Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Literary Prejudice.

Dear Globlets,

Last week, I went to see Twelfth Night with Mt. It was set in the 1970s, which goes to prove that another of Shakespeare's plays is timeless. You can put the same story in another era and it still works. Ever see She's the Man? It's a 21st century rendition of the play.

There were several shows one could go and see, so my Intro. to Lit. course peers scattered for different dates. A couple of days before I saw the play, I overheard some girls talking about it while we waited for class to begin.
"How was the play?"
"Meh. Long. Didn't get out 'til like 11:30"
"Really?"
"And it was set in the 60s."
Another classmate corrected her.
"70s, yeah. It was pretty bad."
"Ugh! That sucks. Oh man..."
Groans of displeasure ensued.

I heard a few more bits of conversations like this. Many of my peers made it sound like it was such a drag, that it was so lame. Maybe I'm weird or much easier to please, but I thought they did a great job with the play. The dialogue was the same as the original text with a few tweaks and the occasional, "Bummer, dude," but not so much as to make it cheesy. Perhaps it's because I go to plays with an open mind. I understand what the director tries to get at, I understand that it takes a lot for a person to go on stage and perform. When I hear people putting it down like it was beneath them, like they're too cool for it, I find it's disrespectful to those who are a part of a production like this. It's like they don't consider the fact that the people who collaborate to make plays are people and that they work hard to achieve whatever it is they wish to achieve, and that they deserve our respect.

It was funny. It wasn't a dull play at all. I thought the 70s theme brought something new and fresh and interesting to a play most people have read. Who doesn't love the Beatles? (Shut up Beatle-haters!) I'm not saying I think everyone should love it; people have different tastes from my own, but I am asking to show a little more respect towards those who present this kind of entertainment. They don't do it for the lulz. They don't wake up in the morning one day knowing exactly what to do, how to do it, what to say, or how to say it. But my classmates are too cool to care.

This got me thinking... is there a stigma against things assigned in the classroom? So far, there hasn't been a single book, apart from Bridge to Terabithia (Grade 5), that I have not enjoyed that was assigned for a class. Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, Macbeth, and Of Mice and Men, to name a few. But when I suggested to my brother that he read To Kill a Mockingbird because of how excellent a book it is, he knew he would have to read it for school and refused to read it.
"I just don't want to. I know I'm not going to like it."

It's literature. It's being assigned for a reason. We went to see Twelfth Night for a reason. I'm curious as to why some people said they hated it.

Perhaps I'm guilty of literary prejudice as well. We had the option of reading Oedipus, an ancient Greek play, or Joan MacLeod's The Shape of a Girl. Initially, I thought the latter was going to be about weight and self-esteem issues in girls, and being a girl who has already experienced plenty of these issues, the last thing I wanted to do was read about it. Oedipus likely presented a story that would have nothing to do with my childhood or personal life, but a class vote made The Shape of a Girl the play to read. Damn democracy.

I wondered if it was because a large percentage of the class is made up of women, and they wanted to read about something familiar. Familiar. I wanted to read about something unfamiliar. I was curious about the kind of stories ancient Greeks might have told. I don't know much about those stories, and I doubt very much that many others do.

The Shape of a Girl is a good play, nevertheless. It's excellent for those who have not experienced this type of young female cruelty - adults and boys, primarily; it was not about weight or self-esteem. It brought attention to something that few people, if anybody but the participants, knows about. I remember young female cruelty quite well from elementary school, though nothing quite as extreme as what was depicted in the play. However, Braidie, the main character, does mention that she "knows the way in" to an even more extreme version of her group's cruelty, to something resembling the Reena Virk Story. I could relate to the character, but I would not have been an inactive bystander. Even when I was a kid, I would have flipped my shit and gone to an adult for help if I didn't stop whatever violence was occurring in front of me. I guess my Atheistic moral compass pointed North stronger even then.

The story was hard to swallow, even though I am aware that this kind of behaviour is common among young people. Being hard to swallow was the point, though, of course. Still, it's annoying that we couldn't have learned about something most of the women in that class are not already familiar with. I'll read Oedipus for myself, but I thought my hypothesis as to why the decision to read the other play was worth thinking about. It poses another question...

Why do people so eagerly gravitate towards the familiar? "I'm a girl, not a Greek, therefore I should show no curiosity to a world that is far different from my own." Do people have no sense of curiosity?

I'll read Oedipus and make sure that I'm fighting for a play that's actually worth reading.

1 comment:

Mommet said...

There is definitely a lack of curiosity in your generation but, sadly, I don't think it's limited to it. I wonder if it's a North American phenomenon or something more widespread. I do think that Chileans tend to be of the non-curious type but I blame that on a serious lack of access to books.