February 26, 2006

Romeo Must Die

Who had the brilliant idea of making Romeo and Juliet required reading for high school students? It's absolutely insane. Our teachers are telling hormone driven 14 year olds that it is the ultimate love story when essentially it's just two kids sneaking around behind their parents' backs to get in some good old fashioned groping. Our teachers make a big deal about how beautiful the double suicide is that was nothing more than flakey planning. I remember reading the play during my freshman year of high school and being confused why any 14 year old girl would even want to have a stinky boy keeping her up at night let alone stealing all the blankets. But other teens take the idea and use it to justify every imbecilic urge they get from Hormone Central. Thanks to this required reading, if teens' parents don't like their daughter's greasy, slick handed boyfriend the girl automatically dubs him Romeo and feels compelled to protect their vapid "love" with their life. The more problematic the relationship the better - there couldn't be any worse characteristic of a boyfriend than having your parents actually approve of him! How un-Shakespeare!

I work with a group of teenage girls and have noticed that the lamer the boyfriend, the more passionately the girl feels she has to defend him. I hesitate to mention little details to the Juliets (arrest records, drug habits) because for some asinine teenage reason this will only make them more arduous and block headed. The fact that teenage girls are fluffy brained isn't so bad in itself. What turns everything upside down is the fact that teenage boys are generally persistent little creeps. Combine their creepiness with our fluffy headed females and you've got an enormous disaster.

Will Shakespeare would be proud. His stupid teen romance novel has created generation upon generation of kids who are taught in school that if your parents don't love your loser boyfriend it's because they are narrow minded and if you then call it "true love" you can justify anything. I can't believe how old and crotchety I sound writing this but I've been thinking about it a lot lately as I've seen local kids in the most destructive relationships. You hear so much about Shaken Baby Syndrome - why don't we hear more about Shaken Teenager Syndrome? It's the only thing I can think of doing to these moony girls.

You just got to hope that they'll grow out of it - whatever that means. Unfortunately, I think it means that they'll get pregnant, have a baby out of wedlock and realize that Romeos don't like changing diapers and aren't so great after all. How could a teenager in a dumb Shakespeare relationship really think that their forbidden love formula will actually work? I haven't seen any commercials on TV lately from teenage moms talking about what a great life they have or what a hoot STDs and abortions are. I guess to a 16 year old, life is over at 21 anyways so they might as well live it up now, right? I often find myself wanting to slip into these kid's bodies and just live their lives for a little while and fix everything they are doing wrong. Hindsight is a curse that plagues everyone who has ever dated. What we need is more foresight. That and to burn every copy of that ridiculous play.


Anonymous said...

But they are in LOVE! LOVE conquers ALL! LOVE, baby. That's what it's all about, right? LOVE!

Stephanie said...

Uh huh. We just finished R&J in Early Shakespeare and I was so surprised how much my opinion has changed over the past 10+ years. I had no idea how irritating and fickle Romeo is and found myself grinding my teeth any time he or one of his posse speak. I kept thinking the same thing as you, Sarah, that I wish I could've seen past the idea that "Love justifies/conquers all" and seen the play and life for what they are. Inhabit some bodies, right some wrongs. Seriously, why do teachers promote this play in HS? If the students really knew what the characters are saying and how dirty it is, or if the teachers even realized it, would they still teach it? Just for laugh/blush value? And the stupid behaviors echoed by these kids now days--sometimes I almost wish I wasn't having kids. Sure, it's a "classic" but not in my book.