I missed this when it happened because I don't know squat about NPR, but apparently it wasn't just some Midsummer's Night Dream.
Anyways, I was kinda sad about missing the opportunity to pipe up, but then I realized that being late to commenting on something was actually this blog's mission statement, so here we go.
Shakespeare sucks. Really he does. It's terrible shit and it is foisted upon every single high school student in the english speaking world. And nearly universally loathed. First exposure to the amazing literature that teh Workes of William Shakefpeare are supposed to be elicits disgust and aversion. Maybe that's a poor metric - sort of judging books by their covers. THEY ARE FUCKING PLAYS FOR FUCKS SAKE. First response is more relevant than any of the god damn justifications that Shakespeare apologists can come up with. Fuck.
And that's the thing. Hate Shakespeare? You're an ignorant doofus obsessed with instant gratification and unable to comprehend even slight nuance. I mean, hating Shakespeare might be an understandable response from smartphone addicted teens with no life experience and brains that haven't finished forming. Because apparently there is no possible way that there can be any remotely legitimate criticism of Shakespeare.
You know what? It sucks. For all the "poetry" it is supposed to be, it blows. It lacks flow. It's so broken that it needs its own special and incredibly stilted delivery. And that delivery itself is next to goddamn useless for anything other than Shakespeare. And even with that, it doesn't even make it good - just less bad. Citation of outstanding performances - big fucking deal. I could poop on a page, but it'd still be amazing if read by Ian McKellan or Patrick Stewart. Judge the "poetry" by the delivery from mediocre actors - by average summer stock performances.
Shakespeare is all reputation. You only like it because you are supposed to. On its own merits, well it has none - so whatevers.
But what about the fact that he did it first. That so much of modern storytelling owes everything to Shakespeare's plays and without Romeo and Juliet we would never have 95% of every movie ever filmed. Bullshit. The stories and tropes used by Shakespeare are as old as time. They pre-date him by millenia. It's not like he's the originator of "star-cross'd lovers". And here's the thing - with Shakespeare, this makes the plays timeless. With anyone else it makes them derivative.
And it's not even relevant. It's good because it's old? What the fuck? I mean sure, if this were four hundred years ago and my choices for entertainment was Shakespeare, Morris Dancing or cockfighting - okay, maybe not so bad. But in this day and age? And do we also consider cockfighting the pinnacle of sport since it's contemporaneous with Shakespeare?
There is this thing about Shakespeare - bred deep into our culture - that liking Shakespeare is an inherent good, in and of itself. And it's under that light, with the automatic assumption that William Shakespeare is the greatest playwright and poet to have ever graced the planet and no one could possibly hope to come even remotely close - that all discussions of Shakespeare are had. Wheeee.
It's way worse than that though. I mean we're talking about personal preferences in literature - sure the pro-Shakespeare folks take any criticism of The Bard way too seriously, but that's no excuse for me to get allupons about his easy ride. Well I actually have a reason. All you folks who love the Shakespeare are wedded to it because of the baggage that it carries. The high brow, extremely white, ultra privileged bourgeois bullshit of it. It is from and of a very closed social structure and steeped in classism, almost invariably a flavour of classism that punches down. The dismissal of criticism of Shakespeare is just legitimizing the dismissal of people - for not being "cultured" (i.e. middle class white).
So I guess what I'm saying is that I actually hate Shakespeare mostly because of the way people defend his works. That I hate what Shakespeare represents more than I hate the plays themselves. That said, let me make this perfectly clear - I still think his plays suck.