Sunday, July 8, 2012

Leap of Logic: Romeo and Juliet Updated

That's right.  Putting a new, flashy cover on the book will mean more teenagers will read it.

No kidding.  Adding nifty-neato-graphics hasn't worked for any math book written in the last century, but maybe Shakespeare is different? Understand that I'm all for kids reading Shakespeare ... and I've often said that if parents really knew the crudity, sex and violence in  his plays, kids would never be allowed to read them. I'm just not sure that the problem is the cover. Anyway ...

ABC News breathlessly tells us that: Sexy Covers Lure “Twilight” Teens to Capital-L Literature

"Yes, that is the Bard’s bad boy on the cover of the new Penguin edition of the classic Shakespeare tragedy."
"No frills or lace. Instead, Romeo sports a white tank top and a three-day stubble. He still talks funny, but publishers hope the catchier cover will at least get young people to give the Elizabethan prose a try. Shakespeare owes a debt to the “Hunger Games” trilogy, the “Twilight” series and Harry Potter. The runaway success of those series taught publishers that young people weaned on videos are not afraid to pick up old-fashioned books, some of which can go pound for pound with “Moby Dick” or “War and Peace.”

Shakespeare owes a debt?  Romeo and Juliet is somehow an analogous book for Harry Potter fans? A kid reads Hunger Games and just naturally picks up "War and Peace"? The "funny language" issues aren't going to get in the way either.

Has this idiot ever read Romeo and Juliet?

Not an issue.
Romeo (brash 17 year-old) wants to marry Rosaline but she says no. He falls for 13-year-old Juliet at a party even though he has no idea who she is, but he tells her he loves her on sight ... which means she realizes that she loves him right back.

If it stopped there, you might be forgiven for thinking of this as a romance, albeit somewhat creepy because of the whole age thing. (Think a high school senior wanting to marry a freshman.)

Tybalt wants to murder Romeo for coming to the party. Benvolio and Mercutio make vague threats and Romeo arrives but tries to stay out of a fight, so Tybalt kills Mercutio and then Romeo kills Tybalt. It's still a romance, though, because Romeo sleeps with Juliet that night ... because sex with a child the night after you meet her is so romantic.

Romeo has to skip town because of the killing thing, and since Juliet is only momentarily upset by the murder of her cousin, she fakes suicide to get out of an arranged marriage of her own. Romeo thinks the fake is real so he commits suicide and then Juliet commits suicide when she finds him lying there.

How heart-warming.  "And the fathers lived happily ever after in harmony."

Puts me in mind of this eCard which has been going around recently:

1 comment:

  1. I always thought Romeo was kind of petulant and indecisive - and not particularly likeable as a result!