“As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on”

Hamlet (1.5. 179-180)

Hamlet, in Hamlet, has a bit of a problem. His father has been killed by his uncle, Claudius.

He could fight him, call him out on it, or sue him. But Hamlet doesn’t. He seems to feel that if his father could be killed off, there isn’t much chance for him to take his revenge in such an easy way. He cannot go toe-to-toe with Claudius.

So he pretends to be mad.

This seems odd, but consider that Hamlet’s dad was also called Hamlet. He was, in certain regards, a backward extension, an Ur-Hamlet, more than a progenitor; he was part of Hamlet.

The idea of pretending to be mad was to get Claudius to accidentally show his hand, to prove that he killed Old Hamlet. Codes, riddles, duplicity and bizarre affectations, tangential sentences that go nowhere and fits of rage.

Now, this naturally leads us to the 2017 Pepsi Commercial starring Kendall Jenner that was called “Live for Now.” Possibly the most vapid commercial imaginable on social justice, police brutality, and stopping a race war by giving a man in a riot uniform some fizzy sugar water, presented by a $70 billion dollar a year multinational owned by Vanguard and BlackRock.

Bear with me.

2019. The Gillette advert airs and is panned. Social commentary from Proctor and Gamble, a $76 billion dollar a year company on toxic masculinity and sexism from a company with double the number of male presidents to female presidents, twenty-five to twelve who also have ties to child labour and forced labour encampments.

Bear with me.

What if all of the strange cultural phenomena happening recently is all to do with our relationships with corporations? What if this a case of a mass denial of letting corporations into our personal lives?

And some have tried very hard. Wendy’s, for example, with their mixtape “We Beefin’?” and off-the-wall Twitter account comes close, as does Radio Shack coming back onto Twitter and trying to copy Wendy’s, but really, there’s no glazing over the fact these are rich out-of-touch suburbanites in offices pretending to care about you and your likes, dreams and hopes for the future when they honestly wouldn’t care if you died tomorrow.

In England, a stupid fish-and-chip shop called Binley Mega Chippy had a dumb theme tune and got 500 million streams and people from all over the world making pilgrimages. Everyone on Twitter pretended Morbius made “a morbillion dollars” and that their favourite quote was when Morbius said “It’s Morbin’ Time!” and morbed everywhere. They tricked cinemas into continuing to show Morbius, for a second climatic run, convincing a bunch of old rich people that internet popularity could be capitalised on and went on to lose untold sums of money.

Now thousands of people are dressing up in suits and women are wearing regal gala dresses to Minions: The Rise of Gru.

The most popular TikTok trend as of typing is “Horace,” a deformed man in cashmere pajamas.

There are many more examples on what I’ve come to think of as “Cultural Hamletism,” but it boils down to a simple formula: you can’t fight a corporation, so just confuse them and make them lose money.

The average example of “Cultural Hamletism” has to be:

  • Completely unmarketable and immune to corporate influence.
  • Make little to no sense.
  • Be protected from those who’d wish to corrupt it.

On somewhat of a tangent, you can see some examples on Twitter and it becomes evident that in order to succeed, posting something oddly specific and yet seemingly random will get you the most engagement.

For example, “Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a pleasant day. Is anyone else enjoying the rain in Bristol?” will fall flat but “You cannot run, Natasha. I will grease you up and drop you in a bath with a live belt sander.” will go viral.

The problem is that attention and engagement matter over anything. Responses of “Who’s Natasha?” and “Why do you think threatening women is funny?” and “You’re fucking sick.” still count as engagement as much as “I’m enjoying the rain too, my garden looks lovely!” And so you have to provoke, in a sense.

It is one of the many reasons I don’t like Twitter.

One thing, a thought I don’t want to put my name to because it’s simply an errant thought, is the prevalence of non-binary, genderqueer and alternate genders which have arisen in the 2010’s plus. I am not going to say “it’s fashionable,” but I think there may be crossover with demonising femininity and demonising masculinity which may have lead people into not wanting to feel like villains and thereby identifying without. And honestly, is it not sensible to not be involved? Cultural Hamletism seems to be the natural progression from the Cultural Relevance of early adverts where you were told what to buy to buy and your wife was told what to buy to the Cultural Dissemination later on, the nihilism of it all as people felt that their belongings didn’t matter as much as their identity leading clever marketers to try and sell us identities rather than products and now we’re at a cultural point where we are identifying differently to avoid being constantly marketed to. Enby, then, is perhaps a marker of Cultural Hamletism. It’s not madness, it’s not being ironic, it’s not pretending or feigning, it’s actualising another mode of being to avoid the wrath of the tyrannical kings who have all the money and try to convince you that if you buy their thing, you’ll be just like them in a calcified economy that started being a joke over a decade ago and is still a joke, but with a muted laugh track and sense of abandonment by anyone who is not actively shitposting about Morbius, attending The Minions: Rise of Gru in a suit, and taking a 14-hour pilgrimage to Binley Mega Chippy.

Or fucking something, I don’t know. The Gen-Zs are being weird and I’m too old to understand.

That one, probably.