Today the movie “Anonymous” opens in the US and UK. It is a work of historical fiction centered around the notion that William Shakespeare was not a real person, but a pen-name used by the Earl of Oxford. Under normal circumstances it would be best to simply ignore something this ridiculous, but reaction to it goes beyond defending William Shakespeare – there is an important undercurrent hidden in the need to assault history as we know it and uncover “conspiracies” long past.
Ownership of history is, at least in part, ownership of a culture. Exposing history as a pack of lies suggests that education and culture, as we know it, is nothing more than a tool of exploiters. The somewhat desperate need to uncover conspiracies is probably nothing more than a political statement borne from the politics of our time, not the politics of 1600 portrayed on the screen. This trend is bizarre, wrong and … quite fascinating.