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Alas, Poor Homey

8:00 PM -- The U.K.'s Mail on Sunday reports that "thousands of teenagers across the country are studying 'dumbed down' Shakespeare plays at school..."
    They are using texts and GCSE revision guides which reduce the great works of literature to a series of simplistic cartoons and jokes...

    Coordination Group Publications, which describes itself as one of the country's most popular educational publishers, produces a series of complete plays of Shakespeare and revision guides.

    Last year, more than 126,000 copies were sold direct to schools and on the high street.
Following are a couple of honest-to-God examples. Remember, this is Britain, not Kansas...

Old & boring:

    Romeo:
    But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
    It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
    Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick and pale with grief...


    Juliet:
    O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
    Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
    Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
    And I'll no longer be a Capulet...


    Romeo:
    Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
    Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
New & improved:

    Romeo: What's on your mind?

    Juliet: Oh, just moons and spoons in June.

    Romeo: Cool - let's get hitched then.
Old & boring:

    Macbeth:
    Is this a dagger which I see before me.
    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still...
New & improved:

    Macbeth: Oooh! Would you look at that.
Old & boring:


    John of Gaunt, from Richard II:
    This royal throne of kings, this sceptr'd isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
New & improved:

    Inger-land! Inger-land! Inger-land!
OK. I made that last one up. Anyone can write this stuff.

— Larry, Out, Damn Monkey! Light Reading

sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:52:01 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Old & Boring:

From King Richard III
"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

New & Improved:
"Dude, where's my car?"
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 3:52:00 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Very nice, sfwriter.
This calls to mind the late great Lord Buckley's Shakespearian renditions:

Hipsters, flipsters and finger-poppin' daddies,
Knock me your lobes!
I came here to lay Caesar out,
Not to hip you to him.
The bad jazz that a cat blows
Wails long after he's cut out,
The groovy is often stashed with their frames.
So don't put Caesar down...


Of course, his Lordship was not part of the standard school curriculum -- and he'd need to be dumbed down today as well.
sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:51:59 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Very funny. It reminds me of the Milton class I took at a fine institution of higher learning where the prof compared Paradise Lost to Madonna's Like a Virgin. That's postmodern deconstruction for you.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:51:59 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Using Gizoogle.com, the Gangsta version:

Romeo:
But sizzoft! wizzle light through yonda window breaks?
It is tha east, n Juliet is tha sun.
Arise, fair sun, n kizzle tha envious moon,
Who is already sick n pale wit grief...

Juliet:
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art tizzy Romeo?
Deny thy fatha n refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but swizzorn mah love,
And I'll no playa be a Capulet...

Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:51:58 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Yet another example of Britain's sad demise. Is there no refuge for the Bard, even in his homeland?

Here in the former colonies, we would never consider altering Will's words. Of course, we have been inspired to adapt them to modern circumstances. To wit, MacHomer: The Simpsons Do Macbeth (http://www.machomer.com)

"Is this a dagger I see before me or a pizza? Mmmmmm ... pizza."
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 3:51:55 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Paradise Lost and Like a Virgin... I can see that. They're both composed of words. Though I think Maggie's Farm would be the closer modern parallel.
sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:51:53 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey You're probably right about Maggie's Farm. Looking back, the prof might have compared Like a Virgin to Paradise Regained. In 1990, when I took the class, there was an unfortunate trend in English Lit. criticism of interpreting great works of literature using pop culture references. At the time, Madonna's heavy use of religious symbolism made her the obvious candidate for Milton's work.
PO 12/5/2012 | 3:51:53 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Old and boring:
JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn in my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

ROMEO: Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

Improved (from the article):
ROMEO: What's on your mind?
JULIET: Oh, just moons and spoons in June.
ROMEO: Cool - let's get hitched then.

More Improved:
ROMEO: WU?
JULIET: Y R U R-dog?
ROMEO: NBD. U R Gr8!
sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:51:51 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey If Kabbalah endorsed it, I'm sure she'd pop out a few material kids among the beasts of burden.
Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 3:51:51 AM
re: Alas, Poor Homey Bette Midler once remarked that the only thing Madonna would ever do like a virgin is give birth in a stable.
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