Karen Knapstein, Shakespeare, and Sony Pictures

November 1, 2011

From Jim Metrock:

This video from Channel One’s web site is fascinating. I learned much about William Shakespeare.

Last year I read Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage and loved it as I do all Bryson’s books, but I am surprised that many of the facts in this video were left out of the book.

The video features Roland Emmerich giving ten reasons to suspect Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare.  All of the reasons he gives gave me a lot to think about.

I found this video on a blog on Channelone.com.

After watching the video I hope you continue reading.

I know you found that video interesting. There is something else interesting about the video and why it was on Channelone.com.

Your first thought might be Channel One News featured this video to educated young people and you are right, but not in the way you think.

Here is the blog post by Karen Knapstein:

Karen Knapstein

October 21, 2011

image: AnonymousLike a lot of good English majors, an opportunity to revisit a classic in a fun way is always welcome.

Which is why the new movie,Anonymous (out  on Friday, the 28th!) was intriguing when I first saw an ad for it, but impossible to resist when the marketing team for the movie approached Channel One about posting a video they’d created on the site. When we said “sure, we like Shakespeare, and teens have a tendency to struggle with it so anytime there’s a chance to make it more accessible, we’ll go for it,” they upped the ante with an offer to let us interview the director, Roland Emmerich.

As a huge fan of disaster movies, that was also something I had to take them up on. Emmerich also directed “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012.”

Without further commentary, then, here’s what we asked and how he answered. You can also watch the video about the movie below and decide for yourself if there are enough reasons to question Shakespeare’s legitimacy as an author, but I’ve got to say, the one about notes to his family sort of has me convinced…

C1: How did you become interested in William Shakespeare’s (possibly theoretical) life?
Emmerich: Honestly through the script. Didn’t grow up studying Shakespeare too much in Germany where the focus was more on Goethe and Schiller.

C1: In the United States, it’s common for students to have trouble understanding Shakespeare’s work because of the differences in language between now and then. Do German students study Shakespeare? Do they have similar challenges?
Emmerich: Absolutely. Shakespeare’s texts are rich in contemporary allusions and contain so many layers of meaning that interpretation can be perilous, particularly 400 years later.

C1: What kind of research did you do for the film?
Emmerich: Read up on all angles, first online mainly and then every major book on the market from all sides. I always read much and although not a scholar I still learned a whole lot about the topic.

C1: Do you have any other pet conspiracy theories?
Emmerich: Yes, everything surrounding JFK’s death, if you still consider that a conspiracy theory. I have a script surrounding JFK and a theory that’s different from what we all were taught about his death.

C1: Many of your previous films have been large scale blockbusters with lots of special effects – we imagine “Anonymous” will not be. Was it more or less of a challenge than dealing with big effects?
Emmerich: Not true, lot of VFX, just a different kind. It was about recreating rather than destroying. The challenge was to find enough research material to recreate London of that time accurately.

C1: What kinds of films and TV shows do you enjoy?
Emmerich: Usually smaller indie movies and I don’t watch TV.

C1: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring filmmakers?
Emmerich: Stay true to what you want yourself to do and don’t do what others expect or want you to do.

*Please note: though we often work with Sony on paid campaigns, this blog post is not sponsored*

End of Channel One’s blog post.


This is typical content for the hyper-commercial Channel One News.  A blog post about Shakespeare is in reality a commercial for Sony’s new movie Anonymous. Roland Emmerick is not a leading Shakespearean scholar but a movie director plugging his new film.

Ms. Knapstein’s comment at the end that her blog post is not sponsored is routine Channel One Doublespeak. OK, so Sony didn’t pay Channel One to write this promotional piece. It is still an ad for the movie. Ads are ads even if no money changes hands. It’s in Channel One’s and Ms. Knapstein’s financial interest to help Sony get kids to buy tickets for this movie, if Channel One wants to continue being paid by Sony for other movie advertising.

Ms. Knapstein wrote this article the week Anonymous was opening in movie theaters. Coincidence? Hardly. Ms. Knapstein as the editor of Channelone.com is an aggressive kiddie marketer.  She has saturated the Channel One News website with advertising. Take a look at her handiwork: Channelone.com. Spend some time jumping from page to page.  Ms. Knapstein has created a nightmarish Commercial Circus for children.

Ms. Knapstein’s editorial decisions reflect her caring more about advertisers than the young people and children who visit her site.  She refuses to warn young people after they have clicked on an ad that they will be leaving Channel One’s website.  Channel One and Ms. Knapstein know that children younger than the preteens forced to watch Channel One News at school visit Channelone.com. This is especially true now that Channel One and their new partner Promethean are targeting elementary school children.  Channel One’s ads can propel children to the farthest reaches of the Internet. That is just wrong, but not in Ms. Knapstein’s eyes.

This Channelone.com editor also insists on advertising PG-13 movies to the same under-13 kids. That stinks, but it has the smell of money to Ms. Knapstein and Channel One.

This blog post about the movie Anonymous is close to a perfect advertisement because it is made to look like something other than what it is.  These type of non-ad ads are commonplace on Channel One News the TV show and Channelone.com.  They shouldn’t be. They are purposely made to confuse young people.  Channel One blogs create the appearance of being “educational” but often are shameless, not-too-subtle ads.

“And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”

King Richard III

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