Shakespeare's works have an unfortunate reputation -- that would rightly bring old Willy Shakes great disappointment -- and are considered stodgy, dull, and boring. He'd twist and turn in his unknown grave if he knew that modern people thought his plays and poetry to be sterile and, god forbid, take themselves seriously. Shakespeare is anything but.
This is best proven through the various adaptations of his works, in different countries and languages. From American comedies to Bollywood dramas, films and shows have been made through the inspiration of the Bard's plays.
It's not untrue that plays such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Othello" are completely easy to read. However, they cannot be simply discarded because of an initial impression. The easiest way to tell how 'open-minded' Shakespeare's works are is by examining the movies made from them -- which are anything, but conservative.
1. She's the Man.Giphy
She's the Man is one of the most iconic movies of mid-2000s (along with Mean Girls which also includes a little "Julius Caesar" ref) and it is completely adapted from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." If you're familiar with the plot of the movie then you know that the plot's all about Amanda Bynes' character, Viola, and her attempt to prove to herself her worth as an athletic soccer player.
Although the soccer and private academy plot isn't exactly 16th century material, the themes of cross-dressing and disguises remain the same in both stories. The whole basis for "Twelfth Night" includes the confused romance and the relationship-based comedy.
2. 10 Things I Hate About You.Giphy
10 Things I Hate About You is adapted from "The Taming of the Shrew" which is actually the less feminist version of the plot and is still at the center of controversy. The original play has misogynistic themes and is actually quite aggressive in the "taming" of the main character, Katherina. What I found to be the most interesting is how the original play is anything, but flat, and creates conversation about the role of females in the "taming" which is addressed in the movie.
3. Warm Bodies.Giphy
Although there are several modern adaptations of "Romeo and Juliet" such as Romeo + Juliet and "West Side Story," the one that reflects the story of the star-crossed lovers in not a total literal sense is Warm Bodies. The characters are aptly named R and Julie; however, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic scenario takes the story from the sappy story most teens are taught in high school to a more modern version.
Frankly, I love "Romeo and Juliet" for the very fact that it isn't a love story. Unfortunately, because of the way most people in the country are taught the play, remembering the other interesting references made in films can generate that attraction towards the work once again.
4. The Lion King.Giphy
Most people might not know that The Lion King is actually based off "Hamlet." The story of the prince's attempt to avenge his father's death is what connects the two and it shows just how accessible/influential the story has become hundreds of years later.
5. And that one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.Giphy
Everyone remembers that one episode of The Suite Life when Selena Gomez guest-starred and the whole young cast participated in a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." What's funny is that the fifth-grade students of my school put on the same production just this year. The relevance of the play to our Disney Channel memories and to the current lives of students of the same age speaks to Shakespeare's influence in modern adaptations.
I hope that these and other references that are out there will convince you to pay Shakespeare a little more mind, and treat him a little less seriously and understand his impact on modern media. The best part? Some of Shakespeare's writing goes way further than any of our modern adaptations do.