Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Irreparable Breach

UPDATE:  6/1/11

I'm happy to report that a group of fans on both sides of the fence have started a new Phantom forum under the name of Love Should Not Divide.   Kudos to their efforts for attempting to create a safe haven for fans to have intelligent conversations that are non-judgmental in a safe environment.  Everyone should be able to express their opinions regarding matters of the Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies without the fear of retribution.  It's a step in the right direction to calm this flaming war.  Please visit and support their efforts.  Thanks.

The Phantom community is in trouble. We're in the final lair scene, and for some odd reason this picture paints a thousand words. What I'm about to write is from my heart. Like it or not, it's what I feel. It's what grieves me, and there's nothing that can be done about it. At least it certainly doesn't seem that way.

When I was first introduced to the Phantom of the Opera it held for me a bucketful of lessons, as you can see from this blog. It represented the heartache of one man, who wanted nothing more in life than to be loved. Was he a perfect man? No, he was a damaged man. Damaged by his appearance; damaged by the lack of compassion shown him; and damaged in his ability to relate to others without the use of violence to get his way.

The Phantom (aka Erik, the Opera Ghost, Angel of Music) also represents for many the psychological pain that we as humans feel as we hide behind our masks we wear every day. The story touches us. We relate to it. We relate to him. It's a timeless masterpiece that grabs hold of our heart and won't let go.

We forgive the Phantom for his indiscretions and accept him as he is. After all, he is a product of his circumstances. Until, of course, one simple kiss in a dark lair, as he's about to kill his rival, breaks the barriers of his hardened heart. It's at that moment he not only tastes Christine's lips, he tastes the meaning of unconditional love. It is the crux of the story. The murdering madman is redeemed. The show ends, and we are left to ponder where to go from here.

Well, as most of you know, Webber decided to take the story further, much to the disgruntled distaste of some fans who have become very vocal. I'm not going to point fingers, call names, or discuss tactics used, but I am going to express my feelings regarding the irreparable breach that now exists in the Phantom community over the sequel. If you're not part of the inner circle of Phantomdom, count yourself lucky. Let me enlighten you of the current state of affairs - it's war. Sides have been taken; the lines have been drawn. Most of the fire power of both sides is relegated to weapons of words, though shamefully some have stooped to using actions in the battlefield.

What's the fight about? Well, Love Never Dies, of course. What else? It began as a matter of opinion pro or con regarding the show; but now it's turned into a war between fellow fans that were once lighting candles together in the lair. We no longer have anything in common with each other. You're either for it or you're against it. The fellowship is broken. How sad. How very, very sad.

The world of Phantom for me these days holds little joy. The story that I once loved, and frankly still do, seems somehow hypocritical in many ways. The compassion is gone; the acceptance is no longer there; and the words spoken by Erik in Leroux, "I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!" has somehow lost its joy. The tears that Christine wept over Erik have dried folks, and like this picture she's in the middle trying to keep the peace between the angry Phantom and Raoul or in this case the lovers and haters of the sequel.

Will the lair of fans ever be the same again? Will we ever stop bitching at each other in forums, Facebook, or Twitter battlefields? Will this continue for years and years as Love Never Dies keeps opening in other venues worldwide? I have little hope that anything will change, and because of that reason I sometimes wonder why bother to stay in this strife-filled environment day after day that frankly grieves me to the core. It's draining.

What happiness I once tasted in this story has somehow turned bitter in my mouth, and I don't know what to do about it. There's an irreparable breach in the Phantom community that I don't think will ever heal.

Did it have to happen? I don't believe it did, frankly. I think things could have gone down differently had we remembered to keep the entire meaning of the story in our hearts as we dealt with each other through our disagreements. Somehow though the message got lost in translation. The unconditional love that Erik wished for, isn't there anymore guys. It died somewhere along the way, because we felt our opinions were more important than the message. Erik has reverted to his old self of getting what he wants no matter who gets hurt in the process.

I felt the need to express my feelings about the current state of affairs, but I don't feel the need to open this post up for comments. The damage is done in the lair. Perhaps what we need is a repeat of the final scene in each of our lives. If that were the answer, I'm sure Christine would gladly run to all of you and plant a kiss on your lips, because we've become that "pitiful creature of darkness" and remind you that love is stronger than hate.

Will the Phantom community redeem itself? Well, that my friend is up to you.