Crimes Against Shakespeare 010: On ‘Dumbing Down’

This has been on my mind for a while …

BH dumbing down

This is a long read – I say that on a blog where posts often hit 1,300 words, against ‘accepted wisdom’ – so apologies in advance.  YOUR blog is your blog; my blog is MY blog, and I write for catharsis and as a kind of journal, not ‘popularity’, ‘followers’, or ‘influence’.  I was tempted to temper my words with a gallery of pictures, but that didn’t feel right, either.  This post feels a little more personal than most.

In spite of, or maybe because of, constant trawling for Shakespeare-related content, I have only just found this.  Last April, Peter Marks wrote a piece for The Washington Post  (link below) suggesting that Americans are too ‘intellectually lazy’ to appreciate Shakespeare, and fearing for the future popularity of the plays.  My immediate response was ‘you think it’s bad in the US?  Try over here, where Shakespeare was born!’

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 009

“This is all the UK has to show for itself.  The situation is urgent.  Please think of others far worse off than you and give generously”

BH steven woolfe

For those who don’t know Mr Woolfe, he was hovering on the edges of glory at UKIP for a few years, challenging for the ‘leadership’ at one stage, until leaving in high dudgeon after a classy physical altercation with a colleague, and now standing as an ‘Independent’. UKIP is, for the uninitiated, the United Kingdom Independence Party – a political party of xenophobic, borderline racist, swivel-eyed loons who have done as much as anyone else to get us into this desperate Brexit mess.

Mr Woolfe is currently one of my MEPs (Member of the European Parliament).  I didn’t vote for him.  But tonight, to my shame, he represents me.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 008

WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, WIPE ART WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES BEFORE ALLOWING THE NEXT GENERATION TO HANDLE IT …

BH CSF blinding of Gloucester
‘Out, vile jelly’:  the blinding of Gloucester …

I took this picture – from King Lear – at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival back in 2012.  I often show it to pupils who try to tell me that Shakespeare is ‘boring‘.  Or indeed I give them some of the plot details from Titus Andronicus that have caused such concern of late …

It’s taken me a little while to allow this one to sink in to the extent that it became a ‘crime’, but in the Dock, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I give you no less than the English Faculty of Cambridge University (or at least some members of that august institution) …

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 007

BH hiddleston hamlet

Alas, poor Shakespeare fans …

In the dock for my latest Crime Against Shakespeare we find Kenneth Branagh and RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).

Picture the scene (if you pardon the pun) …

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 006

BH 6000

I’ve thought long and hard since I saw this article in the Guardian yesterday … and the upshot is, I’m simply not having it!

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Crimes Against Shakespeare: 005

 

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My gut reaction deserted me a little for this one, perhaps because of the subject matter, so I found myself consulting both my girlfriend and my best friend, the latter also an English teacher. Second and third opinions corroborating my initial intake of breath, and therefore I am pleased to present you my latest Crimes Against Shakespeare Award …

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 004

BH futerfas 2Alan Futerfas: because being pictured with an enormous phallic symbol sends a powerful message to the world about you …

Please, pretty please, Mr Futerfas, leave Shakespeare out of things – it doesn’t lend you any gravitas: ‘they’ will NOT, in the words of Cole Porter, “all kow-tow” …

In fact, some might be tempted to suggest you are over-compensating, and use Curtis‘ words to Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew:

‘Away, you three-inch fool”  (IV.i.23)

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