Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Thing About Madama Butterfly

If you are like most people I know, you are way into telling me that you want to come see an opera with me, and want me to tell you all about it, but in the way that you and I both know this is never going to happen. That's cool. I'm going to tell you about Madama Butterfly anyway.

(SPOILER ALERT!!! But not really! Because it's kind of famous!)

Madama Butterfly is maybe one of the most rage inducing works of fiction ever. Most people will tell you it's really sad- I, however, will tell you that it will mostly make you feel like punching someone in the face. Two people, really. The fictional person Lt. Pinkerton, and the real life person, Rivers Cuomo. The latter, I name, because he named a whole Weezer album Pinkerton, and totally romanticized Lt. Pinkerton, which is way the hell horrifying (even more horrifying than the uncomfortably racist lyrics! Almost!) when you know the story.

Ok, so, Pinkerton is a naval officer from the United States- and he's all fascinated with all things Japanese. If it had been the 1990's, he would have been one of those dudes who never shut up about anime ever. He also would have been that one dude you know who went to Japan to teach English, and pretended that it was totally because he wanted to help people, and experience a new culture rather than the fact that he has creepy misogynistic and racist ideas about how things are there. Oh, and like, every time anyone says anything about eating sushi, he would go on for at least five minutes about how it's soooo much better in Japan as though you wouldn't have guessed that. I mean, they invented it, and they certainly have more access to fresh seafood thank we do in Chicago, so that's fairly obvious. Then you're like "Fine, whatever, I'm sure it's way awesome in Japan. I'm so sorry that I feel like having a tempura shrimp roll this evening, Debbie Downer." And then he orders in Japanese even though the waitress is from Iowa. Lt. Pinkerton is that guy.

So, yeah, he's that dude. And he tells his friend that he likes it there so much that he is going to lease a place there for 99 years with an option to cancel every month. Because, he says, that's how shit goes down in Japan.

Then he sees this chick Cio Cio San, and she's like, the hottest lady ever. Plus, the girl can sing. So can everyone though, being that this is an opera. So, he sends his rental agent down to tell Cio Cio San that he wants to marry her, with the same arrangement he has in mind with his house that he's renting. His friend, not being a douchebag, is like "Hey. That girl has feelings. You probably shouldn't do that to her." So Pinkerton is all "Oh, no, she totally knows what's up. That's how they do things down here. I should know, as I have seen lots of tentacle porn and have eaten lots of high quality authentic sushi." And his friend is all "Errr.... I think you might be wrong and sort of racist and ignorant, but whatevs."

So, anyway, they meet and she's like "My name means Butterfly in English. My family used to have money, but they lost it all and now I have to be a Geisha. Guess how old I am? FIFTEEN!"

Fifteen, people. Fifteen. That's not gross or anything. Then she's like "I brought all my stuff! Including the sword my dad used to kill himself like a month ago! In no way am I in any kind of fragile state of mind! ALSO- I am so excited to be marrying you that I converted to Christianity, and pissed off my entire family by doing so, yesterday."

So, they have a wedding, and during the wedding he's all hangin' out in secret with his crew and he's like "Heeeeeeyyyyy my fellow Americans! Let's toast to the time in the future where I'll have a REAL wedding! To an American bride who is not this chick!" But then, after the wedding, he's like "Oh my god. We are so in love. It's crazy how totally in love with you I am! Love love love love love! For real. In love. With you. The fifteen year old I met three days ago. You + Me 4EVA."

And then they live happily ever after! EXCEPT NOT AT ALL. Because one day he says "Hey Butterfly, going out for a pack of smokes! In America! Be back soon!"

Dude takes his time. Lots of time. Time in which the rent is supposed to be paid, time in which she has his BABY. And every morning she'd get up and look for him, and every night she'd pine for him... for like FOUR YEARS. That's some dedication people. Her maid is all "Seriously, dude is NOT coming back." But Butterfly believes that he will. Totally believes it. She sings this song about it, and this song will make you sob uncontrollably, sob to the point where you have snot running down your face and kind of feel like you might puke:


So, yeah, weirdly, Butterfly is right and dude does come back. Except that he comes back... WITH HIS WIFE. Some chick he married during the four years he was away in America. No, really. She was all pining, and raising his kid, and he comes back with a new wife! That sure is a thing that people who aren't the worst people ever do.

So his friend who is not so much of a jerk is all "Uh... HEY. Remember that time you married that 15 year old girl? Whhhelllll.... She's been pining for you for four freakin' years. Also, she has a kid. So! What is the worst thing a person could possibly do in this situation? If you guessed "Ask new wife to go to old wife and ask her to hand the baby over!" than you would be correct. That is what happens. New wife comes and tells Butterfly that she's poor and should probably give them the kid to raise. That's cool with you, right? After all, I am a fancy white lady! Yay imperialism!?!?!

But Butterfly is not cool with that. At least not until Lt. Pinkerton will come and see her (?????). Which he does, and then she gives him the kid, and then she kills herself with her Dad's suicide knife thing.

Now, personally, that is not the way I would have handled this situation. If anyone were going to be dying by a suicide knife thing, it would not be me. It would so not be me. It would probably be his testicles. And then him. That is how I roll.

So that is the story of how Lt. Pinkerton is the worst. He is worse than the most objectionable dudes I've ever dated, he is worse than any dude on any episode of "Cheaters" or "Judge Judy" that I've seen, and he probably sucks more than your ex. You can talk about him at cocktail parties.