This YouTube video Ophelia Drowns (uploaded by Bella1951) is a naturalistic style reproduction of Ophelia’s last moments. Here Ophelia’s death is imagined as
an accident rather than an intended act. The video is part of the well-established cultural afterlife of Shakespeare’s Ophelia: as an icon of girlhood; as teen-in-crisis; as spectacularization of death; as metaphor for media representations of women. There is an entire website devoted to Ophelia, which discusses recreations, responses, adaptations across Web 2.0 platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook and YouTube (see Alan Young’s http://www.opheliapopularculture.com/). A recent volume of essays The Afterlife of Ophelia, ed. by Kaara Peterson & Deanne Williams (New York: Palgrave, 2012) offers new ways of approaching the significance and multiple meanings of the figure. Ophelia seems to crop up repeatedly, most recently in Kylie Minogue’s music video Flower (Dir. Kylie Minogue, 2012). These citations may have less to do with Shakespeare’s character than with the circulation of recognizable images across Western media: as such, Shakespeare is one among a series of heavily mediated references. But adaptations like Bella1951’s Ophelia Drowns seem to be concerned with suggesting an ‘authentic’ Ophelia, as if saying “this is what really happened”; in the process, they stage an intervention in what Ophelia and her associative images are understood as meaning.