Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Henry V: Shakespeare as Marketing Device

Playstation 3 Advertisement. June 2008.

An alert reader send me a link to this advertisement. It uses the St. Crispin's Day Speech to create a sense of community among the gamers playing on the Playstation 3 video game console. Whether I condone this use of Shakespeare remains to be seen—however, I do recognize the power of the speech and the attempt to harness it to sell, sell, sell!

As you watch, note the subtle change from "upon St. Crispin's Day" to "upon this day." It makes the appeal much more immediate—"'This day?' did they say? Why . . . today is 'this day!' Let's grab our controllers and play—I don't want to hold my manhood cheap (whatever that means)." The elision of the phrase "in England" serves a similar function.

[Note: At one point, the ad with video was pulled from YouTube; however, I found a version with audio only. If you'd like to see this one, you can close your eyes and imagine that you're being shown images from a video game or you can follow along with the text as it's presented to you.]

For comparison, here's the relevant, unexpurgated portion of the speech:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (Henry V, IV.iii.60-67)

Links: The video at YouTube.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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