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Cancel Shakespeare Right Now, I’m Serious

We’ve Been Letting Him Get Away With This For 500 Years

By Maggie Johnson


Photo Credit: WikiImages via Pixabay


Tsk, tsk, tsk, Mr. Shakespeare. Shameful. Your numerous problematic actions cannot stand any longer; not on my watch. I write this article as a concerned citizen, as a previous fan of William, and as a protector of our culture. I take on this mantle for the good of our society, not because I wish to dredge up centuries-old problems. 


My first gripe with Shakespeare (if I can call him that), is not a main concern, but I feel the need to bring it up. He has dropped off! I said it! He has not published any new work since 1613! I’m all for resting on your laurels, but this is getting ridiculous. Relying on “greatest hits” and “complete collections” to make your money can only last so long. Just because Romeo and Juliet is a timeless piece of fiction doesn’t give him a free pass to stop creating. It’s almost as if something is up. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would almost believe that he is not in fact alive and well. Oh well. No time for such thoughts here. 


My second concern stems from Shakespeare's PROBLEMATIC relationship life. As I write this, I reflect on his highly publicised marriage to Anne Hathaway. Now, both are consenting adults, but that age gap is getting concerning. Sources show that he was born in 1564, while Anne Hathaway (the great actress, of course) was born in 1982. That is a CENTURIES long age gap, over 400 years. Shakespeare joins the pantheon of great male artists whose relationships we excuse due to their contributions to theater. At this point, you have to wonder what they even talk about, truly.


“Oh, what was the trending song the year you were born, Will? Mine was Physical, by the great Olivia Newton-John. “ “Oh, nothing as exciting, my dear, just the medieval pipe band that came around once a year.” 


My final concern about Shakespeare’s ability to stand as an icon of British culture is this: he rips off storylines of great movies. There are countless examples available. The most egregious (especially as it is a children’s movie) is Gnomeo and Juliet. Shakespeare changes ONE word in the title, and effectively writes a stuffier, more convoluted version of the same plot. Another example of this, of course, is The 10 Things I Hate About You. By changing the characters ever so slightly, he has fooled us all for centuries. But no longer. I am catching on, Mr. Shakespeare. He even uses names inspired by the original cinematic source material!! The example that tipped me over the edge into writing this article is that of the recent movie Anyone But You. Now, this is a subtler comparison, certainly, but the markers are there. The movie even quotes him! And as a thank you, he churns out a subpar play that blatantly uses the characters and storylines (although eliminating a gay wedding-- problematic much??).


Therefore, I believe it is imperative that we cease all support of Shakespeare immediately. Never again will I attend a play of his, nor will I buy any new material that he puts out (assuming he will, although I lose hope with each passing day that he has not retired). I say this with conviction and no sense of irony: CANCEL HIM NOW. There is no room for excuses. I will not accept an apology, except possibly in the form of an original play starring me.

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