Whatever man, King Lear is a bullshit play and seeing even good productions of it makes me think that maybe Shakespeare was a hack/want to tweet some incendiary shit about how Shakespeare is the worst, and I’ve been creepily referring to Willy Shakes as my ‘husband’ since I was a teenager (yes, I was that weird of a kid in high school). So. I get it, Ira Glass.
Because like, here’s the thing. Lear makes me feel like… Oh my god, why the fuck did you just make that totally bad decision, and how do you not know your stupid children better because you raised them, and even if you didn’t, you’re a freaking king, how have you not learned more about humanity by now, so fuck you for being stupid and also why have I been in this theater for six thousand hours and seriously you brought this shit on yourself, so I have no sympathy for you, and OH MY GOD WHY ARE WE STILL SITTING IN THIS THEATER I THINK I AM GOING TO DIE HERE.
To put that more intelligently: Lear is the play where I feel as if Shakespeare’s hand is intrusive. Where you can feel him, as the writer, pulling strings in such a way that it makes the characters feel inauthentic. Not just vapid assholes (because hey, most of them ARE vapid assholes, and I get it, that’s the point) but like… behaving as fronts for the Ideas and Machinations of a playwright with Something To Say, and not like real human beings.
And I get it. Lear isn’t really for or about me, so that’s probably part of my relationship to the material. But like. If this play is about an Aging Wealthy White Man Grappling With Losing His Mind and Maybe His Legacy… then basically isn’t it like, perfect for Ira Glass? Like. Isn’t Ira Glass a Future Aging White Man Worried About Losing His Mind and How to Preserve His Legacy? And if Ira can’t really get there, then maybe isn’t it possible that there are some problems here with the material?
Because honestly, even just thinking about seeing Lear again makes me tired. I get annoyed when good people are cast in it because then I feel like I have to see it even though I know it’s going to make me miserable. Make me forget that Shakespeare is not only one of the most important writers in the history of the English language, but one of my personal favorites, whose work continues to enlighten me as I grow older, whose work continues to show new layers and colors as my life grows and changes and reveals them to me.
So like. I’m sorry you had a kind of shitty night of Shakespeare, Ira. Shitty enough that it made you start to wonder if all of Shakespeare doesn’t kind of suck the same way. I’m sure you didn’t mean to piss off the entire Shakespeare-loving world. I just wanted to say like… I Stand With You. Because Lear is bullshit and that’s an okay way to feel. Even if everyone else says it’s bad.