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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Similarities (Life and Art)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0579.  Tuesday, 28 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Ann Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Jun 1994 13:58:06 EST5EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0571  Re: Similarities
 
(2)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Jun 1994 14:12:27 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0575 Re: Similarities
 
(3)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Jun 94 19:11:15 CDT
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 5.0575  Re: Similarities
 
(4)     From:   Lonnie J Durham <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Jun 1994 19:06:52 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Life and Art
 
(5)     From:   Norman J. Myers <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jun 94 09:42:29 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0575  Re: Similarities
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Jun 1994 13:58:06 EST5EDT
Subject: 5.0571  Re: Similarities
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0571  Re: Similarities
 
For a while now I have been reading all of this "stuff" concerning supposed
similarities between the O.J. Simpson case and Othello, and I find it just a
bit much. The only similarity that I can see which could have spurred such a
comparison is that Simpson is a Black male who married a fair blond haired
beauty.
 
Numerous White men (with more circumstances in common with Othello than skin
colour) murder their wives each year, and I have yet to hear anyone remark on
how similar their situations might have been to Othello. No one knows the
circumstances of their marriage, relationships with friends, family and so
forth, to be able to make such a judgement of the couple's relationship. And
may I remind you that in your "Great" country, one is "supposedly" innocent
until proven quilty.
 
Ann M. Cox, B.A., M.L.I.S.

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Jun 1994 14:12:27 +0200
Subject: 5.0575 Re: Similarities
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0575 Re: Similarities
 
>There's nothing noble, uplifting, or even extraordinary about men who brutalize
>their lovers/wives. . .  Even the emotional/psychological connundrums involved
>are common as dirt: the outward "nice-guy" persona, the delusional lack of
>self-awareness, are common as dirt: the outward "nice-guy" persona, the
>delusional lack of self-awareness, the inverted--perverted?--sense of grievance
>("I'm the battered husband"), the self-pitying rage, and especially the
>if-I-can't-have-her-no-one-will mentality, (paid any attention lately to the
>phenomenon of "stalking"?--the increasing numbers of men who follow, threaten,
>rape, batter, and/or kill women who leave them).. . Just don't try to tell me
>there is anything noble, heroic, or aesthetically pleasing about it.
 
>Jean Peterson
 
Thank you for saying what desperately needed saying and which I was too gutless
to say.  Anyone who's spent any amount of time with battered women knows
exactly what you're talking about.  Desdemona's "No one. . .I myself"  frankly
gives me the cold chills nowadays.
 
        M. Aaron
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Jun 94 19:11:15 CDT
Subject: 5.0575  Re: Similarities
Comment:        Re:  SHK 5.0575  Re: Similarities
 
I don't know that I would consider myself a member of the "O.J.-as-tragic-
hero-camp", but, at the risk of being a wet blanket and/or seeming to defend a
sleaze like O. J. Simpson, I'd like to respond to Jean Peterson's posting.
 
For the most part, I agree wholeheartedly with what Jean Peterson says. The
phenomenon of spousal abuse is tragically common all over the world
(ovewhelmingly men abusing women, but it does exist the other way around,
though in much smaller numbers) and is something to be deplored and vigorously
fought.  O. J. Simpson is virtually a textbook case of an abuser, for all the
reasons Ms. Peterson noted; I didn't have much of an opinion of him one way or
the other before, but from everything I've seen over the last couple of weeks
he's a sick, violent man, regardless of whether he did in fact kill his
ex-wife, and while the civil libertarian in me wants to see him get a fair
trial, the rest of me is glad to see him behind bars.
 
All that being said, I think Ms. Peterson is being a bit too harsh on the
people (including, briefly, me) who have contributed to this thread. Sure,
comparing O. J. Simpson to Othello is facile and superficial. Whether it's
racist or not is a minefield I don't particularly want to step into; I will say
that I don't think the comparison is *inherently* racist, but there are all
kinds of ways it can become so.  But apart from that, I don't believe that
calling the O. J. Simpson story a tragedy has anything to do with considering
it noble, uplifting, heroic, or aesthetically pleasing.  I know *I* certainly
wouldn't apply any of those adjectives to O. J. Simpson (see above), and I
don't think many of the other posters would either.  Shakespeare's tragic
"heroes" come in all stripes, and many if not most of them are not very
pleasant people (e.g. Macbeth or Richard III).  Othello is more corrupted than
corrupt, so maybe he's not the best comparison to O. J. Simpson despite the
superficial similarities. But the essence of a Shakespearian tragedy is (I know
I'm oversimplifying) a prominent figure, generally powerful and admired by a
lot of people, who plunges from this exalted position into the depths of
despair due to a tragic flaw.  It's tragically and horrifically true that the
way O. J. Simpson treated his wife is not unusual or extraordinary, and that if
he is guilty of killing her, that, unfortunately, is not unusual either.  What
makes this case different is the fact that O. J. Simpson is very famous, a lot
of people admired him before this and some, unaccountably, still do (yes, their
reasons for admiring him are/were superficial, but they admired him all the
same), and now he's sitting alone in a jail cell.  No, of course it's not the
same as Othello, or any Shakespearian tragedy, but the parallels, however
superficial, are there. I do not consider this case noble, heroic, or
aesthetically pleasing in any way; I am in fact sickened by it, just as I am
sickened every time I open my morning paper and read about some psycho who
stalked and killed his ex-wife or -girlfriend.  Different people have different
ways of dealing with and trying to make sense of horrible things;
unfortunately, in a heterogeneous forum like this, someone is likely to take
offense at someone else's coping mechanism.  I hope we can all agree that the
fact that two people are dead for no reason, and two children are without
parents (their mother dead, their father in jail, possibly for a very long
time) is a tragedy --- in the vernacular sense, even if not in the classical
sense.
 
I'm sorry to have gone on so long, but I wanted to get this off my chest. It
wouldn't bother me a bit if this thread died out, and if this message serves to
prolong it, I apologize.
 
Dave Kathman

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie J Durham <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Jun 1994 19:06:52 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Life and Art
 
Just a note to second, as strenuously as possible, Jean Peterson's comments
about violence inflicted upon women in the real world.
 
Please, people, Tragedy is a LITERARY category denoting works that contextually
arrange representations of disastrous human events into conventional patterns
for the purpose of provoking aesthetic responses in an audience.  The Simpson
thing has no more meaning than a pile-up on the highway.
 
On the other hand, the remark that one sometimes gets from students--"I see no
point in reading about another wife-killer", i.e. Othello--is a similar
confusion of categories.
 
Yech! The intellectual ground that has been laid waste in the name of
relevance.
 
Yours as ever,  Lonnie Durham
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman J. Myers <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jun 94 09:42:29 -0400
Subject: 5.0575  Re: Similarities
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0575  Re: Similarities
 
Thank you, Jean Peterson of Bucknell University, for saying all that needs to
be said about the far-fetched OJ/Othello comparison. If OJ, the hero with the
tragic flaw (give me a break), had pleaded no contest to drug abuse rather than
spousal abuse, I'm sure that Hertz, NBC, Hollywood et.al. would have dropped
him in a microsecond. Now can we all move on?
 
Norman Myers
Bowling Green State University
 

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