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This post is brought to you by the Netflix original series House of Cards, starring two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.
To really make it as a gold-standard black-hearted schemer, you’ve got to think like a Shakespearean villain. It’s all tactics, greasing the right palms, controlling the drip-feed of information that goes to friends and enemies alike, and above all, utter ruthlessness in the pursuit of your goal.
House of Cards, which comes to Netflix today (February 1), showcases Kevin Spacey as a U.S. politician who clearly knows his Shakespeare very well.
It’s based on a British original from 1990, which busied itself with the cutthroat reality of conservative politics, revolving around one particularly nasty swine, Francis Urquhart. Heavily mired in the class structure of English politics, it was written by Lord Dobbs, and used, as dramatic structure, the commonly assumed – but easily broken – bonds that exist between people in the uppermost circles of power.
In the Netflix update, Kevin plays Frank Underwood (same initials, you’ll notice — this is not a coincidence), amid the similarly puffed and swaggering power brokers of Washington D.C. As a villain, he has a certain Shakespearean swagger about him: a touch of scheming, seething Iago, crossed with Lady Macbeth, King Claudius from Hamlet, and of course, the daddy of them all, Richard III.
How much he has of each is a question that can only be solved by a trained psychologist — albeit one with a literature degree — OR a personality test like this (which you are also free to take too, to find out just how dirty you are prepared to let your hands get in pursuit of your goals):
Well, how did you do?
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic