I was just now reading with some enjoyment Marc Lamont Hill's list of "The 15 Most Overrated White People" until I arrived, stunned at first sight and then simply embarrassed for Mr. Hill, at #8.
Hill opens with a preposterously superfluous yet simultaneously disparaging assertion: "There's no doubt that Shakespeare has a rightful place in the Western literary canon."
"A rightful place." Isn't that generous? Shakespeare is, has been, and always will be almost universally viewed (see this post's last sentence, and link) sitting atop the Western canon, yet Hill grudgingly labors at merely finding a "place" for Bill in it. Right. It gets worse:
Unfortunately, thanks to sycophantic critics and narrow-minded educational systems, Shakespeare is the only person who seems to matter to the average person. Billy's hulking presence in the Western literary imagination has led to the marginalization of other incredible writers of his era, such as Kyd, Middleton and Webster, whose work merits equal if not greater attention. Also, as a result of his deification, we ignore the fact that many aspects of Shakespeare's work -- such as the writing in Hamlet or the generally narrow range of female roles in his plays -- just aren't that awesome.
That first sentence--from a Shakespeare "critic," mind you--is just plain incoherent. Shakespeare only "seems" to matter because of literary sycophants--you know, Mozart wasn't so hot, either, but he's had "narrow-minded" music theorists behind him--but yea, verily, we're delighted to learn that these byzantine sycophants in their isolated ivory towers are conscientiously followed by none other than ... the average person.
Would that that were true.
Hill proceeds to a zero-sum analysis of contemporary reputations. Why? I don't know. There is no credible explanation. Ever heard of Lou Gehrig? You have? How's that? Babe Ruth was around then, too.
Hill's (mercifully) final sentence, though, leaves one altogether slack-jawed. Hamlet is unexampled in its depth of playwriting introspection, and that, gentle reader, is actually an understatement (as any sycophant will tell you). As for Hill's criticism of the "narrow range of female roles"--many among the many of which were created as wildly unorthodox, cultural puncturings of male pomposity and presumptions--well, now that's just awesomely ignorant.
Has Hill actually read Shakespeare? Or does he only read "scholars" harbored at the School of Resentment.