The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

Anatomy of a Column


eggy Noonan was sitting in her kitchen, and mumbled “it’s morning in America” to the life-size cut out of Ronald Wilson Reagan (“the greatest president of the last half of the last century, probably the greatest president ever”) as she quaffed her orange juice. “Vodka, “ she giggled, “it’s not just for breakfast.”

Peggy stumbled to her feet, her ample calves being sore from last night’s singalong with “West Side Story” down at her favorite new watering hole, The Chelsea Pier, where she had decided in a madcap moment to play the role of Anita and hoofed-up a storm. Her nemesis the 6-foot Nancy Reagan (“complete with five-o’clock shadow, just like the real one”) had played Maria. Noonan was amused to note that she was still wearing her 1950s-era skirt with petticoats, and had a big bow in her hair, slatternly drooping to one side.

Noonan turned to Dutch and reported sadly to her old boss,

The new “West Side Story” is, so far, a box-office flop. Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated remake of the landmark 1961 musical received rave reviews and has been called a masterpiece. Yet its first weekend theatrical release yielded only $10.5 million, which Variety called “a dismal result for a movie of its scale and scope.”

Noonan hummed off key Somewhere —hoping Ronnie would get the hint— and continued, pondered why the new version isn’t a smash hit:

What happened? The entertainment press has offered possible explanations. With new coronavirus variants emerging, people don’t feel comfortable in theaters. The audience for musicals skews older, the demographic with most reason to be timid. It’s the casting: No one’s ever heard of the stars. Ticket prices are too high. People are out shopping. Who wants to see a remake of a classic? Maybe the audience for movie musicals is simply over.
There’s probably something to all of these.

The speechwriter in her rose from the shallow depths of her soul and she declared what really went wrong with the film:

One is that some who’d be part of the movie’s natural audience might not have gone because they assumed it would be woke because most of what comes out of Hollywood is woke, and they experience wokeness as a form of intellectual and moral harassment. People don’t want to see something they love traduced, so they’d stay away.

The Dutch cutout grinned at Noonan, and addressed her. “Peggy, “America” the song Anita sings is as woke as it gets, it’s all about American ideals and failure to achieve them. It’s probably the most American song ever.”

Noonan’s hand, ever birdlike, fluttered up to her pearl necklace, a gift from the great man himself, and blushing agreed with him:

It’s not woke, it’s wonderful.

(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature of lo! many, many years where we parody the much-quoted Reagan hagiographer Peggy Noonan to try to understand the genesis of her Declarations column in the WSJ. We do not know if Noonan really knows the words to “Somewhere”, but to paraphrase the Great Writer herself, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.” – Bacardi Lifetime Achievement Winner, Peggy Noonan, Wall St. Journal, April 2000.)

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17 Responses to The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

  1. “Maybe the audience for movie musicals is simply over.” Screw that, Peggington. a couple of weekends ago, we saw performance of Little Shop Of Horrors – no big stars- that was simply delightful, the theater was sold out and the cast received a long, loud standing ovation. Maybe – just spitballing here- modern crowds find WSS to be tired and the racist overtones to be distasteful. Or, maybe you’re just WRONG. I know I have no plans to visit a movie theater in the near or even mid future, and maybe the rest of the audience is feeling Meh, they know the movie and the songs and other versions can be found until the Spielbergian Overdone is into the streaming cues if they really care enough. MAYBE it was just a bad idea that only happened because Spielberg gets his way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tengrain says:

    It’s an instant classic (class-ick?) column in that she declares the problem is that it is “woke” —whatever that means!— and then declares it is not woke.

    She must have had seconds on her breakfast.



    Liked by 2 people

  3. quakerinabasement says:

    “…shallow depths of her soul…”

    Understated gem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Woke”

    Yes a musical about Puerto Rican and White gangs fighting over turf in a changing urban demographic landscape would never fly with todays anti-woke audience…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Jimmy T says:

    I saw West Side Story in Tokyo Japan at the age of 12 at a Japanese theatre. The movie was subtitled in Japanese, and that was a little distracting, but it was clearly a great movie. My dad was a navy pilot stationed in Japan, and the entire family moved there for three years. It was an epic experience for a kid, and I got a new brother and sister (adopted) out of it…

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Parfigliano says:

    I didn’t know this sow was still alive.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. roket says:

    Broadway plays for the unwoke are called tragedies except for Sleeping Beauty maybe. A hero’s journey is usually all about epiphanies and waking and such and also doesn’t involve dumbing down so stick with journalizing and drop the Broadway play critic BS.


  8. Meremark says:

    Encore, made minstrel, encore! Reagan must die.


  9. Richard Portman says:

    Thanks! I recommend watching “Fresno” a spoof by Carol Burnett.


  10. Racer X says:

    “they assumed it would be woke because most of what comes out of Hollywood is woke…” Can someone please translate this for me? I have no idea what she means here…


    • MDavis says:

      I’ll take a guess.
      TFG has complained about Hollywood and how they have a liberal agenda, they don’t appreciate him, they should just play more of the Apprentice, ratings (wish no one had ever explained ratings to him, yech) et cetera, etcetera. (Nod to The King and I – since this started with a musical)

      Therefore, whenever some movie has not met investor expectation it must be time to choose a buzzword from his rants and apply liberally (heh) to the offending product.

      Also, since it is meaningless drivel based on the word of the week from Q-bert, proceeding to say the opposite in the next sentence isn’t losing track of your thesis, it is simply covering your base, er, bases.


  11. pagan in repose says:

    “Old McDonald had a farm, ye i, ye i, oh. And on this farm he had a woke, ye i, ye i, o. A little woke here, a little woke there, a little woke everywhere, ye i ye i oh my…”

    That is what I imagine Peggy was singing as she wrote her Christmas lump of coal story about the horror of hollywood wokeness theater shows.


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