Voyeurism + Shared Experience: A movie tagline plays up what the audience knows

I have a terrible memory for my own personal history, but I think I was a freshman in high school when Romeo+Juliet came out. I was a huge lit nerd even then, so I loved Shakespeare, and I remember feeling distinctly ambivalent about the modern take on the tragic tale.

The two things I knew for sure about the movie were that the dude who played Mercutio killed it, and the tagline was unimaginative and awful. In case you don’t remember it (why would you; it wasn’t particularly memorable), it was: “The classic love story set in our time.” Wretched!

One of the most fascinating elements of Shakespeare’s plays being continually rebooted and reimagined–as plays, operas, movies, and more–is that somehow, even though everybody already knows the ending, people still show up.

Beyond the obvious facts that the stories are riveting, the characters rich, and the struggles universal, it’s almost as if part of their appeal lies in the fact that they are familiar, and that we can all expectantly fall in step with the protagonists along their inevitable march to doom.

There’s a subtle call toward this shared voyeurism, so I wondered if I could create a more powerful tagline that captured that strange phenomenon.

romeoandjuliet

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