Saving Silverman: A Bard’s Tale

15 06 2012

Since The Off Duty Mime essentially owes its namesake to the damn thing, it’s high time somebody wrote about Saving Silverman. Specifically, Saving Silverman‘s affinity to the works of William Shakespeare, because how else am I gonna use this $30,000 English degree?

Now before you get all cranky about “learning” and click back to your bitchin LEGO sculptor character on Second Life, hear me out. Shakespeare isn’t that boring. The dude remains one of the most skilled and prolific writers of all time, and The Off Duty Mime definitely appreciates quality composition. The man freaking invented over 1,700 words, many that we still use today. ‘You know what? Accommodation sounds pretty sweet. Let’s throw that in.‘ Seriously. To say his influence on the English language was remarkable is an understatement. Even whole phrases like “heart of gold” or “break the ice” have been attributed to the Bard. To put it into context, imagine 300 years from now, it’s not just you and your bros talking about how many “bearded clams you poached” last weekend; it’s half a billion people.

“My farts are more creative than you. Show some respect.”

NOTE: This thing is riddled with YouTube links, so if you haven’t seen this film, you should probably click them. Or you know, return to Second Life.

Fool’s Gold

Saving Silverman weaves a tale many of us are familiar with: Boy (Jason Biggs) meets loyal wolf pack. Boy meets girl (Amanda Peet). Boy leaves wolfpack to live in abject servitude. Wolfpack kidnaps girl, fakes her death, forces boy to date sultry nun. It’s almost predictable, really. After all, this is a story about growing up, even if these people are complete morons.

Nearly all Shakespearean comedies have their fools: Touchstone in As You Like It, the gravediggers in Hamlet, or even quite directly, “the Fool,” in King Lear. In Silverman, Steve Zahn’s Wayne is our fool.  No, actually it’s Coach Norton (R. Lee Ermey) with his sage wisdom on proper body disposal.  It’s most definitely Jack Black, whose J.D. McNugent joins forces with the likes of Keyzer Soze, Inigo Montoya and Royal Tenenbaum in the sanctum of awesome cinematic names.

Shakespeare was also pretty keen on inserting his own brand of commentary. Silverman provides philosophical musings on the one-ness of a nacho platter; it’s got a deep understanding of advanced chemistry when McNugent’s Bunsen burner once singed his ball sack. Really, this is a time-honored tale as much as it is a holistic cultural study. Probably.

“…Of which vertu transgendered is the flour.”

Yeah, I know that’s Chaucer. But it’s clever, okay? Don’t be a dick.

Shakespeare loved completely F’n with social values: sexual relationships, gender relations, societal hierarchies. You know, lame crap. What’s cool about Shakespeare is he was totes bored with chicks who acted like chicks, too. Viola used to be a woman. Add a little crotch stuffing and BAM! Cesario!

It’s the same deal in Silverman. As is likely revealed offscreen or in some forty minute extended director’s cut, Judith clearly harbors some dominatrix tendenices. But with really great tits. Darren is hers. She owns him. He’s her puppet and she’s his master. MAS-TER! MAS-TER!  Sure Darren submits to taking Judith’s last name, but this thing goes beyond a feminist critique on the institution of marriage or the history of property rights. Judith is aggressive, and Darren is too easy. Our typical gender conventions aren’t reversed; they’re annihilated. Darren’s a pushover in the most literal of senses, while Judith could definitely force him to orally pleasure her yogurt pot on a regular basis. In fact, she does.

Everyone Gets Hitched.

Tragedies end in death; comedies, in weddings. This trope often gets stretched to the extreme, too. The Taming of the Shrew alone features three new marriages before the curtain call. So how do you top three marraiges? Make one of them gay! The closing minutes of Saving Silverman are an unabashed love fest with a generous cheese-filled helping of the one and only Neil Diamond, master of the saccharine. MAS-TER! MAS-TER! Darren nuts up for the first time ever and hooks up with Sandy. Wayne and Judith realize their bipolar sexual aggression for each other is strangely perfect. And J.D. and Coach are…gay. Why not?

So Darren might be a caricature, but he’s certainly a familiar one. He’s that idiotic buddy who disappears with his annoying girlfriend, never to be seen again. He’s also your closest high school girlfriend, running away with that douche bag who was always too old for her anyway. Betch. But rather than reinforce the mound of guilt you likely felt about it, Saving Silverman tells you those pangs of crippling judgment aren’t wrong. In actuality, your friends are stupid and you know more about their lives than they do.

So go! Right those relationships and tell the people you love  just how idiotic they are! They’ll surely come to thank you in time. Or hate you for eternity. Either one, really.

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