“The Taming of the Shrew” / “10 Things I Hate About You” – Badaptations (Chapter 4)


Hello and welcome to a brand new set of Badaptations. [Badaptations cover of “I Want You to Want
Me” plays in background] Today we will be talking about the play *Taming of the Shrew* and the movie *10 Things I Hate About You* …which rhymes. I guess we’ll get started with some quick
summaries. So the play *The Taming of the Shrew* was
written sometime around 1592 or earlier at least according to Stephen Greenblatt and
his gang of scholars. And it’s a play within a play that begins
with the character Christopher Sly who is tricked into thinking he’s royalty and he
watches a play about two sisters, Bianca and Kate, who are in this world of courtship. Kate is the titular “Shrew” and Bianca is the woman
that the suitors all want and need to get past Kate in order to secure Bianca’s hand
in marriage. The plot involves hiring this man to “tame”
Katherine who he calls Kate. [Clip from staged adaptation: “Kate, for that’s
your name I hear.” “Well have you heard, but something hard of
hearing. They call me Katherine that do talk of me.” “You lie in faith for you are called plain
Kate.”] And in the end through some very problematic
means which we will discuss, he does “tame” her and we see that Bianca is able to be secured
by her suitors who all don disguises to also try to court her. And the end is Bianca flipping
the tables and becoming the shrew and Kate “trained” to be exactly who Petruchio wants
her to be. So the film *Ten Things I Hate About You*
was released in 1999 and it stars Julia Stiles as Kat (so no ‘e’) Stratford (which is a play
on Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born) and then we have Heath Ledger as Patrick
Verona (Verona being where Petruchio is from in the play). Of course Patrick is their version of “Petruchio.” Names are very tricky in the play, hence me
not naming anybody except Katherine and Bianca. So none of those names really transferred through. Yeah, so we’ve got Patrick, we’ve got Kat,
we have Bianca (which stayed the same; I guess that name hasn’t really fallen out as much
as Petruchio). Anybody that wants to name their kid that,
you know, have that; that’s a gift to you from us. Bianca is the younger sister and she wants
to be popular one. Kat is a raging feminist who hates all men; and Patrick has come back
from a year of not being at Padua High (because Padua is where the play within the play takes place). And we have Cameron who falls in love; he’s
just arrived at Padua and he instantly falls in love with Bianca; but Bianca is kind of
interested in Joey. So the play turns into this modernized, simplified
rom-com. And all the guys get the girls. And the bad guys get their comeuppance. Like it’s very obvious who’s a bad guy and
who’s a good guy in the movie and in the play it’s really not the case. I guess we can begin with one of the largest
themes which is the idea of disguise and deception. The play can only take place through deception
which is also in the movie but in a really different way, right? Right, so the play begins with this outer frame, of this drunkard having- so a peasant having fallen asleep, Christopher Sly. And the lord comes back and he decides to
play a joke on him and is gonna pretend Christopher Sly is the real Lord and he’s just been dreaming. This theme of madness is really fascinating
with disguise because it’s not just disguise like in say *Twelfth Night* where people are
putting on clothes, but it’s actually disguise as in “You are mad and this is why this disguise that you have is actually your reality.” So like Christopher Sly is told that he’s been mad for fifteen years and then in the play within the play, Kat (Kate) is told that she is mad
and then Petruchio’s kind of exterior awfulness to her is played up as him being mad. So it’s madness that helps disguise. In the movie I don’t think we really get a
lot of disguise in the same way as in the play, but we do have… so Michael woos Mandela
to the prom by sending her a letter supposedly from “Your Love, W. Shakespeare.” And he gives her like a pseudo Shakespearean-era-type
dress to wear to prom and he’s in like a red . . .
[Stephanie] Austin Power’s suit I was like that’s not historically accurate,
but well played. Other disguises, yeah, we were talking about
earlier how Patrick . . . I don’t know if he contributes to the rumors but definitely
people have ideas about him being a really dangerous bad boy, like he eats ducks and
he doesn’t have his liver anymore. [Stephanie] porn career…
And he doesn’t correct any of those rumors. So he plays into it, which is kind of a disguise. [Stephanie] Yes, I feel like because it’s in a
high school, disguise is such a different- it’s a different beast in high school. So like, in the play things are dealing with
like social status. There’s one point where clothes are exchanged
in order for one of Bianca’s suitors, Lucentio to become her “tutor” he has to take on
his servant’s clothes. And clothes are what make, rank, distinguish
you by rank. In high school it’s rumors and it’s like the
rumor mill and it’s the way that rumors attribute your personality to you. So like you have these established . . . like
Kate [Kat] is the quote-on-quote “bitch” and Patrick is the “bad boy” and Bianca
is this sweet, innocent girl who’s popular, and Joey is the hand model, or nose model, or
. . . [Amy] underwear model- [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*: “So I’ve got the Sears Catalogue thing going
and the tube sock gig- that is gonna be huge.” [Man falls and screams in background]. [Joey continues:] “And I’m up for hemorrhoid
cream ad next week.” So like rumors are kind of things that disguise
and cloak you and whether you go against those rumors or follow them is what determines what your disguise is. So it’s almost like Kate [or ah, Kat] [Amy] Kat . . . told you we’d have a cat in every video. When she kind of… we learn later why she’s no longer popular: she was popular, she allows the rumors to fall on her and builds that persona and that wall, so that she has . . . that’s
a disguise. Yes, right, absolutely. And that’s what sort of lends itself to the ending
where Patrick ends up being not such a bad boy and Kat ends up not being such a shrew. But it’s not her having been tamed. It’s like actually her shucking off her disguise. So that is entirely different because there’s
no taming. And so when we say “taming” in the play it is
quite literally, like there’s this entire linguistic carry-through in the play itself
about taming animals and so Kate (Kate in the play, not Kat). It’s important to note that when Petruchio
first meets Katherine she’s called Katherine by everybody else in the play. When he first meets her he calls her Kate
and that’s the first signal that he is tearing off her identity and quite literally “taming” her. It’s giving somebody a different name; she’s no longer Katherine. You have a lot of wordplay [in the play] and he also calls
her Wild Kate which the Folger edition helpfully mentioned is obviously a pun on “wildcat.” So yeah, there’s definitely this- she’s
an animal, he’s taming her to be a proper quote-on-quote “woman.” I guess we can just get in to the gender dynamics
and why this play brings up a lot of contention in the way people approach it, read it, and
even stage it. A lot of people when they stage it have thought
of creative ways to kind of tone down the really awfulness that happens to Katherine
in the play by putting a lot of facial expressions on the actor who plays her. All the taming actually ends up failing by
adding these extra body cues. But in the play itself uh, it’s a combination
of gaslighting and stockholming this particular woman, Katherine, in order to make her less shrewish. Another adaptation I’ve seen of *Taming of
the Shrew* was actually at the Globe Theatre. So I was in London last year and they had this fantastic adaptation where they set the whole play in the Easter Rising in Ireland
so Kate is a bonnie Irish lass and by the end she ends up being tamed. So I mean it’s a lot more truthful to the
play but because they set it in Ireland the allegory is: she represents Ireland and Petruchio represents England. That taming is colonization. So on to our adaptation for today. In the movie I appreciate the ways that they
tried to update it. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You* Mr.
Morgan raps: ” In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note; But ‘tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote”] It’s not as hard to watch in a way. I think there’s commentary that you could say Shakespeare’s
doing with the play, but with the movie again he [Patrick] doesn’t really tame her. In fact, Patrick actually kind of, or his
disguise, gets tamed. Almost him becoming his truer self- so
taking off disguises, taking away the cigarette which sort of add to the bad boy persona. And by the time that they’re kind of actually
getting to know each other, they’re on a paddleboat, he seems much nicer and even his clothing
seems to be lighter colors. [Stephanie] And Kat literally exposes herself
for him by like flashing the [detention teacher] . . . so she’s literally like showing her body and putting herself out there for him [Patrick] and in, in true spirit of a teen movie that is such
a risky move and it backfires on both of them and so they have that breakup moment where
Kat actually recognizes that this was a bet, she gets mad at him . . . Patrick . . . Why
does everything rhyme? I feel like I’m in Doctor Seuss. Patrick gets mad at her, they split up, and
we find out that Patrick smokes still, so the disguises are again used as ways to maintain
distance without having to admit one’s insecurities and reality. Now we’ll move on to Bianca. So, Bianca, she’s still the more amiable of
the two, but in the play we have more suitors going for Bianca. [Stephanie] It’s three, right? Right. So we have Lucentio, Gremio, and Hortensio. Gremio is outmatched pretty early on and then
it’s down to Hortensio and Lucientio as Cambio. Bianca in both the film and play is deeply
underestimated. She has her own disguise, but the disguise
itself comes from the way that the men around her view her. So she’s viewed as beautiful and virginal
and there’s one line in the movie about . . . [Clip from movie, Michael speaking: “Wearing a strategically-planned sundress”] She’s an actual created image, and what’s
so fantastic is at the end she takes what she actually is and comes out and she’s much
more like Katherine at the beginning of the play; Katherine who binds her sister’s hands
and beats somebody with a lute and slaps people. And that is the true Bianca, and we get that
in the film in the most kick ass scene ever. [Film clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*:
“That’s for making my date bleed. That’s for my sister. And that’s for me”] It does seem that Bianca though in the movie is actually demure and wants Joey and wants
to be popular, wants everyone to like her, as she says to Kat, but then she has this real
transformation in the movie where at the prom, after Joey has revealed in front of Kat that
Patrick was being paid and it was a whole set-up she . . . well, first Cameron is like trying
to defend her honor and fails, and then Bianca shows up and punches Joey
[Stephanie] It’s so great But yeah, that is one of the best moments
of the film. And I think actually the actress who ended
up playing Bianca originally auditioned for Kat- [Stephanie] Oh, that would have been a different movie [Amy] very different movie… [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*: “How is it possible that I did not know about this?”] There’s this contest amongst the men now settled
with their women. So we have Hortensio with his widow and Lucentio
with Bianca, and Petruchio with Katherine and each man kind of bets if their wife will come
to them. And so Bianca and the widow both refuse to come. [Clip from Elizabeth Taylor version of *Taming
of the Shrew*: Women shouting “I will not”] And then Petruchio is like oh I can get Kate
to do this and he gets Kate to come, not only bringing the other women with her, but also
you know go after them about what it is to be wifely. [Elizabeth Taylor *Taming of the Shrew*: “Thy
husband is thy Lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee
and for thy maintenance commits his body to painful labor both by sea and land to watch
the night in storms the day in cold while thou liest warm at home secure and safe.”] The ending monologue that Kate gives is this,
I don’t know, it’s just, the virtues of being a good patient wife, being passive,
and that’s the best thing that you can do is to love your husband and serve him. Which is, like… reading the play that’s why
you really need to see it staged. Reading it it seems, I was just “Oh god, no.” But the film: entirely different, where she
has been assigned in English class to write a Shakespearean sonnet. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*: I hate your big dumb combat boots/And the way you read my mind/I hate you so much it makes me sick/ It even makes me rhyme […] I hate it when you’re not around/And the fact that you didn’t call/But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you Not even close, not even a little bit, not
even at all”] This monologue at the end of the movie is
just a culmination of like “oh she really loves him” and despite all the shitty things, because
he hasn’t really apologized yet at this point. He doesn’t actually really apologize ever, he just
gives he a guitar. Maybe they cut these scenes out, but there’s
no reconciliation. She runs away from him at the prom and then, because
she finds out that he actually did have a bet… He gaslights her, too! Just like Petruchio in the play. In the film Patrick actually gets Kat to start thinking
that she’s crazy. He actually even says quote “you need therapy”
when she rightly accuses him of being a little too, of having too much motivation to take
her to the prom. But in a way that actually makes the film
I feel a little, not more dangerous, but dangerous in a different way because it is more of a
happy ending and she seems to be more of a realized self, but we still have that gaslighting. At the very end, when he meets her outside
her car, he’s bought her a guitar, stuck it in her car. Did she leave the window down on her car? [Stephanie] Either that or he broke in
[Amy] and stuck it in the front seat. And then she says
[Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*: Kat: “You can’t just buy me a guitar every
time you screw up, you know.” Patrick: “Yeah, I know. But then you know there’s always drums and bass and maybe even one day a tambourine.”] It’s supposed to be a cute way for them to
maintain their like, kind of cynical behaviors. In comparison to the play, that kind of is
a little bit of a holdover of him having that power over her. [Stephanie] Yeah, that is true. Because, I mean it’s unrealistic, you’ve not
going to make a teen comedy where the boyfriend kidnaps, starves, and then somehow does some
weird psychological torture to the woman. Like that’s not gonna happen in a teen movie. [Amy] It’s gonna be a different movie.
[Stephanie] It would be terrible. That’s like *Saw* level awfulness. But that does happen in the book. But yeah, it is true, it does set up some kind of problematic relationship expectations for teens. We can take solace in the fact, though, that
Kat has been accepted to Sarah Lawrence, she’s eighteen years old, she’s in Seattle, Sarah
Lawrence is on the other side of the country. She’s gonna break up with Patrick’s ass as
soon as she sets foot on Sarah Lawrence and realizes like there’s this entire world outside
of high school. [Clip from *Aladdin*] [Amy] We don’t, well we don’t really know
what happens to Bianca other than she ends up going sailing with Cameron. I’m a little bit creeped out by the Cameron
character to be honest. He pretends to know French which is supposed to be cute, but I’m like… she’s better at French than he is. She’s not getting anything out of this relationship. And then he really plays the “nice guy.” He gives this, you know, the “Nice Guy™”
speech, like “I really liked you, and I would have
done anything for you.” And of course what she does is she goes and
kisses him and it all plays into his favor. I’m like, don’t perpetuate that stereotype
where like you can just do the littlest things like send some flowers and some chocolates to a
girl and suddenly she’ll be transformed and love you. [Stephanie] Yeah, It’s very much like the
first time he sees her he is sexually objectifying her. He’s never talked to her. He knows nothing about her. That becomes this like, thing, that they just
project whatever male fantasy they have on her. They don’t ever have to talk to her. Nobody actually… who has conversations
with her in that movie? [Amy] Kat. And even her best friend, Chastity, played
by Gabrielle Union, is a shitty friend. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*:
Bianca: “I have to be home in twenty minutes.” Chastity: “I don’t have to be home until two, so.”] [Amy] Not good at all. The father just wants to keep her like a little kid. [Stephanie] Yeah, there’s some really gross,
overly paternalistic [Clip from *Mean Girls*: “Don’t have sex. . . . cause you will get pregnant and die.”] [Stephanie] Feminists watching this want
to root for Kat and her feminism and pushing for this interesting agenda about gender, and
yet it’s white feminism to the core. So, the teacher calls her out on that. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You”:
Mr. Morgan: “And Kat, I want to thank you for your point of view. I know how difficult it must be for you to
overcome all those years of upper middle class suburban oppression.”] [Amy] It’s a good self-critique in the film. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You”:
Mr. Morgan: “But next time you storm the PTA crusading for better lunch meat or whatever
it is you white girls complain about, ask ’em why they can’t buy a book written by a
black man.” White Rastas: “That’s right mon.” Mr. Morgan: “Don’t even get me started on
you two.” White Rastas: apologetic mumbling]
[Amy] Despite the fact that this is a very loose adaptation I’m gonna say this is a good
adaptation: goodaptation. Because it does make it more relevant for
a younger generation that may not necessarily like Shakespeare or don’t know that they like
Shakespeare. [Stephanie] They borrow word for word from
the actual play. [Clip from *Ten Things I Hate About You*:
Cameron: “I burn, I pine, I perish.” Michael: “Of course.”] [Amy] I think it’s a good way to bring people
to Shakespeare because Shakespeare can be difficult. [Stephanie] Yeah, so, we, I totally and wholeheartedly
agree. I am not a teen movie fan. I am not a 90s movie fan and I am definitely
not a rom-com fan. I like Screwballs from way early on and that’s
kind of where rom-coms start, but very different premises and so I tend to watch anything from
the 90s way more critically than I would watch anything else and I went into this thinking
that I would really dislike the film but it’s actually a really fascinating adaptation. I would call it a good adaptation; a goodaptation. Because like Amy said it takes what is a classic
play that is considered high culture and distills it into something that’s digestible for teens. So it’s fascinating to have something like
Shakespeare used as a vehicle to talk about things like peer pressure, and having sex,
and boyfriends, and what it means to be a young woman and go to college or get interested
in feminism. Patrick: “Excuse me, have you seen *The Feminine Mystique*?] [Stephanie] I hope all of the teens that watched
this in the 90’s got really interested in Shakespeare and went out and took their college
classes or just read [Amy] or listened to Raincoats, or Bikini Kill
[Stephanie] Yes, all of this great kind of culture. Yeah, who would think like Raincoats, Bikini
Kill, and Shakespeare would like make it into the same sentence. *Ten Things I Hate About You* is a really
good example- It’s not the best film. It’s not something that is, you know, going
to stand up to Hitchcock or something like that. But at the same time it is the perfect example
of why Shakespeare still resonates. His plots, like Amy said, are amazing and
the perfect vehicles for transforming anything that you want to talk about into contemporary
modes of discussion. [Amy] In a way I really appreciate that it’s
not like a Hitchcock because I think you get a lot of Shakespeare adaptations that really try to stay
true to the fact that Shakespeare is a canonical author [Stephanie] *Fake Cough* Kenneth Branagh [Amy] Exactly, because I really love that
they made it into a popular genre. Back then, Shakespeare plays were something
you would go to- I mean, that’s why they have the whole like, I don’t
know how much it would have cost, but you have the “standing room” only [area] so people who
couldn’t afford to sit in the seats could just go stand and watch the play. It was for everyone, and I think that’s what
more, high school movies and like popular rom-com, chick-flick-type movies are, like that’s our
modern equivalent of that. [Stephanie] So, goodaptation all around. [Amy] So as always please give our video a like, subscribe to our channel, share it with your friends. [Stephanie] Since we are without cats right
now we’ll intersperse some images of Truman with his shrew. [Amy] Thanks for watching. See you next time. [Badaptations theme song cover of “I Want
You to Want Me.”]

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *