Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I saw Anonymous with Lexi; in a very general sense when we think of art--right--we usually identify with the underdog, and even when we're not Marxists or class-conscious-or-whatever, a viewer/reader still identifies with the person facing insurmountable odds, etc. We like Don Draper because he came from nothing and he's smarter than Sterling Cooper. We'd rather be in a frat like Delta Tau Chi than Omega Theta Pi; even the Goldman Sachs employees of the world agree with this when interacting with any art, film in particular. Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, for as nasty as he is, comes from nothing and builds himself into the figure that invests a half-ass amount into cold fusion in Wall Street 2.
Roland Emmerich doesn't get this; Anonymous looks and feels like an intro to lit essay by an Entrepreneurship major. It looks right, the format is all correct, but there's nothing to it, it gets its facts all mixed up, it misses the point. The worst thing about it is that Edward de Vere still isn't as interesting as the Shakespeare character Emmerich presents: a dumb, opportunistic illiterate yes, but a funny one who screws around and knows how to act. I still rather hang out with Will than a gloomy blond rich guy who turns out to have fucked his mother. And I don't like being reminded how brilliant he is by the film and Derek Jacobi, who preforms the prologue and epilogue with the pathos-overload of a Bill O'Rilley.
I understand Emmerich's bravado to piss people off, but at least get your history right--he conflates James I with Charles II, he has Richard III performed the night before the Essex rebellion when it was actually Richard II. And at least get art right: de Vere has to be more interesting than some lord with a private estate who thinks he's better than Ben Johnson. No one wants to side with the privileged over the underdog and no matter how much de Vere glooms around and lies in his deathbed with his "masterpieces," he's still no underdog--he seems as much a phony: you never see him work on a play. He sits at the an ornamental desk with a stuffed eagle and a bunch of papers and sighs at paupers. That's not art. That's propaganda.