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October 25th, 2011


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11:12 am - Rant about Anonymous
This new film Anonymous (by the guy that brought you 2012, Independence Day and The Day after Tomorrow) is a dramatisation of the nonsensical theory that Shakespeare's plays were written by someone posh: specifically the earl of Oxford. Utter balderdash and claptrap. These folks don't actually do anything useful, but they can pay PR people to rewrite history so it looks like they did things.

Sony pictures have compounded the insult by issuing 'educational packs' for schools. It's the second item down at that link, just above 'Step up to a healthier you' from the Pork Board.

The only Shakespeare revisionism that I think has any credibility at all is the suggestion that many of his plays were collaborative with his fellow actors. If you get to like a modern TV show you do find out the degree to which actors and others contribute to the development of the finished text. The King James Bible, and The Simpsons, and loads of stuff in between, are the result of collaborative effort. And all creative effort owes a lot to everything which has gone before.

There's a tension between celebrating the heroic individual creator - who is real - and the real 'anonymous', the mass of unacknowledged co-creators. This is really why libertarianism and extreme neo-liberalism are nuts. We do owe each other. But this shite attributing his work to some upper class twerp. No.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
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Good article, thanks. Mr. Emmerich has made a film for our time, in which claims based on conviction are as valid as those based on hard evidence. Well expressed. This kind of false controversy makes people think that a 'fair position' is somewhere between the two arguments. Like climate change or intelligent design.
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 25th, 2011 10:56 am (UTC)
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This is beginning to remind me of GRR Martin's "The Way of Cross and Dragon".

I think the only solution is an sf film about time war between different "who wrote Shakespeare?" factions, with the conclusion being that it really was Shakespeare.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
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And what a shame that Douglas Adams isn't around to write it.
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From:gummitch
Date:October 25th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
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Another good piece here:

http://www.dispositio.net/archives/449

I do get annoyed at the argument that always gets trotted out that Shakespeare couldn't possibly have acquired that kind of education, given his background. It's such damned snobbery.
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From:kalypso_v
Date:October 25th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)
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And there's nothing to stop him shagging someone with that kind of education and then sharing highbrow pillow-talk.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. I like the dialogue he quotes from the film:

Oxford: “Romeo and Juliet. A romantic tragedy in iambic pentameter.”
Jonson: “ALL OF IT? Is it possible?”
Oxford: “Of course."

Genius!

As he says 'I don’t think all Oxfordians or Baconians, or even Marlovians or Sidneyans, are stupid. Anonymous, on the other hand, is. It’s a pompous, ignorant, ill-informed, and clumsy film.'
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From:londonkds
Date:October 25th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Has the writer ever seen or read Romeo and Juliet? Or is he suggesting someone else put the comedy bits in (probably that lowbrow thicko Shakespeare)?
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
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Oh, in the comments he gets a testy rebuke from the script writer himself!
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From:watervole
Date:October 25th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
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I always liked one of Asimov's comments on Shakespeare in which he contended that the plays clearly WERE by Shakespeare, because there were 'mistakes' which an educated man of the period would not have made. (ie things that were contrary to scientific belief of the period)
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From:kalypso_v
Date:October 25th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
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If the Earl of Oxford (or candidate of choice) were writing the works attributed to Shakespeare, he'd be an upper-class genius rather than a twerp; there's nothing about being posh that excludes genius, any more than there is about being working-class or bourgeois. My own fervent belief is that Shakespeare was a hard-headed businessman cum bohemian poet, who wrote fantastic verse and thought "That'll pack 'em in at the box office!"
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
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There isn't any genetic difference between the different social classes, so for sure, there is the same % chance of any single individual being a genius, regardless of origin. I think Newton was minor gentry? So there's one for a start. I've certainly never said 'someone else must have done the work for Newton'. Shelley, there's another one.
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From:steepholm
Date:October 25th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
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True, but there's plenty of independent evidence of Oxford's twerpliness - which is I suppose more evidence against his authorship, were it needed.
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From:korintomichi
Date:October 25th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
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It's a Roland Emmerich film. What did you expect? Please tell me that at least he destroys 16th Century London in an amusing and implausible way?
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
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The frost-fair on the Thames is presented as a massive glacier. The Great Fire of London happens sixty years early. Plague-ridden rats develop their own civilisation.
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From:sjkasabi
Date:October 27th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
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What? Hang on! Maybe I *do* want to see this movie ;-)
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From:azdak
Date:October 26th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
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I thinks it requires much less of a leap of the imagination for a non-noble to write convincingly about kings and princes than it takes for a nobleman to write convincingly about the lives of the poor. There have been kings and princes strutting across the stage for about as long as there have been stages for them to strut on. Even if a playwirght had never met anaristircat personally, he could just copy what he'd seen. But even the bourgoisie don't get a look-in as tragic heroes until the Enlightenment, and the working classes have to wait even longer than that (with Woyzeck as an extraordinary fifty-years-ahead-of-its-time exception). And yet Shakespeare manages to write about Nym and Pistol and Bardolph and Mistress Quickly without just making them figures of fun. How, I want to know, did an overprivileged aristocratic courtier like the Earl of Oxford manage to get insides the minds of such lowlife so convincingly? Scenes which display such penetrating psychological insight into the underclass could surely only have been written by someone who was himself an illiterate minor criminal with an eye to the main chance. Otherwise he couldn't possibly have been able to imagine what it was like. Clearly Henry V was written by TWO people, neither of them Shakespeare.
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From:communicator
Date:October 26th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
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Yes. I read something on livejournal in the last couple of days about the use of humble rustic imagery in Shakespeare: Greasy Joan keeling the pot and so on. You don't get Greasy Joan in aristocratic pastoral poetry.
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From:electricant
Date:October 29th, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
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Thought you might appreciate this fanvid, inspired by the following thought:
'...when I first saw the trailer it I'd thought "Oooh, I wonder what keeps the 'real' Shakespeare anonymous. Are they a women? Or gay? Or black?" And then they turn out to be some random noble dude, blech.'

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