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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Shakespeare and Big Brother
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0583  Friday, 7 September 2007

[1] 	From: 		Susanne Greenhalgh <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 15:13:03 +0100
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[2] 	From: 		David Kathman <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Sep 2007 09:35:45 -0500
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[3] 	From: 		Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Sep 2007 12:14:59 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[4] 	From: 		Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 13:30:37 -0500
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[5] 	From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 06 Sep 2007 02:51:58 +0000
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[6] 	From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 06 Sep 2007 18:17:26 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Susanne Greenhalgh <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 15:13:03 +0100
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

Intriguingly (especially in the light of recent crises in the UK media 
about 'fakery' in documentaries and quiz call-ins and competitions) 
several blogs and websites are suggesting that the Big Brother winner 
Brian Belo actually faked his ignorance of Shakespeare, having taken 
English to GCSE level (and therefore encountered a National Curriculum 
in which Shakespeare is a compulsory feature)  or, according to some, 
having been at drama school - of course attendance doesn't guarantee 
knowledge. Looked at closely, his answer does in my view support this 
possibility, however. Despite claiming not to know who 'this geezer' 
Shakespeare was, his choice of 'Babe' over 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'The 
Taming of the Shrew' as NOT a play by Shakespeare was of course correct, 
and his description of the film as one in which the characters speak 
'normal' (the implication being that they don't in the others) seems 
calculated to play to the popular view that equates Shakespeare with 
obscure language.

Susanne Greenhalgh,
Digby Stuart College,
Roehampton University,

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Kathman <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Sep 2007 09:35:45 -0500
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

Margaret Hargrave wrote:

 >You are indeed fortunate if, in the United States, you do
 >not have the _Big Brother_ program. This surprises me.
 >We in Australia have it--so I suppose that, if it didn't start
 >on the other side of the Pacific, it must have started in the
 >UK!  From all accounts, it is crass.

We do have "Big Brother" in the United States, each summer since 2000 on 
CBS.  In fact, "Big Brother 8" is currently finishing up its run -- you 
can see the show's web site here:

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/bigbrother8/

It's not nearly as popular as the UK or Australia versions, both of 
which I've seen when I was in those countries, but it has enough of a 
following that CBS keeps bringing it back every year.  The biggest 
difference between the U.S. version and the UK/Australia versions is 
that contestants are voted out by the other contestants in the house, 
rather than by the public, subject to a somewhat complicated set of 
rules involving a "head of household" and a "power of veto."  Also, the 
show originated not in the U.K., but in the Netherlands, and a Dutch 
production company, Endemol, produces all of the many versions aired in 
various countries.

Dave Kathman

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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Sep 2007 12:14:59 -0400
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

 >A retired secondary school English teacher based in
 >Sydney, I have had conversations with colleagues
 >who truly believe we are entering a new Dark Age,
 >in which there is shallow, if any, knowledge of history,
 >philosophy and the truly great works in music and
 >literature. I concur. What sort of age is it when Bob
 >Dylan is described as the world's greatest-ever
 >songwriter, and few have heard of Franz Schubert
 >or have listened to Richard Strauss's _Four Last
 >Songs_?

There is much to deplore in "popular culture," but I am not so 
pessimistic.  Popular culture is, by definition, "popular," that is 
favored by the masses, who for the most part are capable of nothing but 
physicality and noise and who (more importantly) do not have the 
influence to pass on their ephemeral tastes to the next generation. 
There is a long-term trend toward the ultimate rejection of most trendy 
"popular" entertainment and the retention of great works.  Consider 
music:  Hip Hop has supplanted hard rock, which supplanted Doo Wop, 
which supplanted jazz, which supplanted (I suppose) barbershop quartet 
singing.  Each generation in turn deplored the degradation of the genre 
and predicted the imminent dissolution of the social fabric itself.  But 
the Metropolitan Opera House still sells out its c.2000 seats nearly 
every night at prices that range upwards of $300, and there are new 
talented classical singers constantly coming on the scene.  Where are 
the new Doo Wop singers, and can they fill an auditorium one-half the 
size at prices one-tenth the cost? And can they do it night after night?

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 13:30:37 -0500
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

No sooner had I questioned the meaning of the term "Big Brother" as used 
by Sam Small, than I saw a TV listing for "Big Brother 8." I didn't 
watch it. I spent the hour grading quizzes and occasionally glancing at 
a dull baseball game. Such a miserable scholar of pop culture am I.

I still don't know if we're talking about the same thing.

As to Goebbels as romantic scholar. There seems to be a problem with the 
difference between studying and learning. Studying a subject does not 
mean that you have come to an understanding of it, and thus to a better 
understanding of yourself and other human beings -- the point, I would 
say, of liberal or humanistic education.

Without drifting into arguments about popular music, the offhand remark 
about Bob Dylan illustrates a key aspect of my problem. What on earth 
does the term "greatest songwriter" mean? I realize the imprecision (to 
the point of total meaninglessness ) belongs to the anonymous person 
being cited critically, but we tend to perpetuate the problem by citing 
such remarks.

Cheers,
don

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date: 		Thursday, 06 Sep 2007 02:51:58 +0000
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

RE: Margaret Hargrave's post:  AMEN!

Nicole Coonradt

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Thursday, 06 Sep 2007 18:17:26 -0400
Subject: 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0580 Shakespeare and Big Brother

Margaret Hargrave <
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 >You are indeed fortunate if, in the United States, you do
 >not have the _Big Brother_ program.

There was an attempt, some years ago, but it was a dismal failure, 
probably because US networks are not allowed to show naughty bits or 
have bad language. As a result, it didn't even appeal to viewers with 
bad taste. (Remember, even bad taste is some kind of taste.)

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