Thursday, March 19, 2009

Othello 2

There is an article in the NYT today called "Teenage Girls Stand by their Man'. Apparently it is shocking and surprising to the writer, and several people interviewed, that teenage girls would want to blame Rhianna for getting smacked around by Chris Brown. The article is in the fashion and style section. Of course! Because only girls who want pretty purses care about this whole silly thing anyway.
The thing that sends me off the deep end is the ending, where a teacher suggests that the way to get these kids thinking is to have them write a new ending for Othello, one where Desdemona gets help in time. What would that look like? Perhaps adding a time machine, or the intervention of Jesus, or both would help, as it did in my current favorite film Hamlet 2. I mean, why should anybody have to die in a tragic play? It's a bummer, and it wrecks the sequel because the cast is all dead. And if we can rewrite Shakespeare, we can rewrite the private lives of pop stars, and then maybe our whole culture. Are you happy now? Good.
Okay, lets do this. But before we do I need to mention one of my all time favorite student papers. One of my students wrote a paper about Othello a few years back. The thesis was " Othello killed Desdemona because she was a cheating whore, and if my girlfriend cheated on me I would kill her too.". I had to hold still and breathe just a little before I gently suggested that he might have missed the part where Iago set her up, or that other part in class where we talked about how the whole double standard made it possible for him to do that.
Here is my suggested new ending for Othello. Jesus beams down in the time machine and holds a prayer circle ( kind of like the Bush in the Oliver Stone version) and everybody suddenly realizes that Iago is a manipulative sociopath ( who needs hugs, and prozac) this leads to the awarenesses that women have just as much right to sexual agency as men, being genuinely kind and pure and loving is so much more important than silly gossip, and come to think of it war is wrong, and so is racism. Everyone becomes gender neutral, a similar shade of pretty blue, gently environmentally socialist, and then they sing, loudly, about how therapy is going to help everyone. Curtain fades, as they all wander off to the female orgasm meditation circle. Aw.
Then Jesus gets back in the time machine and lands on the White House lawn. Soon Republicans and Democrats are similarly overcome with so much empathy and genuine hope for social justice that it feels like a warm bath on ecstacy. It spreads world wide, ending violence, oppression, bad taste, reality television, and pms. Did I mention that all world religions suddenly realize that they share a ban on killing and a do unto others rule, that if followed would end war and the necessity to carp about religion? Just love each other people. Stand by your man, stand by your woman, and stand by your designer purse. Fade out.


  1. I am shocked as well:

    On March 19, you wrote: "I am so shocked and horrified by the willful daring and just plain outrage of that switch to second person..."

    I don't believe that willful and daring are modifying "outrage," as "just plain" does, do you? Someone's living in a glass house and throwing pebbles.

  2. Yes I am a hypocrite. Where is the fun in being consistent, or justified, or I don't know, right all the time? Boring. But for the record my grammatically superior friend- you are right. I never can keep track of modifiers, commas, all that freaky stuff- and I still do not hesitate to shout " where is your thesis statement?" and " Stay in one tense!" and other critical remarks from the rooftops.

  3. It's so very reassuring to know that in the face of the rampant backlash against women's rights (those few that we managed to garner) and the sharp rise in teenage dating violence, that there will still be an old guard who are vigilantly watching form over content in regards to protesting voices.
    I is wiv you sista.

  4. Ooh lovely - much easier. Though I have just discovered that I need glasses, which might be why I was struggling with the stylish but hard to read white out of black.
    anyway, the award is well deserved and I so love reading your blog. It's utterly brilliant.