Thursday, November 3, 2011

Regarding "Occupy Anonymous"

I've got nothing against movies about Shakespeare. I've also got nothing against Roland Emmerich movies; I loved Independence Day; thought 2012 was ridiculous fun; though Day After Tomorrow was just ridiculous, but still.

Yet I launched a little tongue-in-cheek Event on Facebook called "Occupy 'Anonymous,' to spread the word to impressionable movie-goers that contrary to the beliefs of the creators of Emmerich's new "Anonymous," the works of Shakespeare were, in fact, written by Shakespeare. Having spent a good portion of my life researching the Bard (for one hit play, one self-help book ("What Would Shakespeare Do?") and my novel MY NAME IS WILL - A NOVEL OF SEX, DRUGS, AND SHAKESPEARE, I reckon I know as much about the documentary evidence of Shakespeare's life as most amateur scholars. I've also, out of due diligence, read the most influential Oxfordian theory volumes: Ogburn's SHAKESPEARE IDENTIFIED and Anderson's THE MAN WHO WAS SHAKESPEARE. While there's some interesting and almost-convincing evidence - strictly circumstantial, mind you -- in both of these works, mostly about places Oxford visited that appear in Shakespeare's plays, they fall apart under the weight of the conspiracy theory that had would have to have been maintained to keep Oxford's authorship of the Works secret for decades past his lifetime. They also don't bother to answer questions like, "Well, mightn't Shakespeare have visited those places, too?" It should come as no surprise that there are precious few Shakespeare scholars who think anyone but Shakespeare wrote the Works.

And the worst argument for Oxford is, IMHO, his own poetry. Reasonable minds my disagree regarding the quality of the verse, but to my ear his poems are both unexceptional and unlike Shakespeare.

Anyway, my little open letter, a mashup of Occupy Wall Street and the Authorship "Debate," is approaching 1000 likes and 750 shares on Facebook, so I think I've done my bit for spreading some evidence.

By all means see Anonymous if you wish. It's a beautiful re-creation of Elizabethan London. The set decoration of Oxford's office is worth the price of admission. The confusing story and unmemorable dialogue are not as good as, say, most episodes of The Tudors, but there are some fine performances (notably Vanessa Redgrave's) and it has a worthy message about the power of the pen.

Just don't believe its main premise, that Oxford wrote Shakespeare. It simply ain't true. If you really want to dive into the whys and wherefores, the Shakespeare Authorship site's How We Know Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare has the best compendium of answers for you.

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