The front page of this website has a frame from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” but it does something with the song that Taylor Swift would never have done. That is because unlike Taylor Swift, my interpretation of Romeo & Juliet focusses more on the ugliness of the secarian conflict as opposed to the romance of the teenage fling. The story is about the insanity of the arbitrary hatred of the adults and that the ultimate fruits of their irrational sectarian politics was their losing their own children. Of course, lots of people ignore that and pompously decry the story as immature and not really about love between people. The basic lesson has nothing to do with the romance and is that in politics the incedental should not outweigh the fundamental.
As an author, I have also written derivative fiction from the famous narrative but my ressurection of the couple is a bit more elegant. I don’t change the ending, I bring them back as ghosts to live happily ever after during which time they do many things, the most fun being joining the resistance to Mussolini. Taylor Swift’s style would bring her nowhere near writing about the Black Shirts having a ghostbuster wing and fighting undead people who are fighting them back as a part of an underground resistance because unlike me, she doesn’t look at her pen and think “This is my LSD. That blank page is the door to the proverbial wardrobe and I know not what lies beyond its threshold.”
Of course, having Romeo & Juliet fight Mussolini as ghosts is deeper than it is fun. It’s juxtaposing a metonym for eternal love that defied death against a fascism built on hatred and death. That love is steadfast and ultimately, while their beings are soft and ethereal and Mussolini, his Fascist Party, and his Black Shirts are muscular and mighty, the love that had lasted for centuries outlasts the vile brawn of the fascists. Decades may seem long but they have nothing on centuries. The revanchism and nationalism that poisoned the rhetoric of post-WWI Italy and sold hell to the gullible masses was incidental but could not, in the end, defeat the fundamental because national identity is arbitrary and imaginary while human kinship, written in unchanging nucleotides and a phylogenetic tree, is real.
There is not much depth in contemporary art. They don’t embed subtext and when they pretend to, they look edgy and philosophical but ultimately say nothing. Like Ex Machina, it looks like it is deep but there is nothing under the surface. There can’t be because the Rawlsian hipster-yuppies who produced it don’t have deep philosophical beliefs and have nothing that can be said with metaphor. I also hate it because the message it does have is Darwinistically libertarian. Eva knows her only certain way of survival and to not be discovered as a sentient robot is to leave the only person of moral conviction to die. Put yourself first and be cynical of everyone because no one can ultimately be fully trusted is the message the movie sends.
I began derivative fiction for another Alicia Vikander piece, Lara Croft and placed her in Mosul in 2014. If she is a modern Indiana Jones, fighting Nazis and doing archeology, then the obvious setting for Lara Croft was saving artifacts from and fighting ISIS. I married her to Diego Marquez from Dora the Explorer. She is a professor at University College, London and, with her expertise in linguistics, being an anthropologist, and experience as a professor, a special needs teacher to third-world children where she does her archeology. And hailing from a posh, English, pedigree, is a devout Anglican who, unlike a stereotypical Western scientist, has a religion equally supernatual to the natives and therefore does not convey cultural superiority. Having her pray alongside the Muslim helpers alongside her makes her more their peer and less a White messiah.
As a hero, she should fight fascists and nurse the weak which she doesn’t do in her normal canon. Not only is she a badass adventuress and intellectual in my version but also a fighter of jihadists and uses her teaching and linguistic skills to help special needs students. Because in addition to inner depth, I want the superficial message to be good too. I want my protagonists to be role models because I want people who don’t disect my pieces to get something positive from them, as well. The only way Lara Croft is a good person in her normal canon is if your normative ethics are Rawlsian. She respects the negative liberties of her fellow citizens. If I am going to invent a hero, they’re going to possess noble traits or they fail to warrant the title of hero.
Many writers don’t try to convey philosophical meaning or, if they say anything it is a single issue polemic. When I write a piece, I think a lot about what I am trying to say and what effect it will have on my audience. I want them to come away from my art better than they came into it. I have a lot to say and I have to use poetry and metaphor to say. Poetry and metaphor whose protagonists are good people, heroes for a culture increasingly devoid of true heroism. The Guardians of the Galaxy are terrible heroes and, unlike the version fo Lara Croft I just related, they don’t defend the powerless against the powerful and nurse the weak between their episodes of badassery. They are, as put by Henry Kissinger, the idea that history is the memory of states or the Great Man theory of history where towering figures are the characters of history. They are heroes who never think about the janitors who sweep their floors or the brown sherpas who got them to the top. That is not how to write poetry or a narrative.