The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2175  Friday, 14 September 2001

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Sep 2001 08:31:29 -0700
Subject: 12.2160 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2160 Re: Times Article

In sooth, I know exactly why I am so sad.

How do some of you manage to write with such passion when I, and
everyone I know, am depressed?  I do not want to get involved in this
debate, I do not want to get involved in this debate, I do not want to
get involved in this debate.

I'm getting involved in this debate.

In 1940, Milton Caniff's comic strip *Terry and the Pirates* had a
sequence where *MoV* became an important plot point.  To keep it simple,
an arms supplier liked to add English speaking women to his harem.  The
dealer who bought from him was holding hero Pat Ryan and teenaged April
Kane under house arrest, planning to give April to his supplier.  Pat
discovered that the dealers daughter was quite a reader, and had
memorized Portia's lines in *Merchant.*  He talked her into giving a
recital to amuse the supplier, then made the case that since she knew
Shakespeare, the best writer in English, she would make a better wife.
To get revenge on Pat, the daughter said she would be less like Portia
and more like Lady Macbeth.  The quality of mercy was now lost to her.

The Shakespearean references kept on for most of a month, with several
lines quoted before and during the recital.

I suggest that this interesting appropriation of Shakespeare is worth
knowing about, and commenting on.  It tells us about Caniff, the culture
on the comic strip in 1940, appropriation of Shakespeare for use in
popular culture, and has an interesting contrast of Shakespearean

I have not seen *A Midsummer Night's Cream,* or any other X-rated
Shakespearian offshoots, but I don't see a difference in kind, only in
use.  Aside from the fact that one is pornographic, and the other was in
family newspapers, as Shakespearean appropriations they seem to have
more commonalities than differences.  If *Terry* is worth knowing about,
then *Cream* must be.

I'm not suggesting Professor Egan is wrong for being concerned about the
mental and physical health of workers in the adult industry.  Nor is it
unreasonable to feel uncomfortable with Richard's apparent relish of
X-rated material.  I like Richard, and it makes me uncomfortable. But
that is his choice, and I'm quite sure my approval or disapproval
reveals far more about me than it does about him.  Despite these things,
the tenor of recent posts has been in the direction of tossing the baby
with the bath.  Let's not do that.  The mere fact that the material is
pornographic does not mean it is by definition less noteworthy than a
comic strip, just more offensive to many.  I don't want to study it, but
I'm glad someone reports that it exists.

Mike Jensen

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