No stakes, not relatable. I think I'm realizing: Shakespeare sucks.
July 30, 2014 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Ira Glass tweeted that John Lithgow was "amazing" as King Lear in Central Park, but added, "Shakespeare: not good. No stakes, not relatable. I think I'm realizing: Shakespeare sucks." Then ProPublica reporter Lois Beckett had an idea: This American Lear.
posted by Etrigan (272 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
#TeamIra. I can enjoy Shakespeare done well, but that tends to be more based on production values and acting then the text.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:28 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man I always knew there was some reason I hated Ira Glass.
posted by winna at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2014 [46 favorites]


As flies to wanton boys is the Bard to Ira Glass.
posted by maxsparber at 11:30 AM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think I'm realizing: Shakespeare sucks.

Realized and verified many years ago.
posted by Rash at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2014


I have been trying the Virtual Lottery every day because I don't have extra time to wait on the line. I am therefore jealous of Ira Glass, because I assume that he got the tickets because he is a celebrity. Way to waste the tickets.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Ira Glass: not good. No sense, not relatable. I think I'm realizing: Ira sucks.
posted by markkraft at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [33 favorites]


In more earnest anti-Shakespeare news, Joseph Fink, creator of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, called for a moratorium on productions of Shakespeare to encourage new playwrights and new art.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


"Shakespeare: not good. No stakes, not relatable. I think I'm realizing: Shakespeare sucks."

God, he even tweets like Ira Glass.
posted by glhaynes at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [56 favorites]


"Our tragedy today, in five acts..."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


"Realized and verified many years ago."

Rash: not good...
posted by markkraft at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


All this time clearly Shakespeare was missing the occasional 10 seconds of interstitial banjo music.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2014 [82 favorites]


Speaking of Lear, John Lithgow has been writing a series on the NYTimes ArtsBeat blog about his experience doing "King Lear" in Central Park and it is great (entries are newest to oldest).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:35 AM on July 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


Oh. No. I love Ira Glass the most but he needs to take a fucking seat.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2014 [33 favorites]


Maybe if they had put a bed of DJ Shadow under every act he would like it more.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:37 AM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


IRA: "My family's a little dramatic. Yours may be, too. But there are some families that are just MORE DRAMATIC than everyone else's..."

I slow-clapped on this tweet. I've never seen Glass's delivery nailed so perfectly in text.

I love TAL & Ira Glass, and I'm very upset with him right now (except for the part at the end where he's not sure his statements are defensible).

I think the danger with Shakespeare is the "be all, end all" attitude/reverence for him. A world of theatre that contained only Shakespeare would be a pretty dire place. But a world of theatre without it? Just as dire in my opinion.
posted by obfuscation at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm waiting for Act 2.

Reference Multiball!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just goes to show that you really have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.
posted by markkraft at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


If it wasn't good, Kate Beaton wouldn't have been able to make this awesome set of comics out of it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I hope one day I will suck after totally dominating Western literature for hundreds of years.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2014 [51 favorites]


Attention-seeking contrarianism. Study Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear and The Tempest and you can learn everything there is to learn about the human psyche.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Speaking of Lear, John Lithgow has been writing a series on the NYTimes ArtsBeat blog about his experience doing "King Lear" in Central Park and it is great (entries are newest to oldest).

This is fantastic. Sometimes I think Metafilter should have some way of promoting comments into the OP for stuff like this.
posted by selfnoise at 11:40 AM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Shakespeare: not good. No stakes, not relatable. I think I'm realizing: Shakespeare sucks."

Also he has no wireless and less space than a Nomad. Lame.
posted by The Bellman at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


Shakespeare: not good. No stakes, not relatable.

Is this dumb swagger I see before me?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2014 [50 favorites]


Saying Shakespeare sucks is sophomoric, and I expect better from someone like Ira Glass.

Maybe you could argue that Shakespeare is more revered than he deserves, that his works are perhaps more famous than they are actually understood - You could try to knock Shakespeare down a few pegs - but to out-right say his work has "no stakes" and is "not relatable" is ridiculous. Those are the words of a chump.
posted by Flood at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2014 [56 favorites]


King Lear is okay but I wouldn't set him so far above Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Damnit Ira. Act V is one of the very best TAL episodes.
posted by kmz at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Perhaps he wants a happy ending, like Nahum Tate.

Tate's worldview, and that of the theatrical world that embraced (and demanded) his "happy ending" versions of the Bard's tragic works (such as King Lear and Romeo and Juliet) for over a century, arose from a profoundly different sense of morality in society and of the role that theatre and art should play within that society. Tate's versions of Shakespeare see the responsibility of theatre as a transformative agent for positive change by holding a moral mirror up to our baser instincts. Tate's versions of what we now consider some of the Bard's greatest works dominated the stage throughout the 18th century precisely because the Ages of Enlightenment and Reason found Shakespeare's "tragic vision" immoral, and his tragic works unstageable.

Tate is seldom performed today, though in 1985, the Riverside Shakespeare Company mounted a successful production of The History of King Lear at The Shakespeare Center, heralded by some as a "Lear for the Age of Ronald Reagan.".

posted by vacapinta at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


To paraphrase the great Stewart Lee:

"This American Life: Where mawkish cloying sentimentality passes for entertainment."
posted by belarius at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


Can Lithgow's performance really be all that good if it's not relatable? I find this performance in Slings & Arrows pretty relatable.
posted by fivebells at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Ira Glass' sins, great and small, in aggregate, do not irritate me a fraction as much as Alyssa Rosenberg's continued use of the royal we. Alyssa, you're far from the worst pop culture writer out there (throw a dart at the AV Club's front page on any random day), but own your fucking opinions, please.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've always found Ira Glass annoying, but with this he's gone full obnoxious.

You never go full obnoxious.
posted by brundlefly at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


"In an entirely unrelated note, Ira Glass was just given a column on Slate."
posted by selfnoise at 11:47 AM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Out, out, brief artisan candle!
This American Life's but a walking shadow.
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the air,
And then is heard endlessly in repeats.
It is a tale haltingly told by an idiot,
full of ambient sound and whimsy,
Signifying nothing.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:47 AM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


I think Ira Glass has just as much a right to tweet indefensible, off-the-cuff opinions about Shakespeare as I do.
posted by silby at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not relatable?

Not relatable, he says. Hey Ira, maybe the problem is you, huh?
posted by Bookhouse at 11:49 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hate letting myself get trolled like that.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The fault, dear Ira, is not in our Shakespeare, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
posted by graymouser at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


At least George Bernard Shaw had the good grace to write an entire puppet show about how he was better than Shakespeare.

He really did.
posted by maxsparber at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Not relatable, he says. Hey Ira, maybe the problem is you, huh?

Maybe if he spoke in iambic pentameter like the rest of us he would change his tune.
posted by brundlefly at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2014


Shit. I should have written that comment in iambic pentameter.
posted by brundlefly at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


I started counting syllables and then realized how badly you had screwed the pooch.
posted by maxsparber at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


TMBG said it best...
I'm sick of this American Life.
posted by Jernau at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


You think now you might come over this rumbling of your jordans. You think you can bear it, but my devilish plan goes far deeper. Now after you've already been rused to infinity this letter discomforts you to a new level of discomfort. In the moment you are reading what I wrote you realize how pathetic you are, How useless you are. With every single word of you, your very SOUL gets crushed. Your soul is now demolished. God can't take you to heaven, and Satan does not want demolished slaves. Your soul is permanently banished from a real afterlife. Your soul already tried to escape your body. But your soul cannot escape into the eternal spheres thus it will be stuck in a permanent sate of dying.

Every day you will suffer thinking of a way to escape this almost deadly RUSED, but it is too late, You are RUSED FOREVER! Yes by dear fellow, I know you want to know who is responsible for this. I will tell you my story now. I don't know where I'm from, but I know I was the first to exist. I was alone but soon a few people followed. We made a circle called MASTER RUSEMAN. Only real MASTER RUSERS were allowed to join this exquisite circle. We agreed that we will never decide who is the best MASTER RUSEMAN. But after some time I found a way to lead my fellow comrades into a tricky situation. I claimed that I'm the best MASTER RUSEMAN in the circle. It didn't take long till everyones jacobs were rommled. After they found out what exquisite trickery was played on them, they agreed to give the one who caused this discomfort the title GOD OF RUSE. Now you finally realize what huge impact this ruse had. You never thought that you will be, in fact, rused by a god.

Somehow you feel honored. Honored to get your gustavons jingled by the god of all MASTER RUSEMAN.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, I was wondering if this was going to make the Blue. This has been blowing up my Facebook feed which is comprised mostly of a) New York liberals and b) theater people.

When this first showed up on a friends' feed, I observed that "NPR nerds vs. theater nerds would be the geekiest fight ever."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you want Twitter to be vibrant and spontaneous and interesting, the best thing to do is definitely to impose swift, lasting punishment on anyone who says something dumb that hurts absolutely nobody, even if he immediately essentially tells you he didn't mean for it to be taken particularly seriously.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Man, I assumed he was joking, but that follow-up tweet about Mark Rylance makes me wonder.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014


Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the #dogsOfWar
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Shakespeare sucks? Wow. What a pathetic and lazy sentiment. I can see making the case that our culture has moved too far in a direction to the point that Shakespeare is too hard and too foreign to our modern ears (though I would disagree and argue that many of the plays are timeless and reflect problems we still deal with today). But to say he sucks? To claim that it is not relatable or unemotional is simply dumbfounding. There's a reason people have been performing and attending his plays for the last 400 years, and it is because they are relatable and emotionally resonant.

Lear not relatable? Not emotional? It's probably the most painful and emotionally anguishing thing that Shakespeare wrote. When he is begging his children to love him, how can we not empathize and pity this old man? When he is cursing his daughter Goneril to sterility, how many of us have not known that horrible rage against a love one? Yes, Lear is mad, and we may like to think we are not. We may not think we are lost out on the fringes, but we can all easily get there. How can one not connect with "ripeness is all"?

Shakespeare sucks? This is the kind of stuff I expect from a 9th grader who'd rather play Xbox than work his way through a play.
posted by dios at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


I mean, Bill Shakespeare is good, but he's no Mike Daisey, am I right?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


...called for a moratorium on productions of Shakespeare to encourage new playwrights and new art.

Thing is, there are lots of playwrights churning-out new plays all the time. But, theater companies have to sell tickets to stay alive and old Bill is a relatively sure thing to put butts in the seats. Or, to attract wealthy benefactors.

See also: Local orchestras rarely playing anything newer than early-19th century works.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:55 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


But Ira says Shakespeare was capricious
and Ira is an honorable man.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


The longer Ira Glass keeps talking, the more I realize Lynda Barry was right.
posted by scody at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2014 [34 favorites]


This is fantastic. Sometimes I think Metafilter should have some way of promoting comments into the OP for stuff like this.

Don't say this, even in jest. That way lies the dark pit of reddit.

I used to dislike Shakespeare too, because I was forced to read some plays in high school. I went back and reread them as an adult, and was blown away. There's a reason why his work has survived so long and spread so far, and I think relatability is exactly the reason people from Tokyo to Buenos Aires still enjoy his work.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apropos of nothing: was Sleepwalk With Me any good? TAL was promoting the hell out of it last year, but I got the impression that it kinda sunk without a trace.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:58 AM on July 30, 2014


But I think what this is getting at is that...um...probably a lot of people would say "of course Shakespeare does not suck" without actually having any kind of developed reasoning or experience about why they feel that Shakespeare does not suck. [for this purpose, let's leave out "Shakespeare was influential on other writers" - mere influence does not necessarily equate with "does not suck".]

I mean, I've read a reasonable chunk of Shakespeare, have seen a reasonable number of both standard and experimental performances (including a really pretty good Lear during which the audience was walked from room to room, we sat on the floor, there was lots of stuff with shadow puppets, etc) and yet I wouldn't say that I find Shakespeare relateable and indeed don't really have a lot of strong opinions one way or the other. My believe in the non-suck of Shakespeare is pretty much entirely received wisdom.

By contrast, for instance, I can actually say "I think Proust is great because [reasons reasons reasons] and I find myself moved by [various things in Proust] and to sum up [summary statement about Proust based on what I've read and thought about]". I really don't have any particularly coherent thoughts about Shakespeare, even though I've probably read way more about him than about Proust.

I don't think this in fact boils down to "Shakespeare sucks", but I do think that it's very easy to assume that Shakespeare is all important and deep and so on without actually having a genuine response to any actual Shakespeare.

In terms of "debunking the debunking of Shakespear", Orwell's essay Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool is pretty interesting.
posted by Frowner at 11:58 AM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you want Twitter to be vibrant and spontaneous and interesting, the best thing to do is definitely to impose swift, lasting punishment on anyone who says something dumb that hurts absolutely nobody, even if he immediately essentially tells you he didn't mean for it to be taken particularly seriously.

"swift, lasting punishment"?? The hell?
posted by kmz at 11:58 AM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Twelfth Night might be more his speed. A pair of twins are separated in an accident; the sister becomes a transvestite and works for a local potentate, who has her woo a prominent lady he's interested in; said lady, however, falls for said sister, while said sister falls for said potentate; the brother appears and the lady, thinking he's the sister (but a man), marries him, and the sister (now revealed to be a woman) and the potentate end up marrying too. All the while the lady's uncle and servants go about pranking her pompous butler. That sounds like a pretty episode of TAL, don't you think?
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tolstoy too though the Bard not very good. But then he had the excuse of trying to vie for number one in the world of writing...Glass hardly approaches that competition. Even student I had at one time, when they badmouthed Shakespeare, had enough smarts not to say he sucks.
posted by Postroad at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2014


If you want Twitter to be vibrant and spontaneous and interesting, the best thing to do is...

But what if I want to kill it?
posted by General Tonic at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Not relatable? To borrow a phrase from "Midwinter's Tale" (which does not seem to be available anywhere for love nor money, which is a damn shame): "Hamlet is this desk. Hamlet is every thought you've ever had about geology."

I had a professor in college who claimed the real way to understand Shakespeare was to get drunk before watching it, maybe Mr Glass would enjoy it that way?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2014


It is a tale haltingly told by an idiot,
full of ambient sound and whimsy,


I thought that was Radiolab.
posted by mykescipark at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2014 [27 favorites]


impose swift, lasting punishment on anyone who says something dumb that hurts absolutely nobody,

The swift, lasting punishment of paying attention to the things he chooses to say?
posted by phearlez at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I used to think Shakespeare sucked. Then I turned fourteen.
posted by Decani at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


You know, I can totally picture Hamlet's soliloquy read in the style of Ira Glass. Somebody get on this.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I find King Lear incredibly relatable. Here I am, looking for a new job, and I was just thinking the other day that this is so much how it is. You walk into an interview and you're honest about things, and you like the place, and everything really ought to be good, but is it? Well, no, because there's always somebody out there who's better at spewing bullshit than you are. And on the other hand, when you're the one getting fed that bullshit, it is so tempting to believe that someone really does think those things, that someone does love you that much, and by the time you've realized that they were lying to you, your life's in ruins. I guess I envy people who haven't been through the sorts of things that make this relatable.

But I do very much agree that we can't just get caught up in the writers of centuries ago and ignore the brilliance of people who'd like to be creating new things today. And I think it's enough to just say that, not that the old stuff sucks, but we've already studied the old stuff to death and why don't we try something new.
posted by Sequence at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


My believe in the non-suck of Shakespeare is pretty much entirely received wisdom.

In this situation, isn't that sufficient, though? His work has stood for centuries and is still enjoyed around the world. Surely there must be something there that speaks to people and causes them to continue to have a genuine response to his plays or else they would have fallen by the wayside long ago like so many others.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm highly amused at all the vitriol this is sparking. And I am a fan of both Shakespeare and Ira Glass.
posted by Librarypt at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: The best thing to do is to impose swift, lasting punishment
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:03 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"swift, lasting punishment"?? The hell?

Yeah, I think Ira Glass is going to be just fine.

(And following links from this, I found that TAL is going to be launching a half-hour serialized show. Inadvertent maybe, but still no such thing as bad publicity.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


"swift, lasting punishment"?? The hell?

Didn't expect that, eh?

THAT'S BECAUSE NO ONE EXPECTS THE SHAKESPEARE INQUISITION!
posted by octobersurprise at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


"swift, lasting punishment"?? The hell?

It's hyperbole. You can even find it in Shakespeare!
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


In this situation, isn't that sufficient, though? His work has stood for centuries and is still enjoyed around the world.

Millions of smokers can't be wrong.
posted by Librarypt at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2014


I direct a Shakespeare all the time. To date, I've directed 11 of his plays and will be directing a 12th next year. I'd say I've directed two awful productions, four excellent productions (one of which my supporters say was classic, but I think was just good) and five that were somewhere between mediocre and good. My reviews suggest I have a much better track record than this and my detractors suggest I've a much worse record than this. Who can say?

Well, they all can. Everyone reacts to stuff their own way and such is life. I have to listen to my own opinion though and treat all others (good or ill) with a critical eye. If I hear the same opinion many times or an opinion that rings true to me, I take it seriously, for good or ill.

The least useful feedback is "that was great" followed closely by "that sucks." What does that mean? Why is it great? Why does it suck?

Glass is welcome to say it sucks. He's also welcome to say its not relatable to him. But claiming there's no stakes in the text of Lear is just flat out, objectively wrong. Maybe there's no stakes in a specific production (and it's much easier to critique a dead man than wonderful John Lithgow) but the stakes in Lear are quite literally life, death and the future of a whole society. Perhaps there are no stakes that are relatable to him because he's never lost a child or never felt betrayed by his family or never dealt with senility and that rage that goes along with relinquishing your authority, but whoa the stakes in Lear are profound and I dare say nigh universal.

It's interesting. I get many different kinds of audience members, but I get two kinds in particular that fascinate me. The first are the grumpy cats who come to a comedy and listen to everyone laugh the whole way through and then complain "that wasn't really Shakespeare," as if the play isn't functioning if people have a good time. The second is a group of people who resolutely insist they didn't get what was going on but then, upon questioning, can explain the whole plot, the jokes, the characters, etc, as if the fact that there were a few words they didn't understand trumps the fact that they did, in fact, understand the play completely.

My point is audience members don't always even know what's going on in their own head, or why they're reacting certain ways, or why they even necessarily like something. Glass, I think, doesn't understand why he doesn't like this show - extrapolating from his tweet, the fact that he can't relate to these characters is why he can't understand the stakes. I'd argue that is a reaction to the production, but as I've demonstrated I'm a pretty big fan of Shakespeare.

Dear lord, he's not perfect and some of his plays genuinely suck and there's a ton of other classical writers from all countries who deserve more attention (especially some of the female playwrights that have been largely ignored), and of course Twitter is not a platform for nuanced discussion, but saying he sucks is just silly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2014 [37 favorites]


Millions of smokers can't be wrong.

They aren't. Smoking does make you feel good. It's also bad for you and those around you. I guess if Shakespeare were proven to cause cancer we should rethink staging his plays.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


The longer Ira Glass keeps talking, the more I realize Lynda Barry was right.
Glass says, “I was an idiot. I was in the wrong. About the breakup. About the haircut story. About so many things with her. Anything bad she says about me I can confirm.”


OK, I can relate to him again.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


A while back I was lucky enough to plunk down 5 quid day of show to see Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, and an amazing cast in Twelfth Night.
The first time I saw this show was long before that and it was good but didn't stick with me.
This performance was amazing and not just because of Rylance & Fry. A scene between Duke Orsino and Viola/Cesario I would have thought might get played for laughs - you know Har Har Duke dude likes that dude who is really a lady and that Duke dude is he gay for the dude or not because the dude is really a chick - but you could see Orsino's affection in his face, then confusion, then acceptance and a hint of joy as he realizes he has fallen for this youth which is not what he had in mind but is indeed what has happened.

It was arrestingly lovely and touching.
posted by pointystick at 12:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Unrelatable? Unemotional?

I can only think that he must be talking about something else entirely, or that he's being contrary for the sake of being contrary.
posted by supermassive at 12:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


This American Life: At least it's not radiolab.
posted by Carillon at 12:10 PM on July 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Ira Glass' sins, great and small, in aggregate, do not irritate me a fraction as much as Alyssa Rosenberg's continued use of the royal we.
The headline, "Ira Glass and What We Get Wrong When We Talk about Shakespeare" seems to be a half-hearted riff on Raymond Carver, for some reason. Still weird and awkward, but not the royal we.
posted by Bromius at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm also amused that the internet is in a uproar over this. He's just one guy, and I think he's wrong, but Shakespeare will still be there for me to enjoy.
posted by supermassive at 12:12 PM on July 30, 2014


I am not really sure what it means for a play (or character in the play?) to be "relatable" or why we should care about relatability so much, tbh. I am a lot younger than Lear but I found the (televised!) performance I saw moving; does that count? Is that like relating to someone in a play? Christ, who the fuck cares about relating to someone in a play! Give me someone presented compellingly who's unlike me, ok?
posted by kenko at 12:12 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


the best thing to do is definitely to impose swift, lasting punishment on anyone who says something dumb that hurts absolutely nobody

Mocking tweets definitely count. Especially when you storify them. The shame, the shame, it must burn Ira Glass.
posted by jeather at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2014


Shakespeare will still be there for me to enjoy

This is how I feel when I hear Beethoven's Ode to Joy in the background of a toilet-paper commercial.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's pretty easy to punch at a dead man, even a revered dead man. It's not like Shakespeare can defend himself.

and yet I wouldn't say that I find Shakespeare relateable

Well, so? I don't find The Wire to be relateable to my life. Does David Simon suck? I can appreciate the aesthetic qualities, storytelling, and moral messages of The Wire without being a drug dealer or cop; and I can appreciate the aesthetic qualities, storytelling, and moral messages of Shakespeare plays without relating to his character's particular quandries.

I think Shakespeare is great because he is a master of tight, economical, poetic language that still sounds like speech when spoken by someone who knows what they're doing. Although many of his plot lines are derivative or straight-up rip-offs, I still find many of them to be emotionally compelling. In high school, I saw a staging of The Tempest which gender-flipped Prospero and with a simple switch, with little to no change in the language itself, had so much to say about the nature of mother-daughter relationships, power, and gender. His plays are such powerful templates for the imagination of a director and a cast. In summary, I think Shakespeare is a damn fine playwright (the greatest? I don't think anyone can be "the greatest" at anything - it's a meaningless distinction) and it will take a more thoughtful argument than "he's not relatable" to convince me otherwise.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


In this situation, isn't that sufficient, though? His work has stood for centuries and is still enjoyed around the world. Surely there must be something there that speaks to people and causes them to continue to have a genuine response to his plays or else they would have fallen by the wayside long ago like so many others.

I don't know, though. I think the question is about "how people think about and talk about writing" rather than "how can we establish a metric for deciding if something is Serious and Important"?

When I think about Shakespeare (and this is just about me personally as an exemplar of a Person Who Knows About Shakespeare At Secondhand) I think far more about things that reference Shakespeare than about actual Shakespeare. Like, I absolutely adore Angela Carter's novel Wise Children, which both works with a lot of Shakespeare plot devices (doubles, confusion about who you're really in love with, bastardy...and more!) and is actually set among generations of actors and includes the filming of a version of Midsummer Night's Dream, a bunch of stuff about Lear, actors in Hamlet, a comic revue inspired by Shakespeare...I also really like Robertson Davies's novel Tempest-Tost, and Angela Carter's novel Cat's Eye, and Orwell's writing about Shakespeare, and I cut my readerly teeth upon an edition of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. Those are all resonant for me, much more than the actual Shakespeare I've read or seen performed.

So surely the reflected glory of all those things is cast by me back on Shakespeare - ie, Shakespeare is rich for me precisely because I've read so much that draws from Shakespeare, not so much because of what I'm finding in the work itself. I like The Tempest because of Robertson Davies and some jokes about the X-men and playing chess....The Tempest is first and foremost, for me, "oh, that play where Professor Vambrace is such a prat and chokes on a grape, and the play that breaks poor old Hector Mackilwraith out of his isolation and distress".

None of this has to do with the actual content of Shakespeare's work...it's just that when we're talking about "Shakespeare has been really influential for a long time", there are a lot of aspects to that.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Millions of smokers can't be wrong.

Ahem. You obviously mean "50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong."

Also, I'm not seeing Glass as Hamlet. I'm thinking more Jacques or Holofernes. Or maybe Polonius.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The first are the grumpy cats who come to a comedy and listen to everyone laugh the whole was through and then complain "that want really Shakespeare," as if the play isn't functioning if people have a good time.

Sometimes I feel that way but it's usually when the actors go too far in trying to make sure the audience gets the jokes. A sort of mugging at the audience HAR HAR A JOKE GEDDIT.

They do it with other kinds of plays too (I saw an O'Neill play once that made me cringe with it) but actors here in America feel compelled to telegraph Shakespeare in a way that should really make the audience embarrassed that the theater people think they're so dumb.
posted by winna at 12:16 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apologies to Linda (I think her comment about "swift, lasting punishment" was sarcasm), and I should state that my crack about "NPR vs. theater" was made with affection, as I am myself both flavors of nerd. My teasing was affectionate and coming from inside the house. (I mean, I went to an acting conservatory for 3 years and was a techie for another 10. I know exactly what kind of tantrums theater people can have.)

In all seriousness - this is one of those "everyone's right" kinds of situations. You don't necessarily get Lear when you're younger, because it's not for you yet - it's a play for a much older man. I suspect that if Ira were to revisit the play when he's 76, he'd be all, "oh, wait, now I get it." It's actually kind of weird we make high schoolers read Shakespeare, if you think about it, because the only play they can really "get" at that age would be Romeo and Juliet. Because they're the age it's about. That or the fluffy comedies would be great for high school students - but most of the time they're assigned freakin' Hamlet or Julius Caesar.

Also, there are indeed specific productions of Shakespeare that themselves suck. For some reason (present company excepted, I'm sure) directors seem to go a little funny when confronted with Shakespeare, and try to come up with Production Ideas for it to stand out. Like the Macbeth I saw that was set in a Mad Max type futuristic hellscape, or Much Ado About Nothing in 1980's Gibraltar. Or Hamlet is a woman. Or they mind-meld Macbeth with Fast Food Nation. Or Hamlet is set in a fascistic alternate-history future and Laertes wears cammo stretch pants. Or...what have you.

Mind you, all but one of those examples actually worked for me - but that's the kind of weird free-association a lot of productions of Shakespeare shows take. And sometimes....they fall flat. So if you've gotten stuck watching the production where Romeo is a sock puppet or something, and the concept just doesn't work, then...you're gonna be left disappointed. So a lot of people may be blaming the playwright when it's actually the production itself that deserves the blame. But people don't always know how to spot that.

Dear lord, he's not perfect and some of his plays genuinely suck and there's a ton of other classical writers from all countries who deserve more attention (especially some of the female playwrights that have been largely ignored), and of course Twitter is not a platform for nuanced discussion, but saying he sucks is just silly.

The Guerrilla Girls actually issued a challenge in 2006 - they would grant an award to any theater company that presented a play by Hrotsvitha rather than yet another Shakespeare production.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


This American Life: At least it's not radiolab.

People who script banter are destined for Special Hell.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Or they mind-meld Macbeth with Fast Food Nation.

I burn to know if this was one of the ones that worked for you, because I own the DVD and every now and then rewatch it to try to get into it but just can't manage it.
posted by winna at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2014


The headline, "Ira Glass and What We Get Wrong When We Talk about Shakespeare" seems to be a half-hearted riff on Raymond Carver, for some reason.

Oh god I hope that's not true because that is so sad.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2014


I find this vimeo performance in Slings & Arrows pretty relatable.

I was going to say, Mr Glass needs to watch S&A. (ps we're doing a watchthrough on FanFare starting Sunday).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is Ira Glass a pod person? King Lear is one of the most relatable Shakespeare plays! It's based on a freakin' European fairy tale!

Now if he wants to argue Lear is the most depressing Shakespeare play, I will hear him out. Otherwise: POD PERSON.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Insincere endorsement: You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have heard him in the voice of Elcor.
posted by figurant at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


"This American Lear" was fun.

Also perhaps of interest: the stick-figure King Lear comic from Good Tickle Brain.

(Who had a power outage that got in the way of responding to the current kerfuffle.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2014


Makes you wonder how a person as impulsive as Ira Glass got a job hosting one of the nation's most popular radio shows.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2014


This is the stupidest argument ever.
posted by deathpanels at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can only think that he must be talking about something else entirely, or that he's being contrary for the sake of being contrary.

I guess this is kind of what I'm responding to. I like Twitter in part because people don't parse everything they say like it's a press release; it does have an off-the-cuff feeling to it. That this is a thing days after it happened, and that it's being analyzed for ulterior motives (he's trying to get attention, he's being contrary for the sake of being contrary, he's trying to get publicity for the new radio show) just seems counterproductive. It's not that it's weird to pay attention to what he says or to call him on it, and I'd feel differently if it were hurtful to somebody or offensive to somebody, but the amount of attention that this one tweet about Shakespeare, which he seems to readily agree is wildly overstating his own case, is getting is odd to me.

Of course he's going to be fine. But I absolutely think that overblown dust-ups like this lead to people being less candid, less likely to speak off the cuff, and ultimately less willing to engage in situations that aren't choreographed. It's not that it hurts him, it's that I think it makes the way public people deal with the public worse over time. This might be because I just got back from hearing a ton of presentations about fall television that are choreographed by publicists, and I wish everybody didn't feel obligated to speak off a list of talking points. So every time I see a tiny thing blown up into a big thing, I think, "This is why nobody will talk without a publicist standing there, is because even tiny things that mean nothing cannot be written off, ever." That's all.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:22 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Now if he wants to argue Lear is the most depressing Shakespeare play

It's up there. I'd put R&J right behind it. To quote Geoffrey Tennant: "Two idiots fall in love, for a while, and then all hell breaks loose."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Of course he thinks Shakespeare sucks, he's aggrieved by his inability to understand why some people prefer non-arbitrary narrative and poetic complexity to absolutely bottomless banality and solipsism. He thinks it sucks because he's an assiduously dull snob and has the aesthetic discernment of a teenaged Reader's Digest.
posted by clockzero at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


In more earnest anti-Shakespeare news, Joseph Fink, creator of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, called for a moratorium on productions of Shakespeare to encourage new playwrights and new art.


Ooooo! Ooooo! Can we get a moratorium on jukebox musicals as well? Pleeeeeeease?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I suspect that if Ira were to revisit the play when he's 76, he'd be all, "oh, wait, now I get it."

You know he'll be all "Kids today can't produce Shakespeare! I can't relate to it!"
posted by octobersurprise at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2014


This is the stupidest argument ever.

Nuh-uh!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean seriously, Shakespeare has some clunkers, but he really did have an ability to capture human tragedy and suffering (and joy) in text in a way that pretty much no other writer has done--at least not with the same kind of always-relatable longevity.

Maybe it was just a dumb off the cuff remark, but come the hell on.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here, good Ira Glass, take this for telling true:
Fair payment for foul words is more than due.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is the stupidest argument ever.

There's an argument about Nicki Minaj's ass going on next door.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something but I'm just not seeing the "vitriol" or "overblown dust-up". Mostly I'm seeing good natured ribbing and some pokes at his high successful radio show.

(It's entirely possible my vitriol meter is broken. I'm used to MRA/4chan/reddit troll campaigns against the people I follow.)
posted by kmz at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


What? I can't even.

I mean, everyone has a right to their informed opinion. Somehow, I think Ira missed the informed part.

Well, you also have a right to an uninformed opinion. Just don't expect everyone to agree with it, or to not think you are an asshole for saying something that shows your own ignorance.


Actually, what's surprising about his statement is just how much it seems to show some strange failure on his part to recognize that his own work is parallel to Shakespeare's own thrust. He made popular entertainment, telling stories and tales of drama and tragedy and comedy, and his works lasted as long as they have because they ARE relate-able, they are constantly relevant, and they have had a lasting effect upon the whole idea of popular media. The structure of modern entertainment is modeled almost entirely on the 3 (or 5) act play, which is credited as invented by Aristotle, and the pinnacle use was Shakespeare. The modern dramatic story arch is the reconstruction of the "necessary" elements derived mostly from the study of the structure of Shakespeare's works.

If Ira is missing the motivation for the actions of the characters in the plays, that is really on him for missing the context of the stories to begin with. Yes, Shakespeare is not universally relate-able to a tabla rasa mind. They require outside knowledge of the circumstances and politics of the times in which the plays are set. Just like any form of entertainment. The only stories we have that do not require this subtextual knowledge are childrens stories, and those are crafted from the knowledge that the audience are children, with limited experience of the world. Shakespeare is not for children.

Bleah. All long winded on a Wednesday. I love some of Ira's work, but to have him off-handedly take pot shots at something because he doesn't understand it is infuriating. If you don't understand something, ask for more information, instead of trying to elevate your self esteem by calling something crap. Even if you still think something isn't all it's cracked up to be, at least you can form your opinion better from a place of possible understanding. The conversation about it might even be interesting, and you might learn something new (to you) in the process.
posted by daq at 12:29 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare just needs to be updated to be more relatable to a modern audience. Picture Vin Diesel as Hamlet on Mars in the year 2500, with Michele Rodriguez as Ophelia.

Hamlet: Yo, she's like Niobe, all crying an' shit.
Horatio: Yo, Hamlet! Your dad's outside.
Hamlet: Yo, my dad's dead, yo. What?
Ghost: Yo, fuckhead, avenge me.
Hamlet: Yo dad, you're a ghost!

Hamlet: Yo, what is this bitch, some kind of Hamlet crazy?
Ophelia: Yo, fuck you, asshat.
Hamlet: Yo, why don't you go hang out at some kind of nun respository.
[Ophelia exits, jabbing both middle fingers in the air]

The final act will, of course, be a race across a Martian desert with contemporary Ford Mustangs, which have been transported to Mars and well maintained for 500 years and have an endless supply of gasoline.
posted by stavrogin at 12:29 PM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


They require outside knowledge of the circumstances and politics of the times in which the plays are set.

Not so much, otherwise we'd never see stagings of Shakespeare that aren't period.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The final act will, of course, be a race across a Martian desert with contemporary Ford Mustangs, which have been transported to Mars and well maintained for 500 years and have an endless supply of gasoline.

You had my interest. Now you have my attention.
posted by maxsparber at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I burn to know if [MacBeth/Fast Food nation] was one of the ones that worked for you, because I own the DVD and every now and then rewatch it to try to get into it but just can't manage it.

It was, but it's not the movie you're thinking of. This was a stage adaptation, which featured fast food restaurant mascots as the different characters of MacBeth - the lead was made up like Ronald McDonald, the King was Colonel Sanders, instead of the three weird sisters it was the Three Fry Guys, etc.

It was weird as all hell, but it worked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


This was a stage adaptation, which featured fast food restaurant mascots as the different characters of MacBeth - the lead was made up like Ronald McDonald, the King was Colonel Sanders, instead of the three weird sisters it was the Three Fry Guys, etc.

Shut up and take my money.

No, seriously. It sounds fascinating and weird. Like if Hunter Thompson had ever directed Shakespeare.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: There's an argument about Nicki Minaj's ass going on next door.
posted by frijole at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think he would have liked Lear more if the narrator kept breaking in to tell the audience what was about to happen right before it happened. Certainly more relatable then.
posted by Carillon at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Something tells me that the Internet will deny Ira Glass his pound of Shakespeare's flesh, and he will be given a forced conversion, anon.

(Not entirely sure what I think of this, but all's well that ends well, I guess...)
posted by markkraft at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2014


This week on American Life: Sacred Cows. Act One...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare just needs to be updated to be more relatable to a modern audience.

There are a ton of modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, almost all of them movies with some rather big name stars involved, as well as several smaller indie films that are absolutely amazing.

There are also some really fun spoofs like Tromeo and Juliet which is given the full Troma treatment, and is properly demented in it's execution.
posted by daq at 12:35 PM on July 30, 2014


I wonder if Twelfth Night might be more his speed.

Well, no, since that's the "Rylance show" he dismisses in the very next tweet.
posted by The Bellman at 12:35 PM on July 30, 2014


It was weird as all hell, but it worked.

Oh I wish I had seen that! That sounds hilarious and amazing.
posted by winna at 12:35 PM on July 30, 2014


If we didn't have King Lear, we wouldn't have , at minimum, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (the most elegant book I never want to read again) or Fool by Christopher Moore (Lear as slapstick comedy, how does it work so well, HOW). Two wildly dissimilar books based on the same thing. Nor would we have Akira Kurosawa's Ran!

I could do a thousand dreadful things to Ira Glass as willingly as one would kill a fly.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's a review of the "Fast Food Nation" mashup (they called it "McBeth").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


which featured fast food restaurant mascots as the different characters of MacBeth

Please tell me Young Siward is played by Shoney's Big Boy.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tweets. Can public discourse return to letters to the editor? Or, maybe talking to neighbors?
posted by breadbox at 12:41 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is just going to make the lines worse this weekend, isn't it?

(I like both Ira Glass and Shakespeare, fwiw.)
posted by matcha action at 12:41 PM on July 30, 2014


McBeth:

Is this a burger which I see before me?
The french fries toward my hand? Come, let me munch thee.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 12:45 PM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


It's actually kind of weird we make high schoolers read Shakespeare, if you think about it, because the only play they can really "get" at that age would be Romeo and Juliet. Because they're the age it's about. That or the fluffy comedies would be great for high school students - but most of the time they're assigned freakin' Hamlet or Julius Caesar.

I'd agree about R&J and the comedies, but I disagree about Hamlet. Hamlet I think is perfect for 17+ years old because they are going through the Hamlet experience. A key part of Hamlet is that Hamlet starts out thinking his education has given him all he needs to answer every issue. We see him using the learning he acquired at Wittenberg. We see him chewing on Isaiah, Cyrus the Great and on Boethius; aping Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man; dealing with protestant doubt and providence by reference to the gospel of Matthew; citing medical views about his mother. He is someone who thinks he can think through anything and that he by applying his learning and intellect he can arrive at an answer to the mystery of the ghost (that is, until he surrenders to providence). In other words, like everyone over the age 17, he thinks he "knows it all" but is really struggling with a dilemma still characteristic of kids today: how to make the ideas one has learned fit with their feelings and new found liberation/adulthood where you don't want to listen to direction.

Anyhow, in the modern lingo, I think Hamlet is for the 18-35 demographic. Macbeth and the wrestling over whether this is all there is to life is about middle age. Lear is about old age. They'll resonate the most with those who have experienced that stage of life, but I think they are still understandable for others.
posted by dios at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


Or how about manicpixiedreamgirl Ophelia lifts Hamlet out of his depression and teaches him how to laugh, love and live. She tragically commits suicide and a now self-actualized Hamlet murders both of their families.
posted by stavrogin at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2014


This was a stage adaptation, which featured fast food restaurant mascots as the different characters of MacBeth - the lead was made up like Ronald McDonald, the King was Colonel Sanders, instead of the three weird sisters it was the Three Fry Guys, etc.

I once drove past a restaurant called Hamburger Hamlet and desperately wanted something like this but, you know, with Hamlet -- the Hamburglar kills Mayor McCheese and the tagline is "there's something rotten in the state of McDonaldland".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:49 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oy, I know the average Metafiltarian isn't exactly on the cutting edge, but you do understand what Twitter is, right? You can barely fit half a sonnet in one of those things.

As for Ira, I kind of agree with him. I prefer my Shakespeare thrice-removed, as plots of Hollywood action films where the hithers and thons are replaced by grunting and mortar rounds.
posted by FreezBoy at 12:50 PM on July 30, 2014


I *loooooooved* Hamlet in high school. (Still do.) But I freely admit I was not your typical HS student. I think most of us also enjoyed Moonlighting's adaptation of "Taming of the Shrew," FWIW. (I guess the kids watch that movie with Heath Ledger and JGL now instead.)
posted by entropicamericana at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It always surprises me that people who find classic works of art that have been beloved and enjoyed by millions and imitated and alluded to as profound influences by the very greatest among subsequent practitioners in the same field to be wanting never seem to entertain the possibility that this might suggest something inadequate or unformed in their own understanding of the work but always seem to think that they're the little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes--the only ones who see the truth when everyone else is blinded by mere reputation.

Nobody has to like Shakespeare if for whatever reason his works don't appeal to them, but why you would be proud of that fact or wear it as a badge of honor escapes me.
posted by yoink at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


dios, you're kind of proving my point - you're saying that Hamlet is more for people who are 18 or so, but we give it to kids who are 14 or 15. It's not really for them yet. Whereas R&J - that's the exact demographic we're talking there.

(Tangent - the most arresting version of R&J I ever saw was a somewhat run-of-the-mill free-shakespeare-in-the-park production, except the actress who was playing Juliet actually played her as a 14-year-old girl - all eye-rolls and twitchiness and "omiGOD!" giggles and such. It really drove home just how achingly young the two leads were, and how tragic was their story.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2014


where the hithers and thons are replaced by grunting and mortar rounds.

Michael Bay's making pornos now? Wow, I am out of touch.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2014


Saying Shakespeare sucks is sophomoric, and I expect better from someone like Ira Glass.

Why?

It's the perfect middlebrow thing to say, said by the man who defines contemporary middlebrow culture.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:59 PM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


but we give it to kids who are 14 or 15. It's not really for them yet.

Huh, I thought I was assigned Hamlet either my junior or senior year, which seems about perfect. And I think I got Romeo & Juliet (concluded with a showing of West Side Story) in my freshman or sophomore year, which I agree is about perfect. Maybe they are giving Hamlet to kids younger than that now. I don't know. My kids aren't quite there yet.
posted by dios at 1:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought MacBeth went over pretty well in my senior year English class. Nice and bloodthirsty, all about impulsiveness and the price of ambition, plus a sweet fight scene.

Sophomore year we were actually assigned Dante's Inferno. Talk about unrelatable!

Oy, I know the average Metafiltarian isn't exactly on the cutting edge, but you do understand what Twitter is, right? You can barely fit half a sonnet in one of those things.

...in other words not the best place to try to discuss what one finds unappealing or "sucky" about some work of art.
posted by muddgirl at 1:01 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Orwell's essay Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool is pretty interesting.

Damn, that was good.
posted by fivebells at 1:02 PM on July 30, 2014


I just saw in one of those links that Glass was at this performance with Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow. So if you spent the night listening to Apatow reminding everyone how hot his wife is and Schumer telling jokes about how slutty she is or pedophilia ("I finally just slept with my high school crush. But I swear; now he expects me to go to his graduation - like I know where I'm going to be in three years."), perhaps King Lear might be seriously discordant.
posted by dios at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2014


Well, there appears to be an army of bushi gathering outside of Glass' fortress, so perhaps he might like to reconsider his opinions on how relatable it is.


Or maybe he'd like to talk shit about the Scottish play, and see how that works out for him.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sophomore year we were actually assigned Dante's Inferno. Talk about unrelatable!

Isn't sophomore year the eighth circle?
posted by yoink at 1:17 PM on July 30, 2014


I thought I was assigned Hamlet either my junior or senior year, which seems about perfect. And I think I got Romeo & Juliet (concluded with a showing of West Side Story) in my freshman or sophomore year, which I agree is about perfect. Maybe they are giving Hamlet to kids younger than that now.

It may be a your-mileage-may-vary thing. Some schools make that choice based on age - but I think others make that choice based on educational level (i.e., the AP kids get Hamlet, the average kids get R&J, etc.) or some other factors. I remember a conversation once with a kid in Junior High here in New York who had just been assigned Julius Caesar (he dug it).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on July 30, 2014


Shakespeare doesn't suck, but it seems to me like there is a lot of other literature that also doesn't suck.

Maybe not having the barrier of 500 years of changed language and culture to contend with when trying to encourage kids to appreciate the written word might be something to think about. And I'm not talking about effing Our Town or The Great Gatsby either.
posted by Foosnark at 1:18 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shakespeare doesn't suck, but it seems to me like there is a lot of other literature that also doesn't suck.

You don't have to convince us - you'd have to convince your average school board.

...and if memory serves: good luck with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I manage to like TAL despite the fact that there are too many shows that feature underlings lickspittling about their "boss" and despite the fact that I do not respect some of the choices Ira Glass has made about his dog and despite the fact that I miss most of what he says in his monologues because I can't listen to him without screaming all the words with Ls in them after he says them. I have to do this to scrub my memory clean of those weird glottal upchuck sounds he has decided are better than the sounds that Ls make. I know he can say Ls but chooses not to. I know this because he dated Linda Barry, and if he'd introduced her as "gwrinda, the ghetto girwrw who gave me a mean case of the headgrwice," she would have kicked his head off his neck for him and eliminated years of suffering for me. I am thankful there are no Ls in the phase, "When our program continues."
posted by Don Pepino at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shakespeare has a pretty wide body of work; many plays and sonnets. It seems suspect to me that someone would think that all of it sucks. Most people that I know, including myself, have a few plays that they like and a few that they don't. I mean, A Midsummer Night's Dream bores me to tears, but I love Titus Andronicus. I would hate to sit through any production of Romeo and Juliet, but almost always love Much Ado About Nothing, etc. Generally, I suppose I'm just specious of most "I hate the world" type of declarations.
posted by Shouraku at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2014


It's not that it's weird to pay attention to what he says or to call him on it, and I'd feel differently if it were hurtful to somebody or offensive to somebody, but the amount of attention that this one tweet about Shakespeare, which he seems to readily agree is wildly overstating his own case, is getting is odd to me.

It's not surprising. For better or worse, Shakespeare is still one of literature's few sacred cows, and Western culture tends to defend him to his critics. With good reason. Even to irrational ends.

So every time I see a tiny thing blown up into a big thing, I think, "This is why nobody will talk without a publicist standing there...."

As a working publicist, can I just say... we should totally encourage people to do that. ;)
posted by zarq at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2014


My junior year was American literature from The Crucible to short stories from The New Yorker. I don't think "relatable to the reader" should be the most important criteria when picking curriculum, but that's probably not a debate we'll solve here.

(I'm also not convinced that there's a way to get people who don't appreciate or enjoy novels or written plays to start doing so. My husband is a very smart guy, but he's never been a reader-for-pleasure, and nothing he's tried has made him one. Reading is work for him. That's OK.)
posted by muddgirl at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2014


Sophomore year we were actually assigned Dante's Inferno. Talk about unrelatable!

Geez, no wonder people don't seem to find me relatable anymore! I love Dante's Inferno and most everything of Shakespeare's and find them to be chock full of depth, meaning and valuable insight into the human condition and the mind. Of course, only after sort of loosely translating the archaic language into something I can understand in my head.

When you study Shakespeare in University, you get to learn what all the seemingly inexplicable bits mean, and you're kind of left with a very strong impression Shakespeare wrote in much the same mode as the writing staff for The Simpsons, layering on allusions and inside jokes everywhere that various audience members would either recognize and enjoy the thrill of being in on or just overlook completely if they weren't in the know.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:26 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I was joking about the Inferno crack. We were a bloodthirsty bunch of young teens and much enjoyed the vengeful romp through all the different ways Dante's foes would be tortured. On the last day of that unit we all came in dressed up as our favorite character/their punishment, and much fake blood was to be had.
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


A Midsummer Night's Dream bores me to tears

Pistols at dawn.
posted by graymouser at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe not having the barrier of 500 years of changed language and culture to contend with when trying to encourage kids to appreciate the written word might be something to think about.

Well, Shakespeare in the Park is not primarily meant for "kids." But if we limit ourselves to a discussion of what works of literature should be assigned to high school kids, I don't see that "familiarity" should trump all other considerations. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Students should read works both from different cultures than their own as well as from different time periods. Part of what is useful in reading literature is precisely not "reading what one knows" (though that can be useful too). It is in discovering ways of seeing the world and understanding it that are radically unfamiliar. Shakespeare is particularly useful in that regard because he is simultaneously close and distant. It is a radically different world, certainly (which provides useful ways in to talking about historical and cultural understanding) but even the very latest, cutting-edgiest pop-culture will often include works that have been profoundly influenced by Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare I read at high school was among my most enjoyable and most profoundly engaging experiences in my whole academic life. O.K I went on to become an English professor so perhaps I'm not the average punter--but I remember the great majority of my class (not at any specially selective or elite school) being deeply engaged in analysis of Anthony and Cleopatra, Othello, Twelfth Night and Hamlet.
posted by yoink at 1:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I remember a conversation once with a kid in Junior High here in New York who had just been assigned Julius Caesar

I recall being assigned Julius Caesar as well. Seems like we read 4 plays: R&J in the 9th, Caesar in the 10th, Macbeth in the 11th, and Hamlet in the 12th. At the time I think I dug Macbeth the most.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Relatable," a word for lazy brains.
Won't work to read? Don't hope to reap the gains.
Yet clearly we all here have taken bait,
And so been trolled by one who could relate.
posted by RogerB at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


NO ONE EXPECTS THE SHAKESPEARE INQUISITION!

I would have been here sooner, but I've spent the last two days looking up Ira Glass's home address and pricing pallets of toilet paper at Costco.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:38 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


The comedies are fantastic: usually very clever plot resolutions, relatable characters with a good deal of depth, wordplay all over the place, inventive settings, etc. The tragedies and the histories I can take or leave. (And whatever The Tempest was.) I'm happy to see someone put a dent in the 'Shakespeare as untouchable cultural megalith whom all educated people praise' narrative.
posted by capricorn at 1:42 PM on July 30, 2014


I'm also not convinced that there's a way to get people who don't appreciate or enjoy novels or written plays to start doing so.

Part of that problem is written plays aren't really meant to be read—Shakespeare's language is still beautiful on the page, but his plays like all plays are best experienced through performance, and something gets lost in that absence.

And as a bookseller I firmly believe there's enjoyable novel (or at least prose work) for everybody. But I'm also pretty lax about sticking to "age appropriate" material for shoving at people.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:42 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think some of the uproar is due to how Glass phrased it: "Shakespeare sucks." If he'd tweeted something like "I don't like Shakespeare" or "Shakespeare leaves me cold" or "I hate Shakespeare and want to never see another of his plays again" or anything like that, he probably would have gotten some pushback but not the same degree of HOW DARE YOU INSULT THE BARD YOU DROOLING PHILISTINE AND BY THE WAY YOUR GLASSES LOOK STUPID AND I HATE THE WAY YOU SPEAK that he got.
posted by Lexica at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I was joking about the Inferno crack. We were a bloodthirsty bunch of young teens and much enjoyed the vengeful romp through all the different ways Dante's foes would be tortured.

One of my favorite book covers is the tie-in version for the Dante's Inferno videogame. RAWRRR, POETRY!!!!!!!!!
posted by nicebookrack at 1:51 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to see someone put a dent in the 'Shakespeare as untouchable cultural megalith whom all educated people praise' narrative.

Eh it's pretty easy to find educated people who will say that, e.g., Cymbeline isn't too hot.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:54 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The headline, "Ira Glass and What We Get Wrong When We Talk about Shakespeare" seems to be a half-hearted riff on Raymond Carver, for some reason. Still weird and awkward, but not the royal we.

That's a stretch. Some of her other recent articles for WaPo:

What ‘Love Child’ tells us about the debate over video game addiction

How can we convince parents to vaccinate? Acknowledge their fears.

‘The Strain’ gives us unambiguous evil on TV again

What does diversity look like? On TV this fall, we will find out

How we talk about politics is infecting how we talk about culture


But--check it out!--today we got "What I learned from watching ‘The Bachelorette’ for the first time", so there's hope.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:58 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid I was the one who introduced the notion of "relatability" into the conversation, so if I could re-direct....

I absolutely agree that kids should be stretched and pushed. However, it often happens that a teacher is either a little too ambitious or a little too shaky in guiding the conversation, and they don't do as good a job of helping the kids make the connection between MacBeth's ambition and their own, say. Or Lear's fears of mortality, or King Henry IV's fears of assuming responsibility, or what have you. So they're left kind of adrift to fumble through the text on their own, which can make for a hit-or-miss thing - and if they're stuck with something like Lear, would end up being more of a miss.

In the hands of a good teacher you could absolutely assign a high school class anything, and should. But some kids, and some classes, may need to take smaller steps, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


‘The Strain’ gives us unambiguous evil on TV again


Yes- in what sort of just world would writing that bad be allowed to exist?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:04 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yet damn you for a Philistine, poor Ira,
if watching Lear you heard no Muse's lyre, of
sadness and of aging and of loss, sing
a tune for which no heart should need a glossing.
If that's really the best you can relate, Glass,
the fault may not be Shakespeare's but your own ass'.
posted by RogerB at 2:07 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm afraid I was the one who introduced the notion of "relatability" into the conversation

Aha, EC is Ira Glass.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:08 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


...I love Titus Andronicus.

I saw a production of that a couple of years ago where everybody was vampires - it was bloody and gothy and wonderful.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:11 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Aha, EC is Ira Glass.

You never do see us both in the same room at the same time.

Mainly because I don't live in Chicago but whatevs
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2014


And as a bookseller I firmly believe there's enjoyable novel (or at least prose work) for everybody.

Sure, but that's not teaching someone to enjoy reading in general - that's finding a prose work that is interesting enough to them to overcome the sense of plodding work that some people (like my husband) find in reading. He enjoys Vonnegut novels, for example, but unlike me he sees no value in re-reading those books once read merely for the pleasure they give.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on July 30, 2014


He "thinks he might be realizing" that "maybe" Shakespeare sucks. Coward.
posted by borges at 2:20 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the vampire production *definitely* wasn't "no stakes." Ha!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:20 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I can remember saying that Shakespeare sucks, back when I was young and resentful and fancied myself an iconoclast, and was far too insecure to admit that I didn't understand most of what I'd read (or seen).
posted by johnofjack at 2:37 PM on July 30, 2014


On the topic of Fast Food Macbeth ...

I think some of the uproar is due to how Glass phrased it: "Shakespeare sucks." If he'd tweeted something like "I don't like Shakespeare" or "Shakespeare leaves me cold" or "I hate Shakespeare and want to never see another of his plays again" or anything like that, he probably would have gotten some pushback but not the same degree of HOW DARE YOU INSULT THE BARD YOU DROOLING PHILISTINE AND BY THE WAY YOUR GLASSES LOOK STUPID AND I HATE THE WAY YOU SPEAK that he got.

That's really the thing, I think. Any of the latter is a subjective thought, and there's not much to do other than pity his wrong opinions. But stating that Shakespeare isn't relatable denies everybody who's related to one of the plays, stating that it has no stakes denies everybody who's been caught up with the stakes. It's projecting his terrible opinion into objective truth, and that absolutely needs slapping down.
posted by kafziel at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again
by John Keats
O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,
Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay
Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
When through the old oak forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Man, the only thing that could make this thread more metafilter is if he saw the play in Portland.

Shakespeare is kind of meh, IMO. Middlebrow, emotionally manipulative, course, often written as political propaganda in service of an elite agenda and hasn't really aged well, aside from Romeo and Juliet, I guess.
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2014


Mainly because I don't live in Chicago but whatevs

Neither does he. He moved to NYC when they did the TV series. You're sure you're not him? :-)

posted by Shmuel510 at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


He was also a serial plagiarist.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2014


I mean, Bill Shakespeare is good, but he's no Mike Daisey, am I right?

I'll use this as an excuse to post Merlin Mann's impression of Mike Daisey.
posted by brundlefly at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really don't have any particularly coherent thoughts about Shakespeare, even though I've probably read way more about him than about Proust.

I don't think this in fact boils down to "Shakespeare sucks", but I do think that it's very easy to assume that Shakespeare is all important and deep and so on without actually having a genuine response to any actual Shakespeare.


I guess I can get what you're saying, and if you don't, personally, have an emotional response to ol' Shakes, then hell, you don't...but I think in this case the Emperor is in fact clothéd in glorious raiment.

For me, the first example that comes to mind is the Clock speech in Richard II. The context, if you're behind on your Dicks and Harrys, is that Richard is the rightful king...except he's bloody terrible at it, and over the course of the play, a powerful lord whom he humiliates rebels against him and usurps him, and turns our to be a very good king himself. The whole play is concerned with this conflict between theory and practice, between the theological basis for Kingship itself, it's supposedly divine and immutable nature, and the practical fact that Richard ends up starving in a cell, unloved and unmourned, and everybody else is a lot happier. The speech occurs at the end if the play, when Richard's alone and in prison, and I think it's fascinating on so many levels...the very first and simplest being the "relatableness" of Shakes' characters: here in a single speech he succeeds in turning the arrogant, aloof, foolish man into someone you sympathise with, feel deeply for. And he succeeds in doing this because, on another level, one profound aspect of Shakes' genius his his deep understanding of human nature --- the speech itself is stream-of-consciousness avant la lettre, it consists of Richard describing to himself how his thoughts are running in circles ever since he's been in jail, him attempting to put into words that particular fretful misery of a person confined in a hopeless situation, who can't help going over and over all his past decisions in his mind. That, I think, is profoundly relatable to anyone who's ever spent a night staring at the ceiling, worried about something they can't fix. And on yet a third level, the way Shakes attempts to relate this, the metaphors he's using, their density, the way he's able to turn them on a dime, mid-line, switching the referent in order to make both aspects of a double meaning glow anew --- it reminds me in a way of the best hip hop, someone like Rakim, who's able to use the pauses and the breaks in a beat, turn meaning back around on itself as sharp as a race car driver doing a handbrake turn.

It's not an easy piece of writing, it takes a few times going through it, to take it all in. But Shakespear's full of such passages. The difficulty we have, 400 years on, in parsing his language can sometimes mask these other aspects of his genius. But Shakespeare not relateable? The reason we use so many words he created, even today, is that he was so excellent at capturing a common thought, an experience everyone's had, and naming it for the first time, giving it a shape. A lot of geniuses are really only good at describing themselves, relating the world as it appears through their eyes, or through characters very much like them; Shakes is probably the premiere example of the much rarer thing, of being able to embody so many different voices, different brains, and give them all equal life...
posted by maggiepolitt at 2:54 PM on July 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


Taking story ideas and rewriting them isn't plagiarism, any more than the people who made Clueless are plagiarists. But maybe I've missed allegations that he passed off others work as his own (or rather, more credible allegations than from Baconists or other anti-Stratfordians).
posted by muddgirl at 2:54 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Um, my last comment could be read to imply that I'm accusing empath of being an anti-Stratfordian, but I meant those to be two different thoughts.
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2014


Shakespeare is kind of meh, IMO.

You should be on twitter!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:58 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


To be fair, this would all make for an excellent episode of Epic Rap Battles of History. I like to think that Ira Glass has the deliberate, like-molasses flow of MF DOOM.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:20 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say that I find Shakespeare relateable and indeed don't really have a lot of strong opinions one way or the other.

I think the problem or success with Shakespeare is you have to have actually lived the stage of life being talked about to appreciate it.

No, I can't relate to Lear yet, any more than when I was 18 I would have related to Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. But as I get older I find myself relating to more and more plays, and truly enjoying different parts - finding more in common with Mercutio and the Nurse than Romeo and Juliet, for example.

Also, I am so tired with the "Shakespeare sucks, thus I'm cool" bandwagon.
posted by corb at 3:29 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


the question has got to be asked: who the hell goes at Shakespeare? saying "Shakespeare sucks" is pretty close to the most irrelevant, myopic non-comment I can imagine. the effects that Shakespeare's plays have had on western literature and culture are staggeringly, incomprehensibly large. you can't judge it. everything you've read has been influenced by things that were influenced by things that were influenced by things that were influenced by Shakespeare, whether directly or through tropes or culture or language. it's like saying "this mountain sucks." it's utterly meaningless.
posted by young_son at 3:57 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh god this mountain sucks

"look at me, i'm made of earth, i'm so tall"

get fucked, nobody gives a shit
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


Dude is such a hack he just makes up words!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:14 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ira Glass is kind of a poindexter though and I'd rather listen to a bad recitation of Shakespeare (who I don't particularly care for either, at least not to the extent that I'm expected to) than his dry nasal whine. This entire situation is basically a trapped fart pocket.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:25 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: basically a trapped fart pocket.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


(it had to be said)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:31 PM on July 30, 2014



Part of that problem is written plays aren't really meant to be read—Shakespeare's language is still beautiful on the page, but his plays like all plays are best experienced through performance, and something gets lost in that absence.


This. Get five* friends together. Divvy up the parts. Read aloud. It doesn't matter about the acting. It starts to make sense when it's spoken. In college, I helped get some less-than-enthusiastic non-Lit/ non-theatre major friends through a semester of Shakespeare hosting read-ins (once in the middle of the night in a diner). It was pretty magical. I'm not sure they're all Shakespeare obsessives now, but they all got it. And almost everyone has a good time.

*You can pretty much do any Shakespeare with five people, so long as you double up on parts.
posted by thivaia at 4:42 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


So favorite scenes in Shakespeare since we've threshed out why Ira Glass is a bad person who should feel bad.

They don't have the Olivier version on YouTube, but look at Act I scene ii from Richard III telling a woman that she is complicit in his murder of her husband because Richard (Gloucester) loves her.

One of my favorite creepy scenes in all literature.
Glo. It is a quarrel most unnatural,
To be reveng'd on him that loveth thee.
Anne. It is a quarrel just and reasonable,
To be reveng'd on him that kill'd my husband.
Glo. He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
Anne. His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
Glo. He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Anne. Name him.
Lo. Plantagenet.
Anne. Why, that was he.
Glo. The self-same name, but one of better nature.
Anne. Where is he?
Glo. Here. [She spitteth at him.] Why dost thou spit at me?
Anne. Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake!
Glo. Never came poison from so sweet a place.
Anne. Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
Out of my sight! thou dost infect mine eyes.
Glo. Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
Anne. Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead!
Glo. I would they were, that I might die at once;
For now they kill me with a living death.
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Sham'd their aspects with store of childish drops;
These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear;
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
When black-fac'd Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy war-like father like a child,
Told the sad story of my father's death,
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks,
Like trees bedash'd with rain: in that sad time,
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never sued to friend, nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing words;
But, now thy beauty is propos'd my fee,
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
[She looks scornfully at him.]
Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo! here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword;
Which if thou please to hide in this true breast,
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
I lay it open to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
[He lays his breast open: she offers at it with his sword.]
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry;
But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; 'twas I that stabb'd young Edward;
[She again offers at his breast.]
But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
[She lets fall the sword.]
Take up the sword again, or take up me.
Anne. Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death,
I will not be thy executioner.
Glo. Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.
Anne. I have already.
Glo. That was in thy rage:
Speak it again, and, even with the word,
This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,
Shall, for thy love, kill a far truer love:
To both their deaths shalt thou be accessary.
Anne. I would I knew thy heart.
Glo. 'Tis figur'd in my tongue.
Anne. I fear me both are false.
Glo. Then never man was true.
It's a breathless, terrifying hypnotic scene and the creepiest part of it is watching Lady Anne wilt beneath the dizzying flow of words and the typical abuser line of it being the victim's fault because he made her do it, neither she nor we as the audience quite sure how much of it is real even in Richard's head and how much of his artfully described passion is real or is cold-blooded planning (he does break the fourth wall later in the scene to be all lol so silly a woman she was right he was better than me I must be better looking than I thought). It's all perfectly familiar and intelligible as a pattern of abuse even if I have never found anything to explain why she calls him a hedgehog.
posted by winna at 4:44 PM on July 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


> "I have never found anything to explain why she calls him a hedgehog."

They were not popular animals at the time. It was believed that hedgehogs stole milk from cows during the night. In fact, in 1566, the Elizabethan parliament put a three pence bounty on the head of every hedgehog that could be caught and killed.
posted by kyrademon at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Just to be clear, are we gathered here with torches and pitchforks simply because Ira used the word 'relatable' [shudder], or is it more his using that abominable word as if it represented a non-stupid way to critique art?

I'm down for storming the castle either way.
posted by straight at 5:00 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare is kind of meh, IMO. Middlebrow, emotionally manipulative, course, often written as political propaganda in service of an elite agenda and hasn't really aged well, aside from Romeo and Juliet, I guess.

That's rather worse that twitting that Shakespeare sucks if only because it sounds like a little thought went into it. Mistaken thought, but thought.

Middlebrow? He's rather more than that. It's part of his genius that he appeals to the whole spread from groundlings to eggheads. Manipulative? Compared to whom? There's a difference between genuine pathos (Lear) and cheap emotion (Stephanie Meyers). Propaganda? To the extent that some of it is propaganda, it rises rather high above that fact (cf Uncle Tom's Cabin). Aged well? The fact that he is still regularly staged (as opposed to, say Ben Jonson or Christopher Marlowe or Webster) for his own sake and not as an oddity puts paid to that argument.

I get it, everyone has their own favorites and Ira Glass was being stupidly flip (sagging ratings?), but when the overwhelming preponderance of opinion is so dramatically against you, it's time to check again and see if maybe you're missing something.

(On the other hand, Tolstoy once trashed Chekhov by calling him even worse that Shakespeare. But then, I find a lot of Tolstoy manipulative. Preachy. Condescending, especially to women.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:06 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


> "I'm down for storming the castle either way."

I'm here for the discussion of 16th century animal control policy.

I don't even know why I have this pitchfork.
posted by kyrademon at 5:07 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Because you're here for the discussion of 16th century animal control policy.

It was pitchfork-intensive.
posted by maxsparber at 5:11 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thing is, there are lots of playwrights churning-out new plays all the time. But, theater companies have to sell tickets to stay alive and old Bill is a relatively sure thing to put butts in the seats. Or, to attract wealthy benefactors.

And no royalties! It's like Gilbert and Sullivan without having to pay for a music director!

you're saying that Hamlet is more for people who are 18 or so, but we give it to kids who are 14 or 15.

Most of the people I've talked Shakespeare with IRL, who went through the NYS public school system, were assigned the plays in the same grades I was:

Grade 9: Romeo and Juliet
Grade 10: Julius Caesar
Grade 12: Hamlet

Of course, my Shakespearience was different from most of my classmates (long story), we were more like 17-18 when we were assigned Hamlet and related to him like gangbusters. He was just a couple of years older than us, and our teen angst was a perfect match for his, "What the hell is anything in this world even good for?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:13 PM on July 30, 2014


I get it, everyone has their own favorites and Ira Glass was being stupidly flip (sagging ratings?), but when the overwhelming preponderance of opinion is so dramatically against you, it's time to check again and see if maybe you're missing something.

So it's a popularity contest?
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on July 30, 2014


> "Because you're here for the discussion of 16th century animal control policy. It was pitchfork-intensive."

Ah, very true.

Incidentally, the 1566 Act was driven by the severe conditions of the long and bitter winters characteristic of the so-called Little Ice Age in the second half of the sixteenth century. A combination of bad harvests, epidemics, and a rapidly expanding population drove food policy and led to a vast increase in the animals officially considered undesirable vermin. (Unfortunately, it probably had the long-term effect of causing a sharp decline in the variety and quantity of native British wildlife.)

The bounty for a hedgehog was equal to that of an otter. Foxes and badgers were worth six hedgehogs, but polecats, wildcats, and stoats were only worth half a hedgehog.
posted by kyrademon at 5:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Canadian book retailer Chapters has a portrait of the Immortal Bard on the door to the men's shitter. Is a picture of that loathsome Ira Glass on any washroom doors?

Shakespeare - 1, Glass - 0
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:35 PM on July 30, 2014


Kyrademon, I would love to see a FPP you wrote about the relative price of various vermin as measured in hedgehogs.
posted by jeather at 5:53 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Favorite scenes? Othello had just murdered Desdemona. Emilia discovers this and Othello explains how he learned of Desdemona's infidelity from Emilia's husband, Iago. As he relates the story, she repeats the phrase "my husband" with increasing horror as she realizes she's married to a monster. One of the most horrifying, powerful moments in all of Shakespeare.

And then she turns bad ass.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


So it's a popularity contest?

Uh yeah that's the point, yes. If there's one thing we've all learned from being on the internet, it's that anyone's opinion, however ill-informed, poorly stated, or just downright dopey, is of equal value. 1st amendment, dude! We don't need any pointy-headed people who actually know what they're talking about to tell us what to think!

So anyone can just go ahead and say what, I dunno, 400 years worth of the equivalent of 8th graders have thought before them- "shakespeare sucks." And, since the other thing we know from being on the internet is that, having in infinitesimal attention span, the internet craves novelty and surprise, there's perpetually an audience for that sort of thing. Albeit a short-lived one.

It's kind of like when Faze used to get up and spout off about the Beatles whenever it was remotely relevant- the whole stance of I am teh Brave Contrarian, the only one with the guts to tell you: Everybody's Favorite Band Sucks! You're all brainwashed but I, I see the truth!

Point is, it's cute because it doesn't matter. If saying Shakespeare sucked was enough to damage his reputation... it probably would have already happened? But it's likely that any criticism you might want to level at the guy probably exists, in a much more cogent and convincing form, somewhere in the 100s of thousands of words that have already been written about him.

If it's a popularity contest, it's measured in generations, not in retweets or favorites. If it's a conversation, about something that's so engrained in the culture that everyone can have an opinion about it... that just means that the bar for saying anything interesting or original about it is a high one indeed. Yeah, everybody's got a right to an opinion. But never a right to have anyone else take it seriously.

Apparently Ira Glass has cleared that bar, to the extent that a whole bunch of people are calling him an idiot. Personally, I saw the tweet and thought "looks like someone's been getting bad feedback on their screenplay, and is making a funny." Like, it sounds like something Harry Cohn could have said. But Poe's law or something I guess. Or else IHBT.
posted by hap_hazard at 6:30 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a breathless, terrifying hypnotic scene

Your comment is on point and interesting and I agree despite my Daughter of Time-induced Ricardian sentiments HE WASN'T A VILLAIN DAMMIT HE DIDN'T KILL THE PRINCES THAT MADE NO SENSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN STUPID AND HE WAS NOT A STUPID MAN THAT WAS PROPAGANDA ARGH. Ahem.
posted by Lexica at 7:32 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think Ira Glass has just as much a right to tweet indefensible, off-the-cuff opinions as Shakespeare does.
posted by mazola at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's Twitter.

It is not a medium overly geared towards weighty, well-thought-out pronouncements. It is more for that thing that suddenly occurred to you, so you jot it down, then a couple hours later you realize oh, so that's why I was wrong! Some people treat these silly little feeds like they are Important Statements Chiseled In Stone, but they're just jottings down. Idle tweets.
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Idle Tweets?
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:22 PM on July 30, 2014


I bet Faze loves Shakespeare because both Faze and Shakespeare are fucking badasses.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:30 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ira Glass is good at producing radio shows and really really bad at twitter.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:30 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess my favorite scene in Shakespeare is probably Falstaff's "What is Honor?" speech.

PRINCE HENRY
Why, thou owest God a death.

Exit PRINCE HENRY

FALSTAFF
‘Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before
his day. What need I be so forward with him that
calls not on me? Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.


or anything else Falstaff says or does in any play he is in. If Shakespeare did nothing else but create that character he would be a legend. But then he went and created everything else too.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:35 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm guessing a TML in the near future is going to begin with "Act One: Blowback. So...I sent out a couple tweets the other day..."
posted by uosuaq at 8:39 PM on July 30, 2014


I think Ira Glass has just as much a right to tweet indefensible, off-the-cuff opinions as Shakespeare does.

@christoph'rmarlowe sucketh a heapeth of en'rmous dragon pricketh
sent from YeHooteSuite 4:20 of y'clock
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:55 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


It is not a medium overly geared towards weighty, well-thought-out pronouncements. It is more for that thing that suddenly occurred to you, so you jot it down, then a couple hours later you realize oh, so that's why I was wrong!

And then you use the built-in functionality of the platform to add context explain your change of heart say something even stupider three minutes later.

#ThisAmericanYOLO
posted by hap_hazard at 9:05 PM on July 30, 2014


In February 1960 I was not yet 8 years old and for some reason found myself in front of my grandmother's television watching CBS' Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of The Tempest with Richard Burton and Lee Remick. I was enthralled and amazed - even though I can't imagine I understood much if anything. I've been besotted ever since
posted by vicusofrecirculation at 9:05 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just goes to show that you really have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon

Good to see that General Chang is still doing Shakespeare.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:20 PM on July 30, 2014


I think Ira Glass has just as much a right to tweet indefensible, off-the-cuff opinions as Shakespeare does.

@christoph'rmarlowe sucketh a heapeth of en'rmous dragon pricketh
sent from YeHooteSuite 4:20 of y'clock


This @Bacon fellow, me? Pray, teach me how
I oft might pen a Hamlet, a Macbeth;
yet him? Unversed, and New Atlantis, well,
was ne'er so written quite as it were shat.
posted by kafziel at 9:27 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Look, Shakespeare isn't quite for everyone, especially what with severe language barrier. As someone else pointed out, it makes more sense when you see it acted out. (I did not know Romeo and Juliet had so many dirty jokes until I saw that play done here, for example.) And from what I hear, Lear is a hard one for a lot of people to get. And Ira probably isn't old enough with angst and kids to relate. So yeah, Not For Him, I guess.

"I think most of us also enjoyed Moonlighting's adaptation of "Taming of the Shrew," FWIW. (I guess the kids watch that movie with Heath Ledger and JGL now instead.)"

It's easier to get a hold of 10 Things, I think. I remember seeing Atomic Shakespeare and loving it, and then being BRUTALLY DISAPPOINTED at reading Taming of the Shrew for real. "It really goes like that?!"

"But I absolutely think that overblown dust-ups like this lead to people being less candid, less likely to speak off the cuff, and ultimately less willing to engage in situations that aren't choreographed. It's not that it hurts him, it's that I think it makes the way public people deal with the public worse over time. This might be because I just got back from hearing a ton of presentations about fall television that are choreographed by publicists, and I wish everybody didn't feel obligated to speak off a list of talking points. So every time I see a tiny thing blown up into a big thing, I think, "This is why nobody will talk without a publicist standing there, is because even tiny things that mean nothing cannot be written off, ever." That's all."


Linda_Holmes, you're absolutely right on that. I love it when celebrities say wacky, amusing, weird things, and I hate it when they get totally shamed into basically never speaking again. This kind of thing makes me wonder how well anyone can deal with an even slightly public career if literally everything you have to say has to be perfectly inoffensive at all times or else the mobs will come. Wherefore art thou, Robert Pattinson dogging on Stephenie Meyer? Megan Fox dissing Transformers? Katherine Heigl...okay, I don't miss her so much. We must preserve the J.Law, for she is all that is left!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:33 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's it mean then, that I can say that I appreciate some of the verbal artistry in Shakespeare's plays but that by and large they don't touch me, that they leave me cold and indifferent, or perplexed at the overly-flouncy melodrama?

But that by contrast his sonnets are lovely and quite moving?

What kind of taste is that?
posted by shivohum at 9:40 PM on July 30, 2014


“Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made For kissing, Ira, not for such contempt.”
posted by Middlemarch at 12:48 AM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


From the pile of random favorite Shakespeare scenes, in Titus Andronicus, this part of Aaron's epic speech about how much of an evil motherfucker he is:


Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'
posted by nicebookrack at 6:34 AM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I'm a bit surprised he had time to see a play in between bouts of cross-town trips to buy kangaroo meat for his wife's violent dog.
posted by blueberry at 7:06 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


everything you've read has been influenced by things that were influenced by things that were influenced by things that were influenced by Shakespeare, whether directly or through tropes or culture or language.

As long as you overlook literature written before Shakespeare, in other languages etc. He's plenty good without any extra hyperbole.
posted by ersatz at 8:06 AM on July 31, 2014


As long as you overlook literature written before Shakespeare, in other languages etc.

I'll give you "written before Shakespeare" but not "in other languages." Shakespeare's influence on global literature is enormous. He's in the DNA of German literature, French literature, Italian literature etc. And, of course, via Europe's vast colonial impact all over the globe, he's intertwined in almost all the postcolonial literatures of the world.
posted by yoink at 8:48 AM on July 31, 2014


So it's a popularity contest?

The problem with this, empath, is that whether you're right or wrong about that your position's not a good one. Let's say it's not a "popularity contest." Let's say that there is some way to be "right" or "wrong" about what constitutes "good literature." Perhaps it's really, really hard to figure out, but ultimately there is some way to actually say with some objective certainty either that "Shakespeare is great" or "Shakespeare sucks."

O.K., let's entertain that hypothesis. Then don't you think it's pretty damn improbable that you're on the right side of that argument? I mean, if pretty nearly every knowledgeable person in pretty nearly every language who has ever considered the issue disagrees with you (so overwhelmingly so that the exceptions--like Tolstoy--are notorious for that mere fact, and consciously position themselves as radical exceptions to the rule [Tolstoy acknowledges at the beginning of his essay on Shakespeare that his opinion is "in direct opposition...to that established in all the whole European world"]) is it really all that likely that you're right and that they're wrong? Are you really so confident that you're the lone genius who sees through the sham and that they're all deluded fools who fail to see the truth so apparent to you? I think you'll agree, in any case, that there's absolutely no reason for any of us to give even a moment's consideration to that possibility.

But then put the case the other way. Let's say that enjoying or not enjoying Shakespeare is simply a matter of personal taste--that it is wholly subjective: there is no way to be right or wrong about his greatness, it's all just degustibus. O.K., great. Then you're not in any way "wrong" to dislike his plays and we're not in any way "right" to like them and vice versa. But then, why the pride and self-satisfaction in announcing this dislike? It's like proudly announcing that you don't enjoy the taste of chocolate. I mean, sure, there's no "reason" you should like chocolate. There's no way to be "right" or "wrong" about liking chocolate--one either does or one doesn't. It's simply a matter of the way our bodies happen to function. But if you happened to be someone who didn't like the taste you wouldn't suspect, would you, that all the people who talk about how much pleasure it gives them were somehow lying to themselves, would you? You wouldn't assume that they only pretend to like it because everyone's told them they ought to like it, would you? You wouldn't think "I'm the only one with the guts to look Big Chocolate in the eye and tell it the plain truth, that it's not really very enjoyable."

And, of course, if you happened not to like chocolate that's not, in itself, such a misfortune. There are other things you enjoy and you can always eat those. That's fine. But surely you'd have to admit it's a bit of a drag to live in a world where everyone else does enjoy chocolate and you don't? I mean, all those times people buy you chocolates as a gift because they assume that everyone likes chocolates--but it's wasted on you, of course. Surely if there were any way you could learn to like chocolates it would make your life a little easier, wouldn't it? So maybe it's worth trying chocolates once in a while just to see if your tastes have changed (I used to hate the taste of goat's cheeses; now I love them--that's a pleasure added to my life which I wouldn't have had if I'd simply decided "goats cheese is horrible, and people who say they like it are just pretending to like it because they think you're supposed to like it.") By the same token, lots of people dislike a certain author on first encounter who eventually becomes one of their most beloved. Maybe they learn to see things they missed originally (the "there's something objective" hypothesis), maybe their tastes just change (the "it's all subjective" hypothesis). But in either case, surely it's best to leave yourself open to the possibility of learning to love Shakespeare, because, you know, he's basically the chocolate of the literary world. Regardless of a few outliers who for one reason or another don't get the appeal, he's going to remain the go-to dramatic confectionary of choice for the vast majority of people. So if you can learn to love him, you're going to increase your sum total of pleasure in the world considerably.
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Lexica: I think some of the uproar is due to how Glass phrased it: "Shakespeare sucks." If he'd tweeted something like "I don't like Shakespeare" or "Shakespeare leaves me cold" or "I hate Shakespeare and want to never see another of his plays again" or anything like that, he probably would have gotten some pushback but not the same degree...

True. Put this way, his complaint of "Shakespeare is not relatable" is... not relatable. Funny how that worked out.
posted by seyirci at 10:20 AM on July 31, 2014


From what I hear, Lear is a hard one for a lot of people to get. And Ira probably isn't old enough with angst and kids to relate. So yeah, Not For Him, I guess.

Yeah, no kidding! Age helps with it, at least, according to the white beards that I've discussed the play with.

As to Glass - no children noted in Wikipedia. One marriage noted, and that in 2005. He is fifty five years old, so a little slow on taking up some of the traditional trappings of adulthood. Just from curiosity, I have to wonder what literary works he thinks do make the grade. Also why.

On preview:

I think some of the uproar is due to how Glass phrased it


Well, for a man of his age to a) tweet and b) use the word "sucks" does sort of underscore what I just said.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2014



BOOKS: When you do squeeze in some reading just for yourself, what do you read?

GLASS: Generally I don’t read much fiction. I’ll read Michael Lewis or Malcolm Gladwell. There’s a passage toward the end of Lewis’s “The Blind Side” that I have read over and over. It’s just a perfect piece of writing that gives you a chill. I love Lewis’s work because he’s so out for fun. What makes his books work is that he loves his characters. That’s true even for “The Big Short,” in which all these smarty-pants rich guys are trying to make money on the collapse of the world economy. You should hate them, but you love them....

...

BOOKS: What do you have on your upcoming reading list?

GLASS: I’m not even a sophisticated enough reader to have an upcoming list. My goal is to finish the Zadie Smith. I’ll be like, “Oh my God, I did it. I get a gold star.”

BOOKS: If you had more time what would you read?

GLASS: I wouldn’t read more. I’d see more movies. No knock against books.


-Source
posted by vacapinta at 11:09 AM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Of all the plays why did it have to be this one? Please let him continue to confine himself to tweets. I don't want to tune in some Saturday and have to hear him go on and on about "John Hrithgow's magicawr performance as King Rear." (Or did Writhgow prwray Grwoucester? Or Goneriwwrww? Or the foo/oddthroatwhir/?)

(To further improve the discourse with more details about the abuse I endure every Saturday at the hands of the national public radio and its ever-evolving campaign to attract the coveted talk-like-a-space-alien demographic, all y'all that were discussing vocal fry a while back? The worst offender ON OUR PLANET is THIS GUY.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2014


yoink: O.K., let's entertain that hypothesis. Then don't you think it's pretty damn improbable that you're on the right side of that argument?

This is the argument ad populum (Wikipedia - RationalWiki), a logical fallacy. Basically, if everyone says it, it must be true. It might be true, sure, but you cannot use this itself as a measure of correctness. It is by no means infallible.

People learn from each other, a great strength of ours as a species, but incorrect things that appear to be true can be learned as well as true things. Our history is filled with these instances, from people taken in by the Piltdown Man, to people who believed in cold fusion, to people who thought horse_ebooks was for real. The realization of this fact, that people can be fooled in large groups, can definitely be taken too far, and it is the eternal hope of Creationists and Flat Earthers alike.

So of course, as a rule of thumb, you can generally accept popular opinions. But, despite the fact that it puts one in danger of crankdom, it is a fundamental right of the individual to leave space in one's mind to have an opinion, and even express it, even if it goes against the world. If we didn't we wouldn't have Gene Ray, sure, but we'd also not have Einstein.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 PM on July 31, 2014


You make two errors, JHarris. One is that I specifically instanced every knowledgeable person. There's a difference between saying "people generally think that the sun goes round the earth, therefore it's probably true" and saying "astronomers generally think the universe is expanding, therefore it's probably true." Second, I didn't say "every knowledgeable person thinks this, therefore it must" be true, I said that it wasn't worth our while giving any serious thought to the possibility that empath, with no specialized knowledge of the area, was right where every expert is wrong.

If an astrophysicist at MIT writes a paper saying that the universe is not expanding, even if her colleagues disagree with it, it is worth my while considering that she might be right. If Joe Bloggs down the street insists that he's thought really hard about this expanding universe thing ever since he heard about it a week ago and he thinks it's all stuff and nonsense, then it's really not worth my while considering that he might have gained an insight which the experts have overlooked.
posted by yoink at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2014


Then why are you looking to Ira Glass for input on whether you should like Shakespeare? Does he have unique standing?

And it remains, once in a while Joe Bloggs is right. In fact, a scattering of Joe Bloggs arriving to the same conclusions can be an important sign that attitudes are changing.
posted by JHarris at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2014


(Or, alternatively, why am I even in this conversation? Why do I give yoink unique standing? Heh.)
posted by JHarris at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2014


it is a fundamental right of the individual to leave space in one's mind to have an opinion, and even express it, even if it goes against the world.

And it is the right of the world to heap scorn on those opinions that are ill-considered and foolish.

In any event, the science parallels are absurd since we are talking aesthetics, which, unlike sciency things, are not quantifiable. The preponderance of objectively verifiable evidence is against a flat earth, and it's for science guys to gather that evidence.

Criticism by contrast is what Mencken called prejudice made plausible. That's a bit over-clever, but you get the idea - you either can or cannot convince the open minded that Shakespeare is Good and, say, E.L. James is Bad. Thing is, there are libraries of testimony arguing the Shakespeare as Genius line, and not a whole lot arguing the contrary. Which, being the case, makes it a bit ridiculous to argue that technically, the Shakespeare Good line don't signify. After a while, one feels rather like Samuel Johnson's refuting Bishop Berkeley. Generally speaking, a crack pot (or an ignoramus) is just a crack pot (or an ignoramus). Metrically speaking.

So who's really good in the arts department? General rule of thumb - bet the marathoner, not the sprinter. If things still excite the imagination over time, both popular and egghead, chances are you've got a real winner, something worth presenting the Intergalactic Best of the Universe Award.

Really, though, you have to wonder why Mr Glass, who clearly has little to no interest in literature in general or Shakespeare in particular, was in the park at all, other than because it's the hip place to be this time of year. Except - real live celebrities! But o-mi-God, I am so bored. Seriously, do you understand what he's saying? No, you shush! Thank God for hand-helds. Tweet tweet.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think one difficulty with all this is that people have become accustomed to thinking something is "good" and ignoring what really gives them pleasure. Pleasure is the ultimate metric of art, its alpha and omega.

So sure, Shakespeare was masterful with the language -- but how many people really are powerfully moved by him today as opposed to merely thinking they should be moved by him, and sort of mesmerizing themselves into thinking that therefore they are? Many, perhaps, but I'll wager many fewer than claim it.

This kind of socially motivated hypocrisy, I think, prevents people from seeing literature in all its diversity, and realizing that although they may not enjoy certain canonical authors and works, they may really enjoy others. And unless we prize honesty of response above all, it's easy to lump them all together, and then avoid them. We know deep inside whether or not we're actually enjoying something.

Though of course these things can also change over time and with maturity.

The standard should be very high and visceral. When I read Proust and Faulkner, I was bodyslammed by how amazingly pleasurable, beautiful, and spiritually thoughtful they were. And when I was younger, the same was true of books like The Once and Future King or Catch-22 and was absolutely not true of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Only by prizing honesty of emotional pleasure can we really find our best "in" to great art.
posted by shivohum at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2014


This is freaky because they recently played a TAL re-run that was all about Joe Bloggs versus people who actually know things about complicated stuff:

This American Blabbermouth:

Finally, Joe Bloggs, defiant as always, volleyed back with what all along has been his main point: e equals mc squared doesn't make sense because it's difficult to understand. A fundamental law of physics should be self-explanatory.
[Shakespeare sucks because theater is not good unless I like it. I am This American, and I define This American Life. I, a person who thought he was superior to Lynda Barry and who thought Blink rocked.]

Hapless idiot:

Well, the only thing I can see with physics is you are getting way too complicated. I mean, you have to go to school forever. You have to know this outrageous amount of calculus. When I see all that, I know that physics has gone off the rails.

["You keep talking about things that have nothing to do with me! You talk talk talk about asinine memories like they mean something! You're shallow! You're poison! Do you really think I'm interested?"]

Physicist:

Let me tell you why it looks so difficult. There comes a point at which you can see beyond the gap, that you'll never cross the gap. You just can't do it. No matter how hard you try, you can't do it. Especially when you got to the conclusion Einstein was wrong, it should be e equals mc, I guess, instead of mc squared. If you used mc, there would have been no A-bomb on Hiroshima. We don't have radios, we don't have lasers, we don't have atomic bombs, we don't have anything. No cellphone, no microwave, no nothing, man. We don't have anything.

[Without him you don't have "gild the lily" or "truth will out" or "sound and fury" or "mind's eye" or "foul play" or "come what may" or "the long and the short of it" or "cold-blooded" or "jaded" or "laughable" or "madcap" or "majestic" or "dwindle" or "grovel" or "frugal" or "gust." You have nothing, man. You have nothing. Good luck cutely titling future episodes. Good luck assembling the phonemes you can and cannot say into words and stacking up the words into combinations that will interest your American audience. Good luck talking at all. Say, now that you've vanquished him and half the language with your lethal tweet what will you be leaving for future generations, Ozymandias?]
posted by Don Pepino at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course, my Shakespearience was different from most of my classmates (long story), we were more like 17-18 when we were assigned Hamlet and related to him like gangbusters. He was just a couple of years older than us, and our teen angst was a perfect match for his, "What the hell is anything in this world even good for?"

Well it did if you were a boy. From a teen girl's POV, Hamlet is Just Another Douchebag who won't shut the fuck up about himself, and he was a real shit to Ophelia. I can appreciate the artistry of the play itself now, but I still have no patience for him. His mother should have slapped him.

I don't know why schools don't start with the comedies. Midsummer Night's Dream..you get to say "Bottom" constantly and it's full of crude jokes and magic. Or The Tempest. Or any of the switched-identity romantic comedies, really. Don't throw them into the cold, obtuse meditations on death and power of Caesar right off the bat.

I think they give us Romeo and Juliet because Teen Love, but I spent a lot of time thinking about how stupidly they died and that maybe they just weren't that bright.

Although Macbeth is all right, it's got the witches and Lady Macbeth and all. Lear would be fine too, lots of teenagers spend time thinking about how unfairly they get treated next to their siblings and how parents, in general, suck.
posted by emjaybee at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


As You Like It would be a huge hit in high school. There's so much gender swapping in it I can't keep track of who is presenting as whom.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2014


you have to wonder why Mr Glass, who clearly has little to no interest in literature in general or Shakespeare in particular, was in the park at all

My theory is that, knowing nothing about Shakespeare but the cachet the name has at certain hip New York parties, Glass decided he'd take this opportunity to see what this dude was all about. His tweets, obviously, were a result of the frustration he felt upon discovering that this was just another case of New York hipster hype.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:16 PM on July 31, 2014


I'll give you "written before Shakespeare" but not "in other languages." Shakespeare's influence on global literature is enormous. He's in the DNA of German literature, French literature, Italian literature etc. And, of course, via Europe's vast colonial impact all over the globe, he's intertwined in almost all the postcolonial literatures of the world.

Unless I'm mistaken, he became popular in the mid/late 18th century even in Germany and he was controversial for centuries in France, as he wasn't a classicist à la Racine. In places like Japan and China he became popular even later (early 20th century) and all these places already had a robust literary tradition. He's very influential and for good reason, but the need to proclaim him as absolute #1 usually disregards other major writers like Cervantes, Dante, Goethe, Hugo etc. or his own Grecoroman literary influences. If I may appropriate Sartre's quote (in another context): "A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form". His work speaks on its own, but I don't think he's The Only Bard That Matters either.

And now I want to reread some Shakespeare.
posted by ersatz at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2014


shivohum: "So sure, Shakespeare was masterful with the language -- but how many people really are powerfully moved by him today as opposed to merely thinking they should be moved by him, and sort of mesmerizing themselves into thinking that therefore they are? Many, perhaps, but I'll wager many fewer than claim it."

You've set this up to be unfalsifiable. If I say that yes, I have been powerfully moved by Shakespeare, you'll just say that I've "mesmerized" myself into thinking so. (It reminds me of the time somebody told my mother "You're not happy, you just think you are!" Mom's reply: "Works for me.")

You have no way of knowing how truly somebody has or has not been affected by any work of art, Shakespeare or otherwise.
posted by Lexica at 5:15 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


how many people really are powerfully moved by him today

Yo. Right here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:15 PM on July 31, 2014


how many people really are powerfully moved by him today

Me - literally today.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:05 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mind blown by imagining how different life must be for people who can't relate to a character just because they're a different age or gender. I would have spent my entire life staring at a fucking wall. A brown Caribbean wall from the 80s with glasses and a vagina, so it wouldn't be all alienating.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:53 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


So who's really good in the arts department? General rule of thumb - bet the marathoner, not the sprinter.

As Orwell writes in the essay linked upthread by Frowner,

"In reality there is no kind of evidence or argument by which one can show that Shakespeare, or any other writer, is ‘good’. Nor is there any way of definitely proving that — for instance — Warwick Deeping is ‘bad’. Ultimately there is no test of literary merit except survival, which is itself an index to majority opinion."

...and who the heck is Warwick Deeping?
posted by jet_manifesto at 12:52 AM on August 1, 2014


how many people really are powerfully moved by him today

*waves hand*

I love Shakespeare it's getting drunk on words and emotions.
posted by winna at 6:45 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Rebecca Mead of the New Yorker: "What was remarkable about Glass’s tweet wasn’t so much his judgment of Shakespeare’s merit but the fact that the Bard of Public Radio expressed himself like a resentful millennial filling out a teacher evaluation."
posted by emjaybee at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


I mentioned my different Shakespearience earlier – I spent the primary grades at a strict Baptist parochial school, and it was All King James Bible, All the Time. From Kindergarten onwards, every student had to memorize a certain number of verses of Scripture every week (the kids who couldn’t read yet had to have somebody teach it to them by rote), and you could be called on to recite at any time – in class, in Chapel, passing a teacher in the hall, etc. Even after we left that school, we stayed in churches that primarily used KJV, as well. The Good News or American Standard Bibles weren’t forbidden, but they were looked on as needless crutches for wimps or dilettantes.

So, my sister and I started reading Shakespeare and his contemporaries on our own when were still in elementary school. We’d borrow the big book of complete plays Grandma had on her Shelf of Important Books (she later gave it to us) and read them out the way thivaia suggested upthread. We later came into a book with the Sonnets, “Venus and Adonis,” and “The Rape of Lucrece,” and devoured it.

These days most people seem to prefer 20th-century Bible translations or consider them more useful, which I don’t really have the perspective to weigh in on. But even though I grew up to be an atheist, I’m still deeply emotionally affected by with writing of the KJV. It sounds like magic words rolling off the tongue.

So, when I got into Grade 9 in public school and all the other kids were having their Official introduction to Shakespeare™, sheltered thing that I was, I was completely gobsmacked that they seemed to have so much trouble with it. I just didn’t have a frame of reference for not spending one’s formative years reading and speaking Jacobean English half the time. The structure is really the same; you just have to deal with a lot of different vocabulary and the second-person singular case (which is a good thing to know for many foreign languages, anyway).

I guess if there's any takeaway to this story, it's that kids are probably smarter than we give them credit for, and if you want to share a love of Shakespeare with your kids it's probably helpful to expose them to English from that period at an early age.

-----

From a teen girl's POV, Hamlet is Just Another Douchebag who won't shut the fuck up about himself, and he was a real shit to Ophelia.

Oh, yeah, Ophelia was a really powerful figure, and cautionary tale, for us girls. It’s so tempting for so many girls that age to wrap up all their self-worth in wanting to be wanted by some boy no matter how he treats you. I hope that resonated with my classmates as it did with me. I think that's another good reason to teach Hamlet in high school.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


From Kindergarten onwards, every student had to memorize a certain number of verses of Scripture every week (the kids who couldn’t read yet had to have somebody teach it to them by rote), and you could be called on to recite at any time...

Meant to add, you were also expected to understand the passage as well as recite it - the teacher or whoever would usually ask you questions about what it meant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2014


Pleasure is the ultimate metric of art, its alpha and omega.

How many hedons to a piece of art?

how many people really are powerfully moved by him today as opposed to merely thinking they should be moved by him, and sort of mesmerizing themselves into thinking that therefore they are?

I have no idea. (Tho Ira Glass seems to be one, at least). But you seem to have a pretty firm grasp on all this, shivy, why don't you tell me?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2014


why don't you tell me?

9. Exactly 9.
posted by shivohum at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2014


"What was remarkable about Glass’s tweet wasn’t so much his judgment of Shakespeare’s merit but the fact that the Bard of Public Radio expressed himself like a resentful millennial filling out a teacher evaluation."

Exactly. The word "relatable" is the bane of Literature teachers throughout the English-speaking world.
posted by straight at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2014


Then why are you looking to Ira Glass for input on whether you should like Shakespeare? Does he have unique standing?

Um...whose comment were you reading, JHarris? I was talking to empath. At no point, at all, did I "look to Ira Glass for input on whether I should like Shakespeare."

And it remains, once in a while Joe Bloggs is right. In fact, a scattering of Joe Bloggs arriving to the same conclusions can be an important sign that attitudes are changing.


Yes, which is why I talk in terms of probabilities, not absolutes. It is possible that your ranting uncle who claims that anthropogenic climate change is all bunkum is right and the vast majority of climate scientists are wrong. It is not, however, a possibility worth giving serious consideration to.
posted by yoink at 9:18 AM on August 1, 2014


9. Exactly 9.

Great work! Thanks!
posted by octobersurprise at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2014


Unless I'm mistaken, he became popular in the mid/late 18th century even in Germany and he was controversial for centuries in France, as he wasn't a classicist à la Racine. In places like Japan and China he became popular even later (early 20th century) and all these places already had a robust literary tradition. He's very influential and for good reason, but the need to proclaim him as absolute #1 usually disregards other major writers like Cervantes, Dante, Goethe, Hugo etc. or his own Grecoroman literary influences. If I may appropriate Sartre's quote (in another context): "A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form". His work speaks on its own, but I don't think he's The Only Bard That Matters either.

ersatz, you're arguing with an entirely imaginary opponent. If you go back and look at my comment you'll see that I talked of "European" languages and "postcolonial" literatures. Neither Japan nor China fit either of those bills. China, indeed, is perhaps the great exception to widespread Shakespearean influence (one only has to instance Kurosawa's near-obsession with Shakespeare to strike Japan off the "uninfluenced by Shakespeare" list).

As for your little potted history of Shakespeare's slow rise to prominence in non-English languages: yes and so what? I made no claim that Shakespeare instantaneously dominated European literature. Yes, there was resistance to Shakespeare in a France dominated by Boileau's classicism. But France, like England, Germany, Spain, Italy (etc. etc.) went through its Romantic revolution. There's a reason that the role Sarah Bernhardt coveted above all others was Hamlet and that her triumph in that role cemented her reputation as the great dramatic actress of her day. Here's a review, by the way, of a book on Shakespeare's reputation in France, which gives a sketch of how, by the late C19th, he had come to eclipse Racine and Corneille (et al) on the French stage.

I also never "proclaimed" Shakespeare the "absolute #1." I'm not even sure what such a proclamation would mean. If the question is "most influential writer of all time" I suspect the prize goes to either Homer or the various anonymous authors of the biblical scriptures. But if the question is "most widely praised, and most directly influential literary author in the world since the C16th, then it's clearly Shakespeare. There's no other contender who even comes close. Cervantes, Goethe, Hugo et al? They're not even in the running. Start adding up the actual performances of Shakespeare's plays, the film adaptations, the operas etc. etc., then throw in the adaptations, the homages, the allusions, the reinventions etc. There's no one else even in the conversation.

None of which, of course, can be adduced to prove or disprove Shakespeare's "greatness." If you're more moved, more dazzled, more intellectually stimulated by, say, Ben Jonson than by Shakespeare or by Dashiell Hammett than by Shakespeare well, that's the way it goes. But as simply a matter of factual, observable, traceable influence, Shakespeare's dominance in the modern era is inarguable.
posted by yoink at 9:40 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


ersatz, you're arguing with an entirely imaginary opponent

I did imply I like Cervantes after all. My point was broader in that there's more to literature than European languages after the 18th-19th century or postcolonial literatures.

There's no one else in the conversation in big part due to English being the current lingua franca. Cervantes and Dante might not be in the running in the Anglosphere, yet people still read novels and works written in vernacular.
posted by ersatz at 3:58 AM on August 2, 2014


I was surprised no one brought Robert Louis Stevenson's Virginibus Puerisque into this:
... . I have always suspected public taste to be a mongrel product, out of affectation by dogmatism; and felt sure, if you could only find an honest man of no special literary bent, he would tell you he thought much of Shakespeare bombastic and most absurd, and all of him written in very obscure English and wearisome to read. And not long ago I was able to lay by my lantern in content, for I found the honest man. He was a fellow of parts, quick, humorous, a clever painter, and with an eye for certain poetical effects of sea and ships. I am not much of a judge of that kind of thing, but a sketch of his comes before me sometimes at night. How strong, supple, and living the ship seems upon the billows! With what a dip and rake she shears the flying sea! I cannot fancy the man who saw this effect, and took it on the wing with so much force and spirit, was what you call commonplace in the last recesses of the heart. And yet he thought, and was not ashamed to have it known of him, that Ouida was better in every way than William Shakespeare. If there were more people of his honesty, this would be about the staple of lay criticism. It is not taste that is plentiful, but courage that is rare. ... .
posted by bluffy at 8:58 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stevenson is joined in his dislike of Shakespeare by Voltaire, Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, and Wittgenstein:

Voltaire accused England of loving Shakespeare not for his plays, but for his reputation: ‘he has been their taste for two hundred years; and what is the taste of a nation for two hundred years, will be so for two thousand: this taste becomes a religion; and there are in your country a great many fanatics in regard to Shakespeare’.
posted by shivohum at 2:18 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


There are people who don't love Cervantes?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2014


Who fucking CARES if it's relatable? This guy needs to ATTEND more and get out of his namby-pamby little world of quotidian melodramas.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:37 PM on August 3, 2014


I especially like how people are attacking a guy who actually produces and writes new material consistently for not spending enough time reading something someone wrote several centuries ago. IMO, producing a steady stream of even mediocre work is better than spending all your time trying to enjoy something written a few centuries ago.
posted by empath at 8:19 AM on August 4, 2014


Who knows ... perhaps spending a bit more time appreciating and understanding great things from the past might elevate his own work above mediocre.
posted by vacapinta at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Or maybe historical and critical perspective could actually have value in themselves? Since we're back to first principles* here. I mean, "something someone wrote several centuries ago" doesn't actually sound like a sick burn unless you're already pretty far down the rabbit-hole** of presentism***.

* from something someone wrote several millennia ago
** from something someone wrote a century and a half ago
*** from something someone came up with afresh every single time, as if it had never been thought of by anyone before

posted by RogerB at 8:58 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


IMO, producing a steady stream of even mediocre work is better than spending all your time trying to enjoy something written a few centuries ago.

There's really no either/or here. He can enjoy something written a few centuries ago and continue to produce a steady stream of mediocre work.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:40 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stevenson is joined in his dislike of Shakespeare by Voltaire, Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, and Wittgenstein:

Wow, it's like the weight of the names matters more than the quality of the work.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:21 PM on August 4, 2014


Wow, it's like the weight of the names matters more than the quality of the work.

Let's just agree that anybody who's been anthologized or noticed by the library of congress sucks. The only good writers are the ones who never publish or who publish only toothpaste tube copy.

"Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventative dentifrice that can be of significant value when used as directed in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care." Do you know who wrote that? Of course not. You have no idea. She'll die alone in a ditch, but do you care? No, you're all "Tolstoy this, Ira Glass that, Voltaire these, the bard of Avon those." Y'all's nothing but a buncha slavering starstricken so and sos who wouldn't know a good line if it rared up and knocked out one of your eyes.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2014


Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.


—Lex Luthor
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2014


Stevenson is joined in his dislike of Shakespeare by Voltaire, Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, and Wittgenstein

And, again, the fact that it is possible to count and individually name the noteworthy people who have held this view is, in fact, the surest proof of its rarity. That is what "the exception that proves the rule" means.

(And to forestall the usual silly discussion that that adage provokes: no, it's not a paradox. That something happens "as a rule" does not mean it happens in every case. Rules have exceptions. The very fact, however, that we notice these cases as "exceptional" proves that "as a rule" that is not how things go. Thus the "exception proves the rule"--the very fact that we are struck by a black swan as an "exception" proves that "as a rule" swans are white.)
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


And, again, the fact that it is possible to count and individually name the noteworthy people who have held this view is, in fact, the surest proof of its rarity.

No doubt. Though of course they didn't just dislike Shakespeare just to dislike him; they had their reasons why (lack of moral gravity, melodrama, etc.). And their existence gives reassurance to those who don't find themselves loving Shakespeare, that though they may be few, there are some illustrious members among their ranks, and their feeling is not ipso facto philistine or sophomoric.
posted by shivohum at 6:29 PM on August 5, 2014


Can we agree, at least, that their criticisms extended beyond "Shakespeare sucks," which is pretty ipso facto sophomoric? (which isn't even fair to sophomores...)
posted by muddgirl at 7:34 PM on August 5, 2014


TBF, they had more than 140 characters to make their case.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:09 PM on August 5, 2014


I sometimes find myself unable to express something with proper nuance on twitter because of that limitation. So I don't say it, lest I sound like a moron. But I don't have a radio show so whatever I guess.
posted by phearlez at 9:19 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of the proposition that Shakespeare is over-rated that this tweet is too short to contain.
posted by straight at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


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