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Barbra Streisand misquotes Shakespeare.
October 3, 2002 4:48 AM   Subscribe

Barbra Streisand misquotes Shakespeare. She recited the lines believed to be from the play Julius Caesar, as she urged the party to oppose the Republican stance on Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties under President George W Bush.

This coming after the rumor that her recent letter to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt was ridden with typos and misspellings. Oi vey!
posted by gwong (48 comments total)

 
The woman is clearly insane. What will she do next - forget to put her account number on the check when she pays her phone bill?
posted by iconomy at 5:07 AM on October 3, 2002


I don't know. You can't even trust your own publicists these days. But to be honest, after a quick Google search, you can see why they'd be confused. Most of sites here (mainly weblogs hmm....) attribute the quote Caesar, or else anonymously. Shakespeare doesn't seem to get a mention though. Actually if this much evidence was laid out before me I'd take it as gospel.

Oh my God, I'm defending Streisand ...
posted by feelinglistless at 5:10 AM on October 3, 2002


Maybe she'll even put the phone bill in the envelope with her address not facing that cute little transparent window.

Anyway: her assistant wrote that letter, for absolute clarity's sake. And it was the ravings of a MADWOMAN! War will distract us from our country's domestic financial crisis??? *faints*
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:10 AM on October 3, 2002


omg! Is there no limit to the depths of depravity she will sink? Stop her before she quotes again! I heard she also goes through express checkout lanes at supermarkets with more than 8 items!!!
posted by RavinDave at 5:11 AM on October 3, 2002


Meanwhile, in other MetaFiler-front-page-worthy news...
posted by JollyWanker at 5:16 AM on October 3, 2002


Golly, I sure do hate Barbara Streisand. And Rosie O'Donnell, too. You see, they're both active Democrats, and I find neither of them physically attractive, so because of that they serve no benefit to me and I find them disgustingly annoying people who should just shut up and not get involved in anything. Hence, it makes perfect sense that they should be the targets of unbridled ridicule from all Americans for eons to come. Later I'm going to make of O'Donnel being overweight and Streisand having a large nose. It'll be a hoot.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:22 AM on October 3, 2002


Yeah, and all of those of you who call the President stupid, well so is Barbara ha!
posted by niceness at 5:25 AM on October 3, 2002


Golly, I sure do hate Barbara Streisand. And Rosie O'Donnell, too.

Whoooa there:
1)Nobody mentioned Rosie O'Donnel.
2)Nobody mentioned Streisand's looks.
3)What's at issue here is gullibility and poor fact checking. Streisand is guilty of quoting something seen on the internet and obviously unverifed. It's funny! And she probably wouldn't have quoted without the fake attribution. No one would have, which is probably why the real author attributed it to Caesar in the first place.
4)Just point 2 again. As of this post no one has mentioned her looks or talent.

Wait for the outrageous comment before you get outraged.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:35 AM on October 3, 2002


I heard she just got the second diamond of Zinthar and is about to become Mecha-Streisand!
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:38 AM on October 3, 2002


Yeah, and all of those of you who call the President stupid, well so is Barbara ha!

Last time I checked, Barbra wasn't the President of the US, but an entertainer. Somehow, deep stupidity seems more frightening when it comes from a leader than from an entertainer.
posted by kayjay at 5:47 AM on October 3, 2002


All I can think of are the immortal words of Elvis Presley at this point:

"You know someone said that the world's a stage
And each must play a part. "

Barbra should have just quoted the ethereal "someone"...she could have avoided this altogether!
posted by byort at 5:54 AM on October 3, 2002


What knocks me over is that, beyond the question of checking the veracity of something found on the net, the doggerel cited is so obviously not Willy's work. It's not in iambic pentameter, for one -- which doesn't rule it out automatically but would make any educated person check the source, I would imagine.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:14 AM on October 3, 2002


What's the difference between politics and entertainment, again? I keep forgetting.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:14 AM on October 3, 2002


Last time I checked, Barbra wasn't the President of the US, but an entertainer.

Top Ten Ways The World Would Be Different If Barbra Streisand Were President
posted by ChrisTN at 6:20 AM on October 3, 2002


My point, PinkStainlessTail, is that if this was anyone other than these two people this thread would have fallen immediately into the "who gives a fuck" category. For some strange reason if you're Rosie or Barbara, everything you say and do immediately becomes the subject of massive political scrutiny. Granted, she made this comment at a political rally, but did I really have to deal with four people talking about it for fifteen straight minutes last night on Crossfire?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:28 AM on October 3, 2002


"A truth alert has been put on the singer's website. "

Hmm... I've heard of weather alerts; I wonder who produces truth alerts. That could be a very important agency, if only their work was more widely distributed.
posted by djfiander at 6:32 AM on October 3, 2002


Ministry of Truth? Policy of Truth? Truth or Consequences?
posted by yonderboy at 6:36 AM on October 3, 2002


note to Barbara: stick to your day trading. you're like buttah.
posted by pallid at 6:46 AM on October 3, 2002


I thinks the lady does protext too much!
posted by UncleFes at 6:47 AM on October 3, 2002


Oi vey!

And this is significant how?
posted by mcwetboy at 6:49 AM on October 3, 2002


Oddly,I had been sent that quote and asked whether or not it was from Shake., andthis a few weeks before Streisand's use of it. It clearly was not but I did check the Shakepeare Concordance to verify.

No big deal that she made a slight error, which is now being used to make her seem an idiot: how many readers out there would have known without checking that it was not Shakespeare and that, given the quote, you would not have bothered to check? People in glass houses etc.
posted by Postroad at 6:55 AM on October 3, 2002


Shouldn't that be "embiggens the blood?"
posted by sklero at 6:56 AM on October 3, 2002


but did I really have to deal with four people talking about it for fifteen straight minutes last night on Crossfire?

Fair enough. I'd be breaking red if I sat through that too. Probably why I avoid pundit shows. Just going off this BBC article it's kind of funny, but 15 minutes of debate is pretty lame.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:02 AM on October 3, 2002


I noticed this story made the front page of Washington's paper of choice. Nothing but sycophantic fluff pieces for the Shrubya Cartel though. Darn liberal media!

Yeah, yeah, I know, some don't like the cute names I use for Bush. Get over it. He's a moron.
posted by nofundy at 7:03 AM on October 3, 2002


Give the lady a MeFi account. We'll straighten her out.
posted by adampsyche at 7:04 AM on October 3, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: Streisand and O'Donnell come in for this kind of criticism because they have consciously traded on their celebrity as entertainers to turn themselves into political figures. They take political stands, and make political pronouncements. Which Barbra was doing at the Democratic National Gala when she delivered the fake Shakespeare quote. As such, they are going to be taken to task for factual inaccuracy just as any politician would.

Male actors, such as Charlton Heston, who take political stands, also come for media criticism. And criticism here on MeFi, too.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:04 AM on October 3, 2002


Yeah, yeah, I know, some don't like the cute names I use for Bush.

How do you grind your axe, nailed to a cross like that? Does your every comment have to make reference to how people here have been mean to you?
Get over it indeed.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:12 AM on October 3, 2002


What knocks me over is that, beyond the question of checking the veracity of something found on the net, the doggerel cited is so obviously not Willy's work.

Quite. I was rather startled, to say the least, that anyone could mistake it for the genuine thing.

My point, PinkStainlessTail, is that if this was anyone other than these two people this thread would have fallen immediately into the "who gives a fuck" category.

Oh, I think it's firmly in that category, except to extreme partisan whackos who latch onto it for a desperate, juvenile "hehe."

I thinks the lady does protext too much!

Good one!
posted by rushmc at 7:14 AM on October 3, 2002


Exactly, Slithy_Tove... and you know had this happened to a prominent Republican -- be it politician or entertainer -- the folks here would be giggling with glee, getting out those ladders to climb onto their horses, and pulling out their chimp pictures and shrubs.

Of course, some people need no excuse.
posted by jammer at 7:21 AM on October 3, 2002


Er, no excuse rather. Now, who's the idiot? *blush*
posted by jammer at 7:23 AM on October 3, 2002


Ok, if you take aside the hate you people have for her, you folks have no point. So she was fooled by some internet hoax. In today's era who hasnt been fooled once by the Internet. Even the media that made fun of her, both on the left and right, were themselves ironically fooled by the "Blondes Will Disappear" hoax.

It is very easy to be destracted by the fact that she was hoaxed and not look at the words. What she said, still stand true independently.

"And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.

Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know?

For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
posted by adnanbwp at 7:31 AM on October 3, 2002


This quote has been making the rounds; I myself was sent it twice in e-mail. If you do a Google Groups you find thousands of citations in the last month alone. But if you dial DejaGoogle's time window backward, you find that the first appearance was December, 2001 in some kind of Usenet head-to-head quotefest, as a response to one of Churchill's. According to Snopes there is an earlier print citation dating back to 1992 -- but Latin experts disavow it, and it looks more and more like a certain bogus quote attributed to Petronius that was probably made up to underscore a point.
posted by dhartung at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2002


Oi vey!

Am I the only one imagining some sort of Yiddish punk band here? Or perhaps Jocko in a yarmulke?
posted by jjg at 8:19 AM on October 3, 2002


Oh, I think it's firmly in that category...?

no. it matters more than the usual celebrity hoohah and bluster because barb is actually using her vaunted position to affect political change. this has been her habit since the clinton administration and perhaps before. and in this light, misquoting and/or misattributing in this case matters, because she is using the respected scholarship of shakespeare to support her cause. this is akin to fabricating up scripture to suit your own ends when you cannot find an actual passage that applies.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:31 AM on October 3, 2002


The point that people pick on O'Donnell and Streisand is actually an interesting one, and I've love to see instances fleshed out more. We've discussed before -- and seen first hand -- on MeFi in innumerable obesity/diet threads and physical attractiveness threads that conventionally un-pretty people get treated different. Yet it's also true that we make fun of stupid models. The doubled-faced sword of misogyny? Equal opportunity meanness? A bit of both?

Of course, it's also true that both of them have made themselves political pundits in a way and are therefore targets.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:38 AM on October 3, 2002


All of this froofarah, and no one save grabbingsand has even made menton of the fact that this woman has a direct line to Richard Gephardt -- to believe her tell it, they talk regularly. Doesn't this bother anyone? Last I checked, Richard Gephardt served St. Louis and environs. Barbra Streisand lives in Malibu. He does not represent her -- or, at least, he's not supposed to. She is not a political advisor. Her only link to Gephardt is that she uses her name to make his party money. Why should she have more power to speak directly to him than 99.99999% of his own constituents?

If I lived in the St. Louis area, I'd be thinking very hard when I hit the voting booth whether or not I wanted a representative who wouldn't personally take my phone call, but comes running like Pavlov's dog to talk to a syncophant celebrity. It says a hell of a lot of about which side his bread is buttered on.
posted by Dreama at 9:04 AM on October 3, 2002


As though if you had a voice to use to effect political change you wouldn't use it.

As though you have never misattributed a quote. Or believed an urban legend. (I'm still realing from my taking hook line and sinker the death of blondes story)

Wow! Such assurances and finger pointing. Actually the link to her Truth Alert would be helpful.

It sounds to me as though she given a good mea culpa. She also includes another couple of quotes which sound quite good to me (I hope for her sake this doesn't prove to be another error)


"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
                 -John F. Kennedy

   "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
   To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally tresaonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."
                 -Theodore Roosevelt

The other day I was defending Nancy Reagan & today I find myself defending Streisand. Will wonders never cease?
posted by filchyboy at 9:32 AM on October 3, 2002


i find all celebrities that dabble in politics annoying regardless of political affiliation.

but if you use your celebrity to get your political opinions heard, you have to live with the scrutiny that will follow.

and don't blame a low-level employee for something you put your name on. if you put your name to it, the buck stops with you.
posted by probablysteve at 9:34 AM on October 3, 2002


/cheer Teddy
posted by rushmc at 10:06 AM on October 3, 2002


As though if you had a voice to use to effect political change you wouldn't use it.

Using it is one thing, abusing it -- by taking advantage of a position of privilege to gain access not available to other citizens to hammer on your own agenda as opposed to encouraging a more open forum for the less privileged -- is another.

The one thing that advisors, consultants and in many instances friends constantly tell elected officials is to think and learn more about what the "average citizens" or "real Americans" and thinking, what their beliefs and concerns are and how the people that they've chosen to represent them can best work to support their beliefs and address their concerns. Those on the inside lobby strongly for more face time with regular folks, not just contributors and not just during campaign season. They encourage real, serious attention to any meaningful (i.e. well-written, not insane, not cut and paste activist crap) e-mails and faxes from the "folks back home."

Of course, congresscritters and senators are extraordinarily busy, which is why staff deals with constituents as a front line and I don't expect that to change. I wouldn't want that to change. What ought to change is the ability of a non-constituent celebrity to break through that front line as a matter of course simply because of their personality status or fundraising capability.
posted by Dreama at 10:46 AM on October 3, 2002


...she is using the respected scholarship of shakespeare to support her cause.

I don't think anyone considers Shakespeare a "respected scholar". He was a playwright, and a great master of the English language, but the historical veracity of his plays leaves more than a little to be desired, particularly when it comes to ancient Rome. Hell, in Titus Andronicus, he has the Romans performing human sacrifice. He was much more interested in mythmaking and storytelling than he was in good historical scholarship.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2002


I don't think anyone considers Shakespeare a "respected scholar"

perhaps i should have used a more unwieldy phrase like "linguistic superiority" or maybe "esteemed authorship" -- but i was not saying that william shakespeare was a great historian. he was a playwright. even his so-called historical works are far from accurate. but the longevity of his influence is certainly evident of respect, not only from academics, but from the thinking world at large. and his wordcraft has been the subject of study and scrutiny and admiration for almost 400 years, so that would imply something akin to scholarly merit, yes?

the long and the short of it? shakespeare's words hold a weight, at least in the western world, that is second only to biblical quotation. invoking the bard is done with a certain amount of reverence, as if to say that the words of this man from stratford (or men from where-ever) speak universally for all of humanity.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:48 AM on October 3, 2002


but did I really have to deal with four people talking about it for fifteen straight minutes last night on Crossfire?

Nope. You could have changed the channel.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2002


I think Kenneth Lay, etc. have abused their ability to bend the ears of those in power much moreso than Babs. I think its funny how conservatives get up in arms when celebrities on the left criticize the prez, but they allow the Ape Guy to actually run a conservative organization.

Elect John Cusack!
posted by owillis at 12:07 PM on October 3, 2002


Just the other day, we were commenting about the source of this quote on a friend's weblog. IMO, if B.S. is going to use her fame as a pulpit for making political statements, she assumes the responsibility for getting her facts straight. Doesn't matter if she's left, right, male, female . . .
Babs has the bucks, she could hire a researcher.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:20 PM on October 3, 2002


Oops, her permalinks seem to be FUXOR. It is http://www.crystallyn.com, the entry for 9.22.2002.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2002


I think Kenneth Lay, etc. have abused their ability to bend the ears of those in power much moreso than Babs.

Indeed, agenda flogging is agenda flogging. But I'm slightly more willing to give credence to a business leader whose company (at one point) was a powerhouse in the economy and who employed thousands having a powerful voice than a carping celebrity whose societal contributions are in no ways tangible.

I think its funny how conservatives get up in arms when celebrities on the left criticize the prez, but they allow the Ape Guy to actually run a conservative organization.

If you're referring to Charlton Heston and the NRA, even you, died in the wool leftist that you are, have to admit that there's a lot more involved in being the working chair of a national organization with millions of members than there is in being a griping celebrity. Whatever you may think of Heston or the NRA, there's a lot more to what he's done than giving good soundbyte.
posted by Dreama at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2002


sklero - You're absolutely right. If you look up the original quote in Julius Caesar, it reads:

"It both embiggens the blood, just as it narrows the mind, Sylvia."
posted by soyjoy at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2002


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