Donnerstag, 21. Februar 2008

What's supposed to be so funny about love???

As you may have noticed I am writing two papers this semester, and one of them is on Shakespeare. As actually all paths are trodden, trampled, dried, and by now even paved when it comes to analysis of the play I decided to do something about Shakespeare in contemporary popular culture. I am going to focus on Almereyda's Hamlet (2000) and Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet with a little detour to Shakespeare in Love and Ten Things I Hate About You. I'll cut out Branagh though I think.

I'm doing the preparatory reading at the moment, and I think my next text is going to give me a heart attack. First of all it deals again with the opposition of high culture vs. popular culture. Popular culture luckily has found a way to incorporate high culture, to suck it in, chew it thoroughly and then spit it back out into the face of people who think there is only one right way to appreciate Shakespeare, and this way does not include evil Hollywood. Some of my professors and fellow students clearly exhibited this attitude during the last semester, much to my dismay but also to my amusement because when talking about Hollywood they clearly showed they didn't have a clue what Hollywood actually is.

It is pretty sad if academics dismiss Hollywood films as something unimportant because they don't like it/don't want to deal with it/feel they are too smart to deal with it. Apart from missing out on some good fun, they also neglect a part of our culture that has a huge impact on people. Movies draw us magically into the cinema; they tell a story in a way we care about the characters. They employ mechanism to manipulate us that are just worth understanding. Most of all they are products of our culture and its ideologies, mirroring and adressing them, supporting and questioning them at the same time.

So having finally written the rant on the arrogance of academics, this is what made me do it (apart from my little habit of evading work); it's located in a text about Romeo + Juliet:

"[Romeo and Juliet] already is a comedy, upon which a tragic denouement has been more or less arbitrarily imposed; at some point we are supposed to stop laughing and start crying. But where exactly is that point? There is, undeniably, something inherently funny about adolescent passion, even to the young."

The last bit just tipped me off. What the hell is supposed to be so inherently funny about the first time you fall in love? What is supposed to be funny about something as painful and nerve-wrecking as love anyway? Even reducing Romeo's and Juliet's love to mere passion points to the cynic speaking, and cynicism is not an academic position even if most academics love to cynically lament the downfall of our society. The author goes on to explain that the comic aspect of the passion of the young is why Shakespeare put Mercutio into the play, the cynic poking fun at Romeo and his passion. I think it is no coincidence that Mercutio dies early enough and that his death is the final event that sets the tragedy in motion that leads to the death of the star-crossed lovers. His death is the point where the audience stops laughing.

And now I'm going to take a deep breath and try not to rip apart this text in my paper.

4 Kommentare:

amanda james hat gesagt…

i just love reading your comments...makes me laugh a lot*g*

Purslane hat gesagt…

I am not amused. :queen-victoria:

You should have seen me freak out and yell at the text; that would have made you laugh. ;)

amanda james hat gesagt…

i can imagine that-i've seen you doing things like that*ggg*

Purslane hat gesagt…

That's why I don't bring text to work anymore. Too embarassing.