Friday, January 27, 2012
Whether or not the Reader accepts the premise that William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was not what he seemed (i.e. a writer/poet and man of letters) or my own premise that he was in fact the inventor of Hollywood (i.e. the first celebrity producer) William Shakespeare was not a fool or a foil, as depicted in the film Anonymous: he was anything but. I see him not only as a forerunner to Cecil B. de Mille and Louis B. Mayer, but also a forerunner to the Vampire Capitalist and Wall Street corporate greedmeister as depicted in the movie Wall Street by Michael Douglas. Shakespeare had a lot of business savvy, was denounced for being greedy just like Gordon Gekko, was accused of piracy and plagiarism just like Dan Brown and Steven Spielberg, hoarded grain to drive up prices during a famine just like Monsanto, owned a theater company (i.e.studio) just like Goldwyn (well, a partner, anyway, with my own ancestor John Underwood among others), and fostered a bastard son who became England's first real estate developer, the forerunner of Samuel Levitt, as well as publisher of the first 'get rich quick' books: Sir William Davenant. And more important still was the ongoing conceit that even an uneducated commoner with illiterate parents, no books, no known education, and illiterate daughters could still be a genius entrepreneur who made good. In short, he embodied the future myth of the American Dream. So what could be more relevant than that?
That Shakespeare was a successful businessman (and also tax evader, as it happens--in other words an Elizabethan Romney)--is one of the few facts that actually exist about the man. Even Stratford-Upon-Avon is really just a theme park, all of which was built 150 years after his death, during which time nobody even remembered or heard of him in that town until P.T. Barnum showed up and tried to buy the "New Place" (already rebuilt at least once from scratch).
Thus was Shakespeare, followed by his son Davenant (also Poet Laureate of Maryland, later on) the original Brand Name: a true symbol and founder of all that America and our British Imperial ancestors valued most: money, property, and power over the works and labors of others. Small wonder his corporate sponsors and their Academic Ayatollahs protect him and his legacy with such ferocity.
All of which reminds me of the forthcoming U.S. election, and the continuing efforts of politicians to outdo themselves rewriting history, polishing their Newspeak, protecting their own best interests, altering facts to support their own ideology, and making Orwell the greatest prophet since Jesus.