Shakespeare, Rated X (parental guidance advised)
(Before starting with this article, I strongly suggest you check this out first:)
So aside from attesting to Shakespeare’s universal, all-encompassing influence on every medium of human creativity, what else can we get from looking at Shakespearean pornography? (Marry, by “look” I mean to study, not necessarily to “view” them, ‘slid!)
“Ebony and ivory, live together in perfect harmony…”
Let us momentarily set aside our strict sense of propriety (and I’m sure this wouldn’t be the first time for all of us) to once again remind ourselves of the elements in Shakespeare’s plays that could have made Shakespearean porn possible.
For starters, one cannot deny Shakespeare’s uncanny ability to make his characters sexually appealing, that is after we’ve learned how to tame the wildness of his early modern English. Personally, I’ve always had a strange crush on Desdemona. The whitest, snow-whitest girl you can think of, falling in love with a Moor? Many scholars have suggested that “size” could have contributed to this attraction — apart, of course, from Othello’s natural charm, and his fantastic adventure stories. Every girl likes a good bed-time story now and then.
There’s also Juliet, and Romeo, arguably the spunkiest teenagers in the whole Western Canon. Can we still ever enjoy a Romeo and Juliet production that winces to admit that the lovers DID “do” it in Act 3, Scene 5? And Antony and Cleopatra must have tired themselves to their respective deaths enjoying each other’s company. The Two Gentlemen of Verona, scholars say, can’t fall in love with their chicks only because they can’t help falling in love with each other. Bromance is brought to a whole Shakespearean level.
The Vienna of “Measure for Measure” may very well be one big Red Light District. Titania of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” keels over for a donkey-headed fool. The gang of Olivia, Viola, Orsino, and Sebastian is a foursome too homoerotically confused for comfort. The Troy of “Troilus and Cressida” is a cesspool of syphilitic bawds and prostitutes. “Titus Andronicus’” Chiron and Demetrius learned the not-so-subtle art of rape and mutilation through the instruction of their very own mother dear. On the other hand, Hamlet found his mother all too “game” for her age, and if Freud should be believed, has the whole Oedipus thing going. And Shakespeare’s sonnets, which we now celebrate as the quintessence of romantic love, in actuality’s all about the persona’s adulterous, unquenchable lust for a young man and a dark lady. (Believe you me; these are just a few of the “green” things in Shakespeare’s works.)
This Hamlet’s really got “sullied flesh”
All in all, it’d be foolish to NOT see how natural it is for pornography to be one of the many media Shakespeare’s genius will end up influencing. These porno flicks may have oversimplified Shakespeare’s plot for their audience’s immediate satisfaction, but one must admit that turning Shakespeare plays into an excuse for Rated X content still requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. In fact, I daresay, kudos to these producers who wish to not only entertain, but educate in their craft! Sophisticated and sexy, indeed!