If you stole my laptop right now and examined the hard drive, you would see my secret shame. You would see dozens of films I downloaded off the internet for my personal enjoyment. A lot of people are embarrassed about the secret things they keep on their hard drive. The difference is that for me all of those films are about William Shakespeare*.
Alright, before you send me feedback screaming, “He’s dead. He’s a playwright. He’s dead. We don’t even know if he was hot. He doesn’t even have abdominal muscles because he’s dead,” listen up: William Shakespeare is one of the sexiest men who has ever lived.
First of all, smarts are sexier than looks.
If a man has a perfectly sculpted body, eyes the color of the tropical sea at twilight and a crooked smile that can unhinge your nerves, he can still be a boring idiot.
There’s nothing more repulsive to me than willful ignorance. There are these places called libraries where you can get lost in labyrinths built by bookshelves and battle minotaurs born from someone else’s imagination. You can travel the cosmos in works of science fiction and learn how the universe was created by studying theories and equations. You can learn about jungles and deserts, kings and kangaroos. You can even uncover truths about yourself if you’re reading a certain way. My point is I love smart people. Specifically, I love smart people who love words and ideas. William Shakespeare is kind of the grand poo bah of words and ideas, so I kind of love William Shakespeare a lot.
I mean, sure, there are conspiracy theories that Shakespeare’s plays were written by other people, but I don’t believe those tawdry theories. I prefer to stick to tradition and take the story that Shakespeare was a middle class actor from Stratford because, quite frankly, the timeline fits the best for that story, and it makes my crush that much bigger to think he was just an actor to start. I think we’ve mentioned this so many times before, but I do have a British actor thing. Shakespeare was a sexy genius and a sexy British actor. I don’t need to know for sure what he looked like. Just knowing those two things about him makes me his biggest fangirl. (Plus, I can just pretend in my head that he really did look like Joseph Fiennes. This is fun. Try it.)
Sure, Christopher Marlowe was an actor, writer and spy, but Dr. Faustus doesn’t do it for me the same way A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It or The Tempest or even Titus Andronicus does. The thing that sets Shakespeare apart from his contemporaries is that he gave thought and emotion to all of his characters, not just the leads. I’ve been in productions of Marlowe plays and Shakespeare plays. Only Shakespeare gives great lines to the bit players. He values everyone’s voice. He even values women more than most writers of his day–and our day.
Right now, as part of the crazy British Cultural Olympiad thing that’s happening in London in tandem with the Olympics**, the BBC is producing brand-spanking new productions of Shakespeare’s “Hollow Crown” plays (Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II, and Henry V). If you have a chance to watch these, please do, because it makes my boy, the Bard, look really good.
In just these specific productions alone, Shakespeare gives us the sexiness of Tom Hiddleston wearing leather and speaking beautiful words, Ben Whishaw hanging out with a monkey and speaking beautiful words, Michelle Dockery lounging in gorgeous medieval gowns and speaking beautiful words, Patrick Stewart wearing a turban hat thing and speaking beautiful words, Clemence Poesy looking sad in a garden and speaking beautiful words, and Joe Armstrong owning the name “Hotspur” as though spurs had never been so hot before and speaking beautiful words.
Did I mention Tom Hiddeston’s pants were leather and he laughs a lot and gets drunk and has a sword fight and gets slapped by Jeremy Irons and that he’s speaking beautiful words?
Now, sure, Shakespeare didn’t direct or cast these productions. He just supplied the beautiful words.Those words are important. Those words are more than beautiful, they have power to build worlds and breathe life. They’ve defined modern culture. Whether you know it or not, there are so many characters, stories, and idioms that we use and reference in our day-to-day lives that could not exist without Shakespeare. Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t even have our pop culture. Imagine if just Romeo & Juliet had never been written? We wouldn’t have West Side Story, Taylor Swift couldn’t have written “Love Story” and Posh and Beck’s second child would have an incredibly different name.
So, yeah, I’m seriously crushing on William Shakespeare this week. I’m in love with a dead Elizabethan poet and I don’t care who knows it.
*Okay. There are also a bunch of Saturday Night Live behind-the-scenes documentaries and the second series of Sherlock. I’m gross and seedy like that.
**Are “Cultural Olympiads” a thing? Like are nations supposed to go crazy on promoting their culture while hosting the Olympics? Because the only things I remember the United States of America promoting during the Salt Lake City and Atlanta games were McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and the Home Depot. Which, to be fair, is a valid representation of our national culture.