Jonah Goldberg - Townhall.com
January 12, 2018
There's a great scene in the wonderful 1982 movie "My Favorite Year," which is set in 1954. Peter O'Toole plays a semi-washed-up actor named Alan Swann, famous for swashbuckling roles. For reasons too complicated to explain here, Swann tries to shimmy down the side of a building using a fire hose. He ends up dangling just below a cocktail party on a balcony. Two stockbrokers are chatting when one of them notices Swann swinging below them. "I think Alan Swann is beneath us!" he exclaims.
The second stockbroker replies: "Of course he's beneath us. He's an actor."
It may be hard for some people to get the joke these days, but for most of human history, actors were considered low-class. They were akin to carnies, grifters, hookers and other riffraff.
In ancient Rome, actors were often slaves. In feudal Japan, Kabuki actors were sometimes available to the theatergoers as prostitutes -- a practice not uncommon among theater troupes in the American Wild West. In 17th century England, France and America, theaters were widely considered dens of iniquity, turpitude and crapulence. Under Oliver Cromwell's Puritan dictatorship, the theaters were forced to close to improve moral hygiene.…