The Other 5 Reasons Roland Emmerich is an Idiot

Here beginneth Part the Second (see here for Part the First):

6. Not edumucated enough.

Considering the anti-intellectual slant of Shakespeare-deniers (expressed by a comment on this post from screenwriter John Orloff), this one is rich.  As Emmerich says, “no records prove that Shakespeare ever attended the Stratford Grammar School.” True, no records survive before the nineteenth century. “Yet the work of William Shakespeare the writer shows extensive knowledge of [a bunch of stuff] as well as aristocratic activities such as royal tennis and falconry. Call me a snob….” Yup, you’re a big snob…. “but even if he was a genius, he couldn’t have pulled that one off without leaving a trace of his learning.” I don’t get it. Aren’t all those examples Emmerich provided evidence of Shakespeare’s learning? Not just formal education, but a continuing interest in learning things and, you know, reading stuff? “William Shakespeare had the largest English vocabulary of any writer in history. Not quite grammar school level I would say.” Well, then, you would be wrong. Again. First of all, “education” in Shakespeare’s day meant classical education: Latin and Greek. They weren’t learning English composition, much less creative writing. Second, as Shakespeare scholars have pointed out repeatedly, Shakespeare’s education was perfectly sufficient. James Shapiro notes that a grammar school education “was roughly equivalent to a university degree today, with a better facility in Latin than that of a typical classics major” (Contested Will, p. 276).

And let us not forget the things Shakespeare got wrong. In The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare provided Bohemia with a coastline and a desert that it doesn’t actually have. Ben Jonson considered such mistakes risible. If you click the link above, you can see how Oxfordians have danced around this issue, and, if you scroll down a bit, you can see the history of the word “dildos.” It has nothing to do with the authorship question, but it’s fun. Shakespeare also kindly bestowed a harbor on Padua in The Taming of the Shrew.

7.  “Here is a big one:” if Emmerich had been Shakespeare, he wouldn’t have retired so early.

So what? What does Emmerich’s interminable drive to make splashy, bad movies have to do with Shakespeare? Emmerich adds that, after Shakespeare retired to Stratford (which was not the tiny town Emmerich makes it out to be), he never wrote “a single poem, play or sonnet again.” Okay, first, sonnets are poems. Second, argument from ignorance. How do you know he didn’t write anything ever again? Just because they don’t survive doesn’t mean they never existed. Finally, Shakespeare’s last plays (all collaborations) were probably written after after Shakespeare had largely retired and been replaced as principle playwright by John Fletcher.

“I would never compare myself to Shakespeare.” Oh, good, then shut up. “But to me the idea of retiring from directing and moving back to my hometown and never to be associated with movies again is just completely unthinkable.” Do you have a wife and kids in your hometown? And as we’ve seen, Shakespeare did continue to be associated with the theater (see more here). So, no, the explanation is not that he ran out of “idears.”

8. There is no record of Shakespeare traveling abroad, but he mentions Italy and other foreign lands a lot in his plays.

Argument from ignorance: we have no records of Shakespeare traveling abroad; therefore he must never have traveled abroad. Actually, we just don’t know. Even if he never left England, there were ways of finding out stuff about other countries. In the Renaissance they had a primitive version of Google earth.  It was called a “map.” And while Shakespeare didn’t have access to Wikipedia, there were these things called “books.” Oh, and while he couldn’t watch the Travel Channel (Emmerich actually sarcastically suggests this) there were travelers that he could talk to. And let us not forget Bohemia’s coastline and desert and Padua’s harbor.

9. The Stratford monument may have been altered to show Shakespeare as a writer.

Shakespeare’s monument was erected sometime between his death in 1616 and the publication of the First Folio in 1623 (the Folio mentions the monument). It shows Shakespeare with his arms resting on a cushion and holding a quill in one hand and a piece of paper in the other.

Emmerich points out that there were renovations to the monument. This is true. It was also repainted several times. He points out that in an early “engravement,” Shakespeare isn’t holding quill and paper; instead he is holding a “sack of grain.” The engraving appeared in William Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire published in 1656. Here it is:

First of all, while historians agree that the monument was renovated, I don’t think they believe it was renovated as early as 1656 (only a few decades after its erection). Secondly, the “sack of grain” is pretty clearly an awkward representation of the cushion, which is cut from the same hunk of stone as the bust (including the forearms and hands that rest on it). Why there is no quill and paper, I don’t know. Here is a discussion of the Dugdale engraving.

Also, you will notice that, even in the engraving, there is an inscription beneath the bust. This is what it says: “IVDICIO PYLIVM, GENIO SOCRATEM, ARTE MARONEM, TERRA TEGIT, POPVLVS MÆRET, OLYMPVS HABET.” Translation, “In judgment a Pylius [Nestor], in wit a Socrates, in art a Maro [Virgil]; the earth buries [him], the people mourn [him], Olympus possesses [him].” Not the inscription of a grain merchant. Although it is not visible in the engraving, there is also an English epithet (on the same slab as the Latin and so necessarily contemporary with it). It says (in modernized spelling): “Stay passenger, why goest thou by so fast? Read if thou canst, whom envious Death hath placed within this monument, Shakespeare, with whom quick nature died, whose name doth deck the tomb far more than cost, sith all that he hath writ leaves living art, but page, to serve his wit.” In other words, quill or no, the monument absolutely identifies Shakespeare as a writer, as is clear even in Dugdale’s rather bad drawing.

10. The bloody will.

“Can you believe that the last will of William Shakespeare of Stratford does not mention any books or manuscripts?” Why, yes, Roland: I can believe that, and if you can’t, your disbelief is merely an argument from incredulity. “Didn’t he care what would happen to his life’s work after his death?” Okay, I’m just going to copy and paste what I said about the will in my first post on this blog:

As for the will…well, Oxfordians get very excited about the will.  Shakespeare doesn’t mention his library, his books or his plays.  True, but he didn’t personally own the plays: they belonged to the acting company.  Those that were published became the property of the publisher.  He doesn’t mention books, but nor does he mention many specific items: the bulk of his estate was entailed.  Shapiro, citing  James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, notes that when Shakespeare’s son-in-law John Hall went to prove Shakespeare’s will, he apparently had with him “an inventory of the testator’s household effects” (qtd. in Shapiro, p. 50).  Shapiro continues:

Whatever valuable books, manuscripts, or letters Shakespeare owned and was bequeathing to his heirs would have been listed in this inventory rather than in the will itself (which explains, as Jonathan Bate has observed, why the surviving wills of such Elizabethan notables as the leading theologian Richard Hooker and the poet Samuel Daniel fail, like Shakespeare’s, to list any books at all).  (p. 50)

So, there you have it: arguments from ignorance, arguments from incredulity, arguments from snobbery and romanticism and arguments from what Roland Emmerich would have done if he’d been Shakespeare. And not a single iota of evidence to support the case for another author. [Emmerich mode] I chust don’t buy it [/Emmerich mode].



The Norton Shakespeare.  Gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt.  New York and London: Norton, 1997.  Texts based on the Oxford Edition, gen. eds. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.

The Riverside Shakespeare.  2nd ed.  Text. ed. G. Blakemore Evans.  Boston: Houghton, 1997.

Shakespeare: Life and Times. Palomar College.

Shapiro, James.  Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare.  New York: Simon, 2010.

Shapiro, James. “Hollywood Dishonors the Bard.” New York Times 16 Oct. 2011

Wells, Stanley.  Shakespeare & Co.: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, and the Other Players in His Story.  New York: Vintage, 2006.

12 Responses to The Other 5 Reasons Roland Emmerich is an Idiot

  1. “William Shakespeare had the largest English vocabulary of any writer in history.”

    Could hardly be wronger. He likely didn’t even use more words than his fellow dramatists, let alone more words than later writers.

    More details here:

    • Eve says:

      Good point. Also very good points about “Bardolatry:” placing Shakespeare on a pedestal, treating him as “special,” and isolating him from his contemporaries.

    • Bob says:

      Oh, excellent. I had heard that but had never thought to question it. Thanks!


      • jroach says:

        I don’t think Shakespeare was that gargantuan genius everyone makes him out to be; then again you’re trying to rank art, which is like translating sponge cake; the nature of the latter contradicts the intent of the former.

        As for making up words, i don’t think it necessarily makes him smarter. Snoop Dogg makes up shizzle all the dizzle and to frizzin hizzle with his historizzle repusheezy.

  2. Pacal says:

    Well I just read a review that gave the plot of Anonymous that showed that it has much of the Prince Tudor thing except for several elements.

    Not only does it have Elizabeth I sleeping with whoever and having de Vere, who she later sleeps with and has Southhampton, but that the Earl of Essex, was also Elizabeth I’s son and became her lover also???!!!!

    Just why Emmerlich kept out de Vere makibng out with his “son” Southhampton is a bit mysterious, probably Emmerlich found it immoral?! And apparantly there are versions of the Prince Tudor nonsense that have Elizabeth and de Vere sharing Southhampton.. I could just puke!

    Talk about incest porn!

    What amazes me is that in this whole convoluted incest plot, does anyone bother to check with a few experts on Elizabeth I? Apparantly not. Not one serious biographer of Elizabeth I has ever claimed seriously, exceptto dismiss as absurd gossip that Elizabeth I ever got pregnant much less had multiple bastard children. Virtually all of them take seriously Elizabeth’s repeated declarations that she was a “intact” virgin. Also given just how open Elizabeth I’s court was just how could she have children secretly? It is simply absurd.

    By showing just how utterly absurd is the arguement that de Vere was Shakespeare, given the idiot, made up fantasy to justify secrecy, I do hope this as earned the Oxfordians the ridicule they so richly deserve.

    I note that so far the so called “scholarly”Oxfordians have been silent here.

    • Eve says:

      Well, sure, maybe Oxford schtupped both his mother and son/half-brother (from the Oxfordian point of view) but at least he wasn’t middle class.

  3. Bob Grumman says:

    Richard Brinsley Sheridan, famous English playwright, retired from playwriting at the age of 29. One of many complete refutations of one of Roland’s moronic arguments. One of the many things I’ve discovered about these clowns, by the way, is that they rarely have the imagination to picture anyone acting differently in a situation than they would have. They would never have retired, So Will couldn’t have. They would never neglect a daughter’s formal education, so Will couldn’t have. They would never make what seem to be an illegible signatures, so Will couldn’t have. Perhaps the biggest one is that they couldn’t have gotten anywhere without some kind of lengthy formal education having been pounded into them, so Will couldn’t have.

  4. David Gerard says:

    Daily Mash: Shakespeare was an alien, says Emmerich

    “ROLAND Emmerich says his new film will prove that William Shakespeare was a 300-foot alien.

    In Emmerich’s new documentary Doom Globe, Elizabeth I, played by Scarlett Johansson, needs a brooding tragedy on the themes of revenge, madness and mortality within 48 hours or Hampton Court will be blown up by the CGI playwright, voiced by Vin Diesel …”

  5. knitwitted says:

    11. ”Here is a big double one:” Emmerich only made this movie to cinch his spot on Dancing With The Stars.

  6. Bradley A. Skene says:

    What that article says about Dildos first appearing on stage in The Winter’s Tale may be true as far as English goes, but one of the reason the Athenian Women in Lysistrata opposed the war was that the blockade interfered with the importation of dildos from Miletus,

  7. […] brings up the will, which doesn’t mention Shakespeare’s plays or books. See reason 10 here. So, Sir Derek proposes to offer us a different story. At this point the film moves into the past. […]

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