Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shakespeare at Large

Tina Fey's brilliant piece in last week's New Yorker, "Confessions of a Juggler," begins with an anecdote about her preschool daughter coming home with this book in her backpack--a book, she notes, that's written by two men and features a working mom who flies around for her job, leaving her kid to figure things out on her own.

Fey goes on to talk about the problems of being a working mother in Hollywood--one who's on the precipice of being labeled a "crazy" woman by Hollywood execs (i.e. a woman who talks a lot but no one wants to screw anymore), but who has the power to make changes IF she doesn't take time out for more kids. Maybe.

I could teach a semester-long course on this book cover alone, but let's just cut to the heart of what makes it the hideously un-nuanced offspring of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and makes Fey's commentary so timeless:

1) Weird Sisters=Bearded women no one wants to sleep with who talk way too much (even though Macbeth comes back in Act 4 and tells them to talk or else, but no one seems to remember that part).

2) Lady Macbeth= Witchy ambitious Mom extraordinaire. She'd bash her baby's brains out if it meant getting ahead. In fact, she probably already has, according to her critics.

3) "How many children had Lady Macbeth?" (that old chestnut of a question) = One of the worst questions you can ask a woman, according to Fey, after “How old are you?’ and “What do you weigh?” Fey writes: "The worst question is: 'How do you juggle it all?' The second-worst question is: 'Are you going to have more kids?' "

C'mon, everyone. Jump on board. What else do you see? (Personally, I think that witch looks like me when I'm trying to make dinner--except my kids wouldn't be giving me the thumbs up.)

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