Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shakespeare & Meryl Streep

I make an effort not to pick fights with anyone, as far as Shakespeare is concerned.

But Meryl Streep is picking a fight with Shakespeare, and I feel as if I must stand up for him.

Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and she were interviewed by Buzzfeed about their upcoming movie.

In light of the recent allegations of sexual assault and rape against Harvey Weinstein — and other accusations against actors like Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and others — Streep and Hanks were asked “the question of what to do with art once an artist's reputation has been compromised.” 

Apparently, Meryl Streep did not acknowledge the work she has done with Hoffman, Spacey, and Weinstein — and she did not speak to their alleged sexual crimes.

Instead, she decided to answer the question by accusing Shakespeare of being a terrible man, in order to defend and protect Weinstein and others:

“We still revere Shakespeare,” Streep said. “We haven't thrown it out, and there is no question that [The Merchant of Venice] is anti-Semitic. There is no question that The Taming of the Shrew is misogynist [sic]. Everybody has their blank spots, but the genius that understands so much else about the human experiment is worth safeguarding, and shouldn't be touched.”

She continued to say: “People who are terrible also have terribly clear insights on other subjects, so I don't think you throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

There is so much about her answer here that is offensive and wrong. 

What is most abhorrent about her answer is that she is trying to normalize deviant and criminal behavior, and she is suggesting that men like Weinstein should not be punished — they should be safeguarded, and they should not be thrown out.

Sexual assault and rape should not be watered down and excused as merely “terrible” misdeeds of “genius” men who have “blank spots.”

In the process, she is tearing down William Shakespeare, who is not here to defend himself.

She also says that there is “no question” that the Merchant of Venice play is anti-Semitic.

Is she saying that Shakespeare was an anti-Semite — that he hated Jews?

She also says that The Taming of the Shrew play is “misogynist” — which is a noun, not an adjective.

Did she mean to say the play was misogynistic? Or was she trying to say that Shakespeare himself was a misogynist?

In other words, was she saying that Shakespeare wrote a misogynistic play, and therefore was only partially misogynistic — or was she saying that he was wholly a misogynist, and perhaps all of his plays should be judged as woman-hating?

Is she saying that Shakespeare hated women?

She also says that there is “no question” about the misogyny in the play.

She speaks as if it is common knowledge, as if there is not any debate on the matter, and as if everyone agrees on the anti-Semitism and misogyny.

That is incredibly offensive, and it betrays her utter lack of understanding of these plays, and of Shakespeare himself.

I have discredited the charge of anti-Semitism in Merchanthere and here.

I have also discredited the charge of misogyny in Shrewhere.

You may not agree with my conclusions, or my interpretation of the plays. But I do not think you can agree that there is “no question” as she would have you believe.

Her attack on Taming of the Shrew also reveals her to be a hypocrite. 

After all, she did play Katherine, with Raul Julia as Petruchio, in a Shakespeare in the Park production, in 1978 (which was later filmed).

So, if the play is misogynistic, why did she play Kate?

If Shakespeare was a misogynist, why did she even do any Shakespeare at all?

Why would she perpetuate a woman-hating play written by a woman-hating man — by playing Kate, the lead role?

It seems to me that Meryl Streep has not figured out what to say about her friends like Mr. Weinstein, so she has resorted to insulting the memory of Shakespeare.

When she won an Oscar, for The Iron Lady, produced by Weinstein — she thanked him on stage and called him “God.”

Roman Polanski has multiple accusations of multiple sexual crimes, including the allegation that he raped a 10-year-old girl.

When Polanski was awarded his Oscar in 2003, many people in Hollywood applauded at the Academy Awards ceremony, and gave him a standing ovation — despite the fact that he was not there to collect it, since he has been a fugitive from U.S. justice since 1978.

Meryl Streep was one of those who stood up and applauded him.

When the news broke about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Meryl Streep issued a statement, which began: “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported.”

She did not condemn the man.  

More recently, she said that the kinds of things Weinstein was accused of doing were “the most gargantuan example of disrespect.”

Again she did not condemn the man, and again she excused his alleged criminal behavior as nothing more than “disrespect” towards women.

I do not mean this blog post to be an attack on her personally. But she seems to represent a privileged attitude, especially in Hollywood, where what is illegal for the rest of humanity is excusable for “genius” artists.

She seems to want to defend Harvey Weinstein, who it should be noted, is perhaps most famous for producing the film, Shakespeare In Love.

I think it is more than a coincidence that one of the most notorious alleged sexual criminals in Hollywood is the same man who made a film in which Shakespeare was unfaithful to his wife.

Clearly, Weinstein needed to dishonor Shakespeare and blacken his reputation, in order to normalize and excuse his own alleged sexual deviancy. 

Tom Hanks was there for the same Buzzfeed interview, and apparently did not say anything to challenge Streep’s attack on Shakespeare.

Hanks is a patron of the Shakespeare Center for Los Angeles, and could have defended Shakespeare.

He chose not to. However, he did mention how “Picasso was a womanizer” — which is another attempt to normalize criminal behavior.

Steven Spielberg was there too, but is not reported to have defended the Bard.

Sadly, it looks as if too many people in the world, and in Hollywood, do not understand and do not appreciate Shakespeare.

Even worse, it seems that they need to pull down Shakespeare to their level, rather than try to lift themselves up to his.

If they continue to say things like this, and continue to diminish Shakespeare, there might come a day when Shakespeare will be thrown out, with the bathwater. With guards like Streep and Hanks to keep Shakespeare safe, who needs enemies?

I hope you will join me, and become a voice to defend Shakespeare, and rescue him from anyone who abuses his memory.


David B. Schajer

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