Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why, shall we turn to men?

Oh my god. Is the Nile flowing backwards? Did Fugazi sign to Arista? Something is seriously altered and effed up somewhere in the unvierse today because I saw the Michael Radford "Merchant of Venice" and couldn't find the queer subtext. Every critic this side of Camille Paglia swooned that it had homoeroticism spilling out of every last extra's doublet and lute arpeggio on the soundtrack, and all I got was Jeremy Irons looking alternately resigned and wistful. Philip French promised me Irons as "a sad, rheumy-eyed old queen," for fuck's sake, but he just wasn't. Some subtle early sparks, and that promising bedroom snog, and then nothing. And this is coming from me, remember, a person who can find the queer subtext in an empty bag of Doritos. It sucks 'cause there's just so much there to draw on; even played traditionally, Antonio and all of "Merchant" are gay as yr uncle. I mean, check the first seven lines:

ANT. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
That I have much ado to know myself.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Cf. like whoa The Picture of Dorian Gray, Chapter 2:

To realise one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self...The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.

And I'm not even going to get into the Jewishness-as-queerness reading, which totally works, or the Portia-Nerissa relationship, or the fact that this play has more mysteriously motivated cross-dressing than a college football team kegger. I guess I'ma just have to see Callas Forever instead.

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