In another New York Times item about the Iron Lady, Jennifer Schuessler shows again how the demand for civility is one-sided.
“The lady’s not for turning,” Margaret Thatcher famously said in an early speech. But almost from the moment she moved into 10 Downing Street in 1979, Mrs. Thatcher, who died on Monday at 87, was most definitely for filming, recording, and generally excoriating by British artists and writers who saw a rich target in her stiff-necked conservative politics and stiffer coiffure.
From the beginning, some of the toughest depictions came from musicians. Opposition to her free-market ideology infused albums like Gang of Four’s 1979 “Entertainment!” and, in the same year, the Clash EP “Cost of Living,” the cover of which Joe Strummer reportedly wanted to include a collage featuring Mrs. Thatcher’s face and a swastika. … In 1985 Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, Kirsty McColl and other musicians founded Red Wedge, a collective aimed at forcing her to do just that.
When that effort failed, some turned to dark fantasies. In “Margaret on the Guillotine” (1988), Morrissey trilled “People like you/Make me feel so tired/ When will you die?” Elvis Costello, in “Tramp the Dirt Down” (1989), promised “When they finally put you in the ground/I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”
… Onstage Mrs. Thatcher’s presence was felt in the West End as early as 1981, when she and her husband, Denis, once spent an awkward evening at the farce “Anyone for Denis?” She received acid portrayals in plays by Alan Ayckbourn, David Hare and Peter Morgan, whose new play, “The Audience,” about Queen Elizabeth II’s meetings with her prime ministers, has drawn some criticism for its depiction of Mrs. Thatcher as a combative, racial-epithet-slinging vulgarian at frequent odds with the queen. (“What is it about the left that it attracts so many contemptible, vicious and anti-social people these days?” Lord Tebbit, one of her former cabinet ministers, said to The Telegraph.)
The news of her death hardly seems to be softening the portrayals. Tonight’s performance of “Billy Elliot,” according to a press representative, will include the usual rendition of “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher,” which includes the verse “We’ll all celebrate/’Cause it’s one day closer to your death.”