The problem statement for this study is to explain the concept of fetishization; determine how this is applied to Shakespeare’s work; outline specific cases of fetishized pieces and explore the positive and negative dimensions to the issue…
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The paper tells that as early as the 1500s, the concept of “abuse” of the theater has already been duly noted. There are critics who pointed to the way plays are modified to accommodate prevailing tastes and the excessive emphasis on profit, which violates many literary masterpieces. For example, John Northbrooke in 1577 declared in his work, Treason: “As farre as good exercises and honest pastimes & plays doe benefit the health of manne, and recreate his wittes, so farre I speake not against it, but the excessive and unmeasurable use thereof, taketh away the right institution thereof, and bringeth abuse and misuse… and therefore they are rather changed into faults and transgressions, than honest exercises for mans recreation.” Numerous other personalities in later years would echo the above sentiments including commentaries by Stephen Gosson, Thomas Heywood and John Taylor. All of their arguments highlighted how works like those of Shakespeare can be used as a commodity of free enterprise, used and tailored in order to suit what the audience wants. This circumstance is particularly prominent in the contemporary times when pop culture and extreme commercialism dominate the cultural market. The dominance of Hollywood best depicts this phenomenon. Movies and other literary adaptations of Shakespearean drama abound and they are produced within a consumer economy that sometimes dilutes, degrades and abuse Shakespeare’s masterpieces, undermining its aesthetic purity in favor of financial gain. An important element in the way Shakesperean works are interpreted today in movie and literary adaptations is fetishization. This is analogous to “idolatry”, which the cultural producers encourage in order to sell their movie stars and their films to the masses. Adaptations are no longer about stories because they involve a combination of variables and brands that typify a product that needs to be marketed in specific market populations. Research Objectives The objective of this paper is to describe the fetishization of William Shakespeare’s work. In order to achieve this goal, the following secondary objectives will be pursued: Explain the concept of fetishization; Determine how this is applied to Shakespeare’s work; Outline specific cases of fetishized pieces; Explore the positive and negative dimensions to the issue. II. LITERATURE REVIEW Unarguably, the scholarly work on William Shakespeare is quite extensive. The academic interest is quite diverse and the sheer expanse of the body of literature is helpful in pursuing the objectives of this research. In the context of the area by which this paper is interested in, there are several works that proved significant. Hawkes’(1999) descriptive study of the criticisms on the abuse of plays for business or profit purposes include a comprehensive documentation that start in the 1500s to the present. This work is particularly important because it demonstrated the development by which plays like those of Shakespeare’s are modified. The motivations are varied for the so-called “abuses” but they persistently highlight the commercial argument by which cultural producers have invoked throughout the years. This work highlighted the commonalities in the manner by which theater owners rationalize their “abuse” to original plays and the manner by which movie studios adapt them for their films. A more specific study, which contextualized the issue by specifically citing cases, is that by Frederick Aldama (2006), which chronicled the experiences of England’s Royal Shakespeare Company to cinematic adaptations. His work also touched on the manner by which adaptations are interpreted and criticized. This dimension is important for this research because it provided several important information on how a Shakespearean narrative is fetishized. An important work that directly linked commodity fetishism with Shakespeare is that by Marjorie Garber. She explored how Shakespeare has been fetishized in Western popular culture. She found that
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