March 19, 2009

Shakespeare seeks Amy

Jesse Sheidlower traces the antecedents of Britney Spears' catchy but horribly-depressing ode to low self esteem If U Seek Amy. I'm not sure if the use of 'U' in the title is (like the ham-handed opener of the video) an attempt to remove any remote bit of sly-ness from the joke so that idiot fans don't miss it or if it's just a reflexive post-Prince convention that undermines the joke unintentionally.

Back in the old Music Club days one of our themes (which I somehow neglected to blog) was songs with curse words and Jill brought in the Memphis Slim classic If You See Kay. (My contribution was the trifecta of Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.)

I remember reading about the Joyce poem when the Amy faux-controversy first hit a while back, but Jesse also points out a related Shakesepeare gag that I'd never noticed, despite having read or seen Twelfth Night countless times. Handwriting analysis at it's most gratuitously raunchy:

"By my life this is my lady's hand. These be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's."

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Still waiting for the rock en espagnol ode to Starbucks, "Úse chai tea."

And the moral is, censorship makes life richer. It turns Britney Spears into James fucking Joyce.

Also, since we're on country matters, why is it "her Cs, her Us and her Ts"? Because it's the wound that never heals, or what?

I have a very dirty mind, and a love of seeing the ribald in Shakespeare. But I don't get it. Is the pun the letters (CUTP?)or something about "great P's." I totally don't get it.

Yeah, I gotta ask: Did this Twelfth Night tip originate with Wilson Bryan Key?

If this is indeed a pun, one part of it would be "She makes great pees" (urinates in copious amounts). There may be something else in there--the Cs, Us, and Ts, could, I guess, be "seize," "use," and "tease"--but sometimes a cigar is just a brown, penis-shaped object that frat boys stick in their mouths and suckle.

My favorite Shakespeare pun is when Hamlet asks to lay his head in Ophelia's lap, and when she declines he makes a reference denying he intended "country matters."

Guess I'm the only one who read the Sheidlower piece linked to in the first sentence:

Malvolio says, "By my life this is my lady's hand. These be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's." With the and sounding like N, Shakespeare not only spells out cunt, but gets pee in there as well.

I figured that was it, but my allusion to Key stands. You really have to be looking for it and wanting to see it, unlike the Britney thing, which is kind of the reverse of that.


You have to remember it is a play, and when read aloud the joke isn't that obscure. I certainly got it when I saw a production in high school.

But yeah, sure the Britney thing is more obvious since the lyrics don't make sense any other way. On the other hand, Memphis Slim's _If You See Kay_ manages to both be sensical and obvious.

I think this guy Shakespeare could've used a little more Memphis slim, is all I'm sayin'.

Yeah, well, C U Next Tuesday.

Wow, that is some heavy duty signal processing on her voice.

She wants you to think that's what she is talking about. the real meaning is in the initials: I USA.

She'll never be the Duke of Earl but she is surely the Duchess of Counts.

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