HBO’s House of the Dragon and woke casting, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Once upon a time, HBO’s House of the Dragon was praised for its commitment to diversity, and anyone who disagreed was attacked as a racist, but suddenly the woke have completely changed direction, and they’re now claiming black story lines haven’t been given the proper respect, wondering whether black people should watch the show at… Continue reading HBO’s House of the Dragon and woke casting, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Bruce Springsteen and the artistic necessity of cultural appropriation

The Boss’ new album will be composed of entirely culturally appropriated songs, a collection of “soul music” covers, but that is inherently a good thing.  Harold Bloom’s seminal The Anxiety of Influence reveals why all art, if not all ideas entirely, can be seen as the product of cultural appropriation.  Bruce Springsteen is just the… Continue reading Bruce Springsteen and the artistic necessity of cultural appropriation

Station Eleven, Hamlet, and the importance of the stories we tell each other and ourselves

HBO Max’s Station Eleven could’ve been a standard post-apocalyptic drama, but the introduction of a traveling caravan of actors who perform Shakespeare after the world ends, transforms the show into a story about stories.  Their importance, their interpretation, how they are shared and how they change over time, something made apparent in the very first… Continue reading Station Eleven, Hamlet, and the importance of the stories we tell each other and ourselves

Hamlet, The Northman, and Shakespeare’s genius through the looking glass

Robert Egger’s The Northman is based on the same source material as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a Viking legend circa 1,000 AD, but takes a completely different path, crafting an almost anti-Hamlet.  This “Shakespherean” mode of adaptation presents unique opportunity to return to Shakespeare’s original roots and illuminate both works. Despite attempts to cancel the world’s greatest… Continue reading Hamlet, The Northman, and Shakespeare’s genius through the looking glass

Dogs rule the world, from essential worker to best friend and now master of their domain

Dogs began their descent from wolves some 130,000 years ago when an enterprising pack discovered a new source of food and warmth ripe for exploitation.  Today, there is little doubt who is in charge in most households, as canines have transitioned from essential workers for hunters and farmers to loveable, furry, spoiled parasites, doted over… Continue reading Dogs rule the world, from essential worker to best friend and now master of their domain

“To be or not to be” is the most famous speech in the English language, but what does it really mean?

On the surface, Hamlet ponders life and fear of death, but the subtext veers far beyond that into morality and conscience, reflecting the themes of the play and the broader range of the human condition. Not bad for a speech that seems almost accidentally stuck into the final product, as if Shakespeare wrote it for… Continue reading “To be or not to be” is the most famous speech in the English language, but what does it really mean?

Shakespeare’s Othello, the Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence, and the indeterminacy of radical translation

It took close to 350 years for mathematics and philosophy to catch up with the ideas about the human mind explored in Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.  From computer science to the study of language, the opacity of other minds remains at the forefront of our understanding of each other and at the center of Iago’s scheming… Continue reading Shakespeare’s Othello, the Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence, and the indeterminacy of radical translation

Shakespeare’s Henry V and the timeless politics of power

King Henry V is a nationalist hero to the English, a villain to the French, and likely something in between to modern audiences.  Part heroic warrior, part self-serving, calculating politician, Henry’s rise prompts timeless questions about the nature of power in general. Shakespeare’s Henry V is a subtly yet at times disturbingly contradictory character, a… Continue reading Shakespeare’s Henry V and the timeless politics of power

The Tragedy of Macbeth and the Immortal Genius of William Shakespeare

An excellent new film adaptation combines a stark abstraction with rich performances and stunning moments to illuminate the complexities underlying a simple plot, but no single version can ever capture the impenetrable duality of man that serves as Shakespeare’s true subject matter.  Free will or foreordained?  We are a product of both, and this play… Continue reading The Tragedy of Macbeth and the Immortal Genius of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare: Is there at least one dead white dude worthy of redemption?

Despite calls to cancel the Bard, NPR reports that black theater actors and directors are adapting Shakespeare’s plays in innovative new productions and interpretations, taking their place in a long, storied history of performances and a worldwide legacy that embraces all ethnicities.   Earlier this year, a movement was afoot to cancel, or at least greatly… Continue reading Shakespeare: Is there at least one dead white dude worthy of redemption?