I think Bob Basso is brilliant. A tip of the tri-cornered hat to him for his energetic portrayal of Thomas Paine! Basso’s anger, convictions, and beliefs are clear and compelling. His costume is resplendent and convincing.
While good, it is not his acting skill or his clothing that I think is brilliant. Neither do I think brilliant his literal message promoting uniculture and anti-tolerance with the goal of arousing the citizenry toward a second revolution to “stop the destruction of America.” What is brilliant, in my mind, is the conversion of an American icon away from its original meaning into its near polar opposite and the recognition of how effective that is in reducing the quality of public discourse into simplified ideological myths that are to be followed rather than understood.
Thomas Paine was an American revolutionary, thinker, intellectual, activist, and author of one of the most popular and important books ever published. Thomas Edison writes that, literally, there might not have been an American Revolution without Thomas Paine and Common Sense. Being highly skeptical of powerful institutions – governmental, corporate, aristocratic, and religious – he was a grass roots rebel. His skepticism and concern arose from his convictions about democracy: that a ruling elite shouldn’t have power over a larger underclass; that there should be free, universal, public education; that science and justice should not be subjugated to politics or religion; and that women should have equal rights. He argued for concepts and themes that included a living/minimum wage, government medical assistance, housing assistance, social security, food assistance, and more. He was against offensive wars. Read more