#ShakespearesShitstorm (2020)

Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Writer: Brandon Bassham
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s The Tempest
Cast: Lloyd Kaufman, Erin Patrick Miller, Abraham Sparrow, Kate McGarrigle, Amanda Flowers, Debbie Rochon, Zoë Geltman, Dylan Greenberg, Frazer Brown, Monique Dupree, Teresa Hui, Ahkai Franklin
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2020

Content Note: racism, sexism, ableism

Prospero (Lloyd Kaufman) and his sister Antoinette (Lloyd Kaufman) were working together to make the world a better place with their scientific achievements. But when Prospero realizes that Antoinette’s motives aren’t quite as noble, he took his blind daughter Miranda (Kate McGarrigle) and fled to Tromaville. Now Antoinette and her cronies are on a cruise and Prospero has a plan: he feeds laxatives to the whales around them and the ensuing literal shit storm brings them all to Tromaville.

#ShakespearesShitstorm is the Troma take on Shakespeare’s Tempest, plus the evil of pharmaceutical companies and, for some reason, the evil of “woke culture”. I know that Troma movies aren’t my thing and I probably would have skipped it entirely if it hadn’t been the third film in a quadruple feature, but that last part – the dig at social activism – really made me hate the film.

The film poster showing a drawing of Prospero (Lloyd Kaufman) holding a skull in his hand that is running with green goo. There are several TV screens showing stills from the film.

#ShakespearesShitstorm is the epitome of the critique of “SJWs” and “woke culture” that believes that is it leftist but completely misses the point (and also thinks that it is punching up, not down). In this case, the main argument seems to be that people are so busy with critizing the minor harms of political incorrectness that they don’t have the time anymore to see the real evils of the world like Big Pharma or ecological destruction. This take ignores completely that the calls for “political correctness”, for being aware of privilege, for consciously using language are just the most visible part of dismantling hierarchies and injustices everywhere. Pretending like this criticism is unimportant and takes away focus from the “real fight” is, in fact, silencing and stifling any fight at all.

Ironically, the film itself is so obsessed with criticizing “SJWs” and “woke culture” that it falls in the trap it thinks it’s laying bare: it barely spends any time anymore criticizing big pharma or ecological destruction itself. I’m pretty sure that MAGA types will watch this film and will agree with pretty much all of it.

Prospero (Lloyd Kaufman) arriving in Tromaville.

Apart from the fact that it is ridiculous to make fun of the fight against racism, sexism and ableism, the film effectively reproduces them and is absolutely racist, sexist and ableist itself, ending in a “I don’t see color or gender, I just see the person” type of thing that doesn’t dismantle hierarchies, but simply denies them.

If you strip all of that away from the film, what is left is a whole lot of shit (literally). And fecal humor just isn’t my thing, so there really wasn’t anything in the film for me at all. I saw it coming, but I wish I had been wrong about it.

Ferdinand (Erin Patrick Miller) and Miranda (Kate McGarrigle) at a protest.

Summarizing: The last Troma film I will have seen for sure.

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