Sunday, September 21, 2014

Other Hamlets: Dirtbag Hamlet

You may or may not find "Dirtbag Hamlet" amusing (the complete story HERE, text Mallory Ortberg, pictures Matt Lubchansky), a take on Hamlet that casts him as a modern teenage dirtbag. As satire of either Shakespeare or modern youth, it's pretty blunt, but does it highlight interesting truths about the play itself?

What works, I think, is the simplification of the character to the point where he is just an irreverent, jaded youth. He doesn't avenge his father's death because he rejects all authority, even the truth's. This Hamlet will not be ruled by anything. In fact, he rejects: The King's authority, the notion Hamlet Sr. was his father, his relationship to Ophelia, and the dignity of his own death. Nothing is sacred. And to the real, scripted Hamlet, this is sometimes true, so the take is legitimate. For example, the strip distills Hamlet's relationship to his mother thus:

GERTRUDE walks down the hallway. Enter HAMLET, skateboarding.
(HAMLET skates backwards) UUUUUUTT

Take away Hamlet's banquet of words, and you weaken the play and the character considerably - that's not in dispute - but you do get at the essence of the character. Or at least, a certain take on the character.

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