Watch Actors Do A Reading Of Steve Bannon's Insane Rap Musical About The L.A. Riots
Before Steve Bannon had ascended to the White House (and before his possible descent), he was just like any other mortal human toiling in Hollywood: his aspirations were in filmmaking, and he'd actually followed through with some of them by co-producing Anthony Hopkins' Titus in 1999.
Among his less successful ventures in cinema? A script about the L.A. riots titled The Thing I Am. And if that's not bonkers enough for you, take note that it was penned as a rap musical. The script, written in the late 1990s, was never treated to a full-scale production, which leads us to wonder: could Bannon have been the first Lin-Manuel Miranda in an alternate universe? (Answer: No, keep reading...)
The script was dug up by Now This, which tasked a group of actors to do a table read. As you can see in the video above, there are moments of disbelief among the cast, but they try their best to keep a straight face—a daunting task, as the script includes gems such as:
"Hey, motherf--cker, YOU. What you think...YOU. As the great d--k of this...assembly?"
"Did you call me—"
Another note about the script: it was penned as a Shakespearean play as well, framed through the lens of Coriolanus, based on the life of Roman leader Caius Marcius Coriolanus. In Coriolanus, the eponymous war general guides the Roman Republic to a victory over the Volscians. Consequently, his people would laud his character and plead with him to campaign for election. He refuses, however, and is chased out of town (tough crowd!). He then teams up with the Volscians to do battle with his homeland.
As noted at the New York Times, Coriolanus has served as a kind of Rorschach test for political radicals, who take different meanings from the play, depending on where their sympathies lie:
In the last century, two interpretations held particular force: one that glorifies the Roman general as the heroic strongman his country needs (a view so popular in Hitler’s Third Reich that the American occupation banned the play in Germany after World War II), and another that sees the Roman mob as a necessary corrective to the greedy excesses of the ruling elite (a view common in Soviet-era adaptations).
All this, with hip-hop interspersed throughout. Julia Jones, who helped co-write the script, told the Daily Beast that she (along with one of Bannon's assistants) penned most of the rap lyrics. “Steve [then] added stuff—all the ‘dudes’ are him,” said Jones. “It’s not strictly rap. It’s more Shakespeare in rap [music].”
The fact the script exists is kind of crazy, to say the least. One would think that it'd require an extensive knowledge of race relations in L.A. to attempt such an undertaking. And Bannon (who'd go on to help build Breitbart News, which he lauded as a "platform for the alt-right") was, perhaps, not the ideal person to tackle the subject matter.