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Anonymous - A Lesson for Hollywood Fame Junkies

By David Cabot

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The Sony Screening of Anonymous at The Crystal Quill Awards


A very important film entitled “Anonymous” has arrived in the Land and, although it suffers certain flaws in construction, it is very much worth a look.   

Contrived as a costume entertainment piece about Shakespeare,  nevertheless, “Anonymous” carries a profound social message that Hollywood denizens need to learn, sooner than later, if they ever hope to transcend the sick obsession with the “Cult of Celebrity” that dominates the entertainment media today.   In stating that  important message, please allow me to take liberties with a Shakespeare line from “HAMLET,” as follows:

The Words Are The Thing!

In effect, the words in creative projects are what should matter most, NOT the personalities of the people involved.  If only Hollywood would come to embrace that concept, we actually might see a renaissance in the Arts, one that embraces quality in writing rather than a societal  fetish for cheesecake airhead celebrities.

Without giving away too much plot, suffice it to say that the central theme of “Anonymous” revolves around the concept that William Shakespeare was merely a front man for the real author of his written works.....Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.


The Sony Screening of Anonymous at The Crystal Quill Awards


Yet, the Earl could care less that he toiled in anonymity since he firmly believed the ideas behind his plays were what mattered most...and what was most imperative is that the public hear those words.     In other words, the Earl of Oxford happened to be the JD Salinger of his day.....he believed people should pay attention to the work, and he had no need for any “Cult of Celebrity” to be erected around him.  By the end of the film, in its most powerful scene, it was sufficient for the Earl to receive the approval of only one man....Ben Johnson, a fellow playwright who acted as intermediary in transferring the Earl’s  writings to William Shakespeare....and when Johnson tells Shakespeare, “I find your words to be the most wondrous ever heard on our stage....on any stage...ever,” that was sufficient acclaim for the Earl to find satisfaction in his own work.

I had the chance to view this film at a SONY studio screening where, ironically, an award event (The Crystal Quill Awards) had been arranged by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles to hand out acclaim to those key players involved in creating the film.  I say, “ironically,” because in a film that extols the creativity of an anonymous writer, you would think that its organizers would “get it,”  and avoid anything that smacks of Cult of Celebrity tactics.   


The Sony Screening of Anonymous at The Crystal Quill Awards

In other words,  it seems an award event happened to be highly inappropriate for this kind of film.

That said, the  Shakespeare Center, whose programs and events are designed to make Shakespeare accessible to the public, deserves special praise for developing  “Veterans in Art.”   Designed as a therapeutic  program aimed toward returning military vets, it strives to reintegrate former soldiers into the mainstream of the community and workforce.  In that regard, the Shakespeare Center prioritizes the needs of those neglected heroes in our society who merit a spotlight today, in lieu of this strange obsession over musicians, actors, ball players,
billionaires, and those who achieve fame simply for being famous.

Suffice it to say that the Golden Quill awards were handed out to the following individuals who, in keeping with the spirit of  the film,  should appreciate my striving to keep them as “Anonymous” as possible:

  1. A German director who is known mostly for big budget action films.   However, he decided he would spend more than a decade developing “Anonymous” as an act of passion.   In doing so, he created some amazingly powerful scenes, although the overall film lacks coherence since it is executed in flashback style (rather than linear narrative) so, at times,  it suffers a lack of intelligibility, maybe not for Shakespeare buffs, but certainly with regard to a mass audience.
  2. A high powered entertainment attorney whose chief renown stems from representing a celebrity singer accused of child molestation....and, only in America, does a person achieve such immense fame on account of wading through such sleazy waters.  However, this particular entertainment attorney also wrote an articulate, incisive, and scholarly book, “Players: the Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare” (2005), an investigation into the authorship of Shakespeare’s various works.  Why do we have such a dysfunctional Big Media  machine that would rather dwell upon the slimy aspects of his career rather than his more meritorious achievements?  Very sad indeed.
  3. A Professor Emerita of English from Pomona College with a stellar international reputation for Shakespeare scholarship, publications, and teaching.  Oh, alright....I really have to reveal her name (Martha Andresen) because, in our capitalist society, generally professors and teachers make such relatively paltry sums that they very rarely merit attention from the Fame Brainwash Machine dedicated toward ascribing importance  only to those who earn  the big bucks.


The Sony Screening of Anonymous at The Crystal Quill Awards


Finally, no article about a major Hollywood event would be complete without a least one quote from a big “star.”    And yes, there was an older gentleman attending the function, a famous actor most renowned for his former womanizing ways, not to mention a lead role in  a film in which he and his gangster girlfriend are ambushed in one of the most bloody gruesome scenes  ever seen in cinema.  Unfortunately, when asked how he felt about the film, in particular, his thoughts about the many Shakespeare-trained actors in Hollywood who increasingly cannot find any meaty roles in which to display their thespian skills...who have been consigned to seek work as bimbos and himbos in a plethora of  brain-dead Reality TV shows.... the big “star” stated he does not give interviews and dismissively walked away.  

That’s OK, he need not worry because I chose to keep him ......“Anonymous.”

Published on Oct 08, 2011

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