Hollywood blacklist to end but ultimately, my father was the one who was victorious.
Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence, led by the mother of all Hubris, Mitch McConnell, will be judged by history. In the meantime, America has a voice. We are the Greek chorus that alerts the audience that there are no second chances. While I leave redemption to the fates, it is our patriotic duty to make sure anyone who colluded with Russia or laundered money slinks into the dark annals of the history books while we, like my father and his resistance to the Hollywood blacklist, stand strong. It’s the very least this tragedy should do for us.