Host of PBS radio show “This American Life” Ira Glass, created a storm of controversy on Twitter when he after seeing John Lithgow play King Lear, he concluded that “Shakespeare sucks.”
He tweeted, “John Lithgow as Lear tonight. Shakespeare: Not good. No stakes, not relatable. I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks.”
Ira Glass appeared on the Tonight Show to describe to Jimmy Fallon the fallout from the tweet and if he had altered his assessment concerning Shakespeare sucking.
Glass said he was surprised by the intensity of the controversy that ensued. He had no idea “Shakespeare has such a huge internet presence. People were writing articles about it in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal the New Yorker all calling me a dumbass. Even the National Review. The left and the right ganged up and agreed I was an idiot … The problem is I’m on public broadcasting. Shakespeare and I are supposed to be on the same team. It would be like Mr. Rogers tweeting, Kermit is an asshole.”
When asked by Fallon if Glass really and truly believes Shakespeare sucks, Glass backtracked, or rather elaborated, depending on your point of view, “No, Shakespeare doesn’t suck. I’ve seen a lot of Shakespeare plays lately, and they are beautifully written, but I don’t connect emotionally to a lot of them. I mean with Lear, there are these long mad scenes and some of the B Plot characters are cartoonish.”
Believe it or not, there are great writers, such as George Bernard Shaw and Tolstoy who also “didn’t connect” with Shakespeare, a writer who was largely regarded by mainstream critics as vulgar and beneath their consideration until the 19th century when interest in the Bard was revived.
Although Twitter was not kind to Ira Glass for a good while after that tweet, he admitted he had a “good Twitter experience” recently when he commented a frozen yogurt place in New York called “Sixteen Handles” was disrespectful to “Sixteen Candles” star Molly Ringwald. The actress tweeted that she endorsed Ira’s tweet.
Ira Glass is a distant cousin of composer Philip Glass and was raised by Jewish parents in Baltimore, Maryland. His mother Shirley Glass was a psychologist and infidelity researcher; The New York Times called her “the godmother of infidelity research.”