Questions of Pleasure and Value

“Cultural Studies and the Questions of Pleasure and Value.” By David Shumway. The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies (Michael Bèrubè, Ed.). Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.


Myers’s first produced work, Atwater: Fixin’ to Die, tells the story of Republican political consultant Lee Atwater, relying mainly on Atwater’s own words. The play offers so little overt judgement of its protagonist that is was as popular with Atwater supporters in South Caroline as it was with his detractors in New York. The very genre of the play seems to depend on the viewer’s perspective.


If the playwright’s politics are ambiguous in Atwater, the title of Dead of Night: The Execution of Fred Hampton makes Myer’s position in that work as plain as day. Here Myers used the FBI’s own files, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that show the Bureau to have planned the Chicago Black Panther leader’s murder in 1969. But if that is the most striking historical interpretation that the play offers, it is not its dramatic focus. The central character is neither Hampton not one of his government antagonists, but William O’Neal, the FBI informer who infiltrated the Panthers and helped the feds to arrange the attack. (from p.113-4)