In a recent study, 71% of people aged 25-44 knew the quote “If only you knew the power of the dark side” came from Darth Vader, but only 10% knew that the Shakespeare quote “Now is the winter of our discontent” came from Richard III. I wish I could say I was surprised, but alas, I cannot. I think I’m allowed to ask this, as someone with two (useless) English degrees: is it really so wrong that people are more familiar with current cultural icons than with those that are considered to be classic and high brow? I’ve read everything Shakespeare ever wrote (or, rather, Edward deVere wrote, if you’re on that side of the “who really wrote it” debate), and honestly, a lot of it didn’t stick with me, especially the history plays. But, after seeing the first three Star Wars movies (episodes 4-6) 50+ times each, those well-crafted script lines have stuck. Come on, who doesn’t remember “Luke, I am your father” followed by the hilarious “Noooooooo!” ? But all that icky quote-unquote Modern English from Shakespeare goes in one ear and out the other. Sad, but true. Now, had I read Richard III or Henry IV 50+ times, perhaps those lines would have stayed in my nonabsorbent mind a little better. But, who wants to read those 50+ times? Oh well. My only hope is that Lucas’s recent travesties of film, AKA Episdoes 1 and 2, do not result with the next generation quoting Jar Jar endlessly… That would truly warrant a Luke-worthy “Noooooooo!”
February 9, 2004
“Vader vs. Shakespeare…..Fight!”
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