Journalism was never Shakespeare...so why does the industry have a Hamlet Complex?

I

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! 

                                                                                                      -- Hamlet, Act V, Scene I.

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II

The drama.

The melodrama.

Hamlet was a prince who was sore at his Uncle Claudius for stealing his paper crown with the word "King" written on it. He whines as he plots and schemes to get revenge, but, of course, with the "reason" to avenge his King father's murder. Hamlet's mother Gertrude married Claudius because, obviously, he had the keys to the whole kingdom.

Hamlet did see Claudius's rise coming, and when he stayed a mere prince, he plotted and schemed, resulting in him killing Claudius, causing the deaths of many others, including himself because his games set off the series of events that killed others, who had family who sought revenge.

For all the virtue-signalling Hamlet spews, in essence, he is a weaker and more incompetent and self-absorbed version of Claudius.

Hamlet talks. A lot:

To be, or not to be? That is the question—

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And, by opposing, end them?

Had Hamlet had the right motive, perhaps he would have seen his father and his brother played the same games, and it was better to walk away and make his own world from scratch. Hamlet couldn't let go, and held grudges that took him down with the sinking ship, and in the end, fared no better than Claudius.

Both ended up dead for their troubles. He stared at the empty head of a jester, never realizing he was looking in a mirror reflecting his future.

Hamlet had nepotism on his side...until his uncle muscled in. His mother replaced one King with another. Hamlet saw something that wasn't there to justify his actions: his father's ghost. It was nothing more than a mirage and a figment representing the time where, had all things been equal, Hamlet did not have to lift a finger, and he would be crowned king.

Hamlet never bothered being vigilant or bother being a true knight to protect his family. He gets involved only when there is an upset to the pecking order and he is left out.

Of all of Shakespeare's protagonists, I always saw Hamlet as being a villain, and no matter how hard he tried to come off as a hero, not even his creator William Shakespeare could muster up enough liking for Prince of Denmark to give him what he thought he was entitled to have: revenge where he got off without a scrape -- and the status quo he did nothing to ensure he had.

III

Journalism has all of those Hamlet-esque qualities: preachy, long sermons, an assumption that they ought to be kings, having a grudge against their various Claudiuses: one called Big Tech, and the other called Trump, and plotting and scheming to get revenge because they remember the good old days when they had the reins of power and their audience was dependent on them to be informed, and get their message out.

But they also never were knights being active in protecting their kingdom, either. They just assumed they would carry the mantle of king until others saw an opportunity for progress and took it for themselves.

When it became obvious that Big Tech had taken away their crowns, the best course of action was to reinvent its purpose, mandate, methods, theories, education, and techniques, and find a way to thrive by changing the habits and routines. But the profession never questioned their basic assumptions or ever wondered what would have if the rigs that benefitted them for decades were suddenly no longer there.

If you are selling apples from your orchard, but then suddenly, everyone gets trees to grow their own, it is time to get out of the apple business.

Journalism never learns. It lives in a peculiar place that is in the past, yet they are always running in place in the Now. They do not look forward, but only back, and keep ignoring the lessons of history, the conditions of the present, yet somehow expect they will reclaim the future.

Yes, they once had a castle where they could do whatever they wished.

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Now that everyone has their own castle to write their own messages on the walls, the profession could not let go and collapsed.

Cut down and poisoned by their own blindness.

But it doesn't mean we cannot replace it with something more positive and more in tune with the world...

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