In another deleted LiveJournal post, Brooke McEldowney says…
In the parry and thrust of life, I have neglected to address one little issue that has arisen among my readers – that is, the canard that I hate the whole stinking lot of you and think you’re a gaggle of saw-toothed boobs and beefwits. This observation arose over my commentary about reader reaction to my Pibgorn version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (now dubbed, by some of you, “A Pibsummer Night’s Dream”). I tried to be clear in defining what made a reader a beefwit in my estimation, i.e., the disposition to rain down invective and verbal abuse because I was imposing Shakespeare on the unprepared mind.
Allow me to illustrate the distinction between beefwit and non-beefwit, as selected at random from my mailbag during the run of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”:
BEEFWIT: “Knock it off! What kinda hitshed are you?! Dump this fake old English carp and draw me some body-painted naked babes, you sock-cucking jerk!”
NOT A BEEFWIT: “Frankly, although I appreciate your effort at a new setting for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ I find, all things said and done, that I prefer a more classical interpretation, something in line with Royal Shakespeare Company productions of earlier years. In addition, I believe the employment of Elizabethan English in the context of a cartoon has not been your most successful enterprise, you sock-cucking jerk.”
My personal opinion of the “Pibsummer” series is: I applaud Mr. McE’s effort to bring something Shakespearian to the masses, with the knowledge (I hope) that it involved traversing a minefield of cultural problems, and was happy that he chose the one play in which I had had a minor role in a College production. There is nothing inherently wrong with changing the locale as he did, in fact, it is so common that the fake-news source The Onion recently had an article titled: “Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended”. Some of the ‘casting’ was excellent, Pibgorn as Puck, Thorax as the Duke, but the inclusion of characters from “9 Chickweed Lane” in some of the roles just felt strange. Like making the amateur theatrical troupe an “all-girl group” (an intriguing and literate translation from the all-male acting profession of Shakespeare’s time) except for Chickweed’s Amos. And having Edda and Seth as two of the star-crossed lovers. And changing Hermia’s father Ageus to mother Agea, just to include Gran (I must admit… that one bothered me because in the College production I alluded to above, I played Ageus). But for anyone who reads Chickweed (an overwhelming majority of Pibgorn’s readers), it was a distraction. One other thing from my experience with the play: in the final act, the performance for the Duke by the amateur actors, while considered very comical in its time, is terribly anti-climactic for modern audiences. My College production edited it down severely; Pibgorn seemed to drag it out. And then the ‘post-production interviews’ not only collapsed the Fourth Wall like Building 7 of the WTC, it also gave the impression that McEldowney would do anything to further delay returning to Pibgorn’s regular format. And when the ending is the worst part, it’s hard to remember all the good parts that came before. And that’s my message to Mr. McEldowney, you sock-cucking jerk.