The Play’s The Thing

Posted By on October 31, 2011

Occupy Anonymous: “I am Not Only Witty in Myself,” says Falstaff, “but the cause of wit — or at least artistic talent– in other men.”

You’d think that it might be enough, in the words of the Slate magazine’s inimitable cult-crit specialist Ron Rosenbaum, “to remain silent in the face of [the] stupidity [of]  this…. culture-destroying ugliness.”

Or that it would suffice us to be enlightened, as Wesley Morris at the Boston Globe instructs us, that “Roland Emmerich destroys things for a living. Why not the reputation of a man who lacked the imagination to blow up the Sistine Chapel?”

Or there’s Ben Brantley, taking up column inches in the New York Times, assuring us  “nothing” — including apparently blowing up the Sistine Chapel –  “could change the way I already feel about my Will.

For me (continues Brantley), Shakespeare is to his work sort of what, for others, God is to the Bible: an incredible creative intelligence subject to endless interpretations, none of which are necessarily wrong. I was raised in the church of Shakespeare. My grandfather was a university professor who taught the canon, and he read Charles and Mary Lamb’s “Tales From Shakespeare” to me as bedtime stories, before I had learned to read anything more sophisticated than Hot Stuff (“The Little Devil”) comic books.

But these breath-taking contributions to modern intellectual life are not the whole story.

If we go in for rougher stuff,  there’s the NYT’s newest specialist in early modern studies and author of the erudite epistle to the unlettered, How Shakespeare Changed Everything, Stephen Marche.

He tells us that in Emmerich’s movie  “Shakespeare is finally getting the Oliver Stone/“Da Vinci Code” treatment, with a lurid conspiratorial melodrama involving incest in royal bedchambers, a vapidly simplistic version of court intrigue, nifty costumes and historically inaccurate nonsense.”

Even our nostalgia for “Tales from Shakespeare,” continues Marche,  cannot wipe away an ugly reality. It appears that Roland Emmerich’s shock troops are coming to knock on your door. “First,” announces Mr. Marche,

they came for the Kennedy scholars, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Kennedy scholar. Then they came for Opus Dei, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Catholic scholar. Now they have come for me.

Somehow, even though they had come, Marche managed to go on for several hundred more words about how bad the movie was and how ridiculous the Oxfordians are.  It’s all one to him. He must have had a trapdoor to his secret composition room. But I have good news for Mr. Marche’s embattled ego.  Someone, at last, is…is fighting back.

They aren’t going to get you, Mr. Marche. Your troops have rallied. The newest wrinkle in the saga of Roland Emmerich against the scholars is the bravely audacious, culture-saving facebook initiative, “Occupy Anonymous.”  These facebook scholars have got it all figured out:

Roland “10,000 BC” Emmerich’s film ANONYMOUS, which posits that William Shakespeare was an illiterate drunk and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford wrote his plays, is in theaters now.

Anyone who has examined this question with any level of logic and scholarship knows the proposition is absolute bulls-pizzle, propagated by fobbing, ill-nurtured flap-dragons of the worst order: it begins with the assumption that a middle class man from the country could not possibly have written the exalted Works of the Bard; that knowledge of politics and court intrigue was “the exclusive province of the upper class,” according to the Oxford Society.

Occupy Anonymous’ breathtaking commitment to scholarly method is illustrated in that sentence by the absence of a link to the quotation. Attempting to verify the quote on google I came up empty-handed. It appears that the Occupy Anonymous group (which later morphed into the “Oxfrauds”) knows more about the Shakespeare-Oxford Society than it knows about itself, and has not yet figured out that the Shakespeare Fellowship even exists:

I’m urging you to visit your local cinema. Hang out and tell people coming out of the movie THE TRUTH about Shakespeare and Oxford. It is THEY who are being played!!!


I don’t mean to complain, though.

Actually, I’m listed as a founding member of the movement, and I’m hoping to occupy Anonymous as soon as I can find my car keys.  I’m with these people. All 93 of them.   I’m like Hamlet too. I don’t like to be played, either. Especially by people like the makers of Anonymous who — so I’ ve been told on Occupy Anonymous —  wouldn’t recognize a literary allusion if it bit them on the ass.

WTF: Emmerich Now Says “The Play’s The Thing”?

In keeping with my new-found enlightenment,  I was especially perturbed to notice that Roland Emmerich is now out claiming that the whole thing was just a “play.”


“Just a play?” He can’t say that. That’s our line at Occupy Anonymous.

My only complaint with the movement so far is that it’s not big enough, and not nearly loud enough.  We’re still awaiting reply from 566 people, and 26 actually said they aren’t attending.

That’s no way to save Stephen Marche.

Puleeze, people, drop whatever else you had on your schedule today, and join the movement to save western culture from Roland Emmerich. Occupy Anonymous today, before Emmerich’s thought police come for you, as they came for Mr. Marche, and take your mind away too.  By then, it will be too late….

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


4 Responses to “The Play’s The Thing”

  1. Lurking Ox says:

    About the Occupy Annonymous thing, I’m not sure there were 93 of them. 93 seems generous. I count at least 25 Oxfordians among the group, not including 3 of my agnostic neighbors. I also noticed that one of my neighbors kept “liking” Oxfordian comments all over the board despite the fact I am nearly positive he was a Stratfordian last week. Two more sent messages saying the cartoon guy was a mean dumbass. None thought he was a writer. I actually received 5 unsolicited messages remarking that he was not even the best cartoon writer they had heard (that day). In fact most thought the cartoon moderator guy was some sort of Oxfordian hoax with an adjective disorder. For my part, after watching him on the internet “recite” Hamlet (which is a play about a Hamnet of Stratford in several ways that I am unclear about) in under one minute, I actually felt bad for going over to his page and poking sticks at his movement. I imagine this will be one of his highlights. -LO

    “’Movements’ are appellations. There have been no ‘movements’ in history that I am aware of. And certainly none that were organized by people.” – Emory Adams’

  2. Lurking Ox says:

    The other guy you mentioned, RR, I have not been able to track him down.

  3. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Well, damn. I had such high hopes for it. I don’t see how Marche et al. can be saved the judgement of history w/out ’em. Ninety-three said they would show up at the time of composition, but I don’t see how we can occupy even 250 theatres with only 93 of us. Maybe someone needs to contact Ron Rosenbaum? He could be a huge asset here.

  4. Lurking Ox says:

    I agree with your assessment of this dilemma wholeheartedly and in six or seven subsequent ways followed by a string of novelists’ adjectives and topped with great literary flourish (just because that’s the way I like to agree with things). I also admire your formidable mathematical skills, as I was not able to catch on to this unfortunate arithmetic the first time I read it (and as I am almost ashamed to admit). My comprehension skills exist only in small pockets of particuar knowledge and do not wander about curiously or long for context. Connections complicate things, I find. I can only see the part of Shakespeare that has fallen into my small pond.

    Lurking Strat (LO’s neighbor)

    PS: I also reserve the right to disagree with you and/or to agree with you less enthusiastically in the future if any of your excellent points begin to become more (or less) clear to me.

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