For those of you who haven’t already seen it, some LA Mormon girls have made a hilarious and so far fake trailer for Jane Austen’s Fight Club.
Now this is deeply satisfying; I don’t deny it. Everyone wants to see proper young ladies kick ass. Time period is not important, but the more proper, the more ass they obviously have to kick. (See: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, obviously Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Kill Bill – does she count as proper? – and so on and so on.) I’m tempted, naturally, to make a list of other movies Jane Austen could be inserted into, for copyright-ambiguous fun and profit. The Matrix: Jane Austen Reloaded springs to mind.
What about Little Miss Sunshine Bennet? In this quirky romp, the Bennet family drives their falling-apart carriage from Hertfordshire all the way to London just so Mary can compete in a talent competition. Lydia isn’t talking because she wants to join the military [wink wink nudge nudge], and Mr. Collins dies en route, the dirty old man. I think it should do well.
Or, in Eleanor and Marianne’s Excellent Adventure, the two bodacious sisters set out on a time-traveling quest to find sweet rhyme and pure reason, which will save the future universe from annihilation by evil spamlords. Along the way, they pick up a fun set of characters, including Lady Gaga, Stephen Hawking, and Stephen Colbert, all of whom embarrass them immensely. Quite by accident, they do find true love and happiness. Barack Obama advises a gathering at Sir John Middleton’s to be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!
All of this is very jolly, but I would just like to point something out here. Readers, has or has not Austenacious had a Jane Austen Fight Club column for almost a year now?! Are we owed royalties on this video? Our legal team better get busy!
In the meantime, perhaps our loyal readers could make trailers for our other columns. What Would Jane Do? is clearly a sickeningly sweet romance in which a cynical advice columnist is saved by a long-lost love (probably by falling down a hill). Jane Austen Hates You is probably an indie comedy, possibly about YouTube, MySpace, and all them there Social Networking Sites, hopefully starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Ask Mrs. Fitzpatrick sounds like an Agatha Christie to me, and Quote Unquote is clearly the new Bond movie.
Readers, are you game? What other movies mesh well with Austen novels? Or mesh so terribly badly they just have to go?
P.S. Jane Austen’s Army of Darkness! Just saying. . .
Oh, Britain. What happened? You’ve done such a wonderful job, lately, of choosing leaders according to their ideals rather than their stunning good looks—sure, we know you thought Tony Blair was fit at the time, but the harsh light of day has dawned on that one, hasn’t it? And, well, there never were many illusions about Gordon Brown. But now…well. We never thought you’d be susceptible to our American brand of Kennedy fever, but it seems we were wrong: apparently Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg looks enough like Colin Firth’s Darcy to be extra-popular with the ladies, and—surprise!—the resemblance didn’t hurt him at the polls.
(To be fair, we call ‘logical error!’ on the assumption that Clegg’s way with the puffy shirt won him a spot in the unlikely coalition government—once the actual Firth involved himself, you see, it was all over. He’s the [hot] man behind the curtain. That‘s some smart party marketing!) (On the other hand, we salute the use of the phrase “bodice-ripping” in reference to an actual activity.)
Surely, though, Clegg isn’t the only world leader with a grain with an Austenian streak, right? To wit:
President Obama entertains the children via an Easter egg roll at his estate, the unspecifically named White House. Some suspect that his good nature does not accompany a discerning business sense, though he’s diplomatic in receiving a visit from a neighbor regarding five unmarried daughters, and attempts to smooth over difficult relations by allowing his rivals to plan balls at will—as long as there’s consensus.
Hillary Clinton, ever practical, settles for the State Department, which seems to know an awful lot about the furnishings at Rosings Park.
Angela Merkel, after dispatching her less accomplished rivals, ends up with the hottie of the neighborhood: Germany. Neighborhood gossips look on for signs of marital distress, but have little to go on—as long as nobody tries to touch her shoulders. Such a lady!
Nicolas Sarkozy lands a lady of great glamor and breeding, and with a lovely voice. And it’s a fine thing that gentlemen’s high heels are in fashion, is it not?
Readers, who are we missing?
And also, an announcement: Due to personal circumstances, Austenacious will be taking a short hiatus. Regular programming will return Thursday, May 27. Until then, drink some good tea and find some neighbors to mock, will you?
First of all…huh? This woman wants to dance with Obama/Darcy instead of a husband? Is this a War on Husbands? Yeah, man. HUSBANDS SUCK.
Second, what’s with people who use the men of Austen as a shorthand for exotic romantic heroes?
As I see it, there are two options here: either people who do this have not read Jane Austen, or they have read Jane Austen and then had their memories wiped by aliens. Take your pick.
It’s not that the Austen men aren’t romantic; they are. I think we can all (mostly) find common ground in the notion that our heroines’ love interests smolder on at least an occasional, private basis. But Jane is nothing if not consistent: nice guys finish first, and guys with wicked notions of sweeping ladies off their feet finish in disgrace (and, in my imagination, duels). Yes, Darcy scours the countryside in the dark of night, looking for Lydia and Wickham, but he does so because he cares for Lizzy, not because he’s into midnight scavenger hunts—and I wouldn’t call him “dashing” so much as “painfully awkward, yet rich.” Captain Wentworth is a sailor, but he’s been pining for nearly a decade and is ultimately just looking for some monogamy. Both Knightley and Henry Tilney like giving advice to the flighty. Colonel Brandon wears—wait for it—a flannel waistcoat! He’s practically Mr. Rogers! So: romantic, yes, but maybe not quite Romantic in the technical sense.
Furthermore, Jane warns us of the dangers of dashing young men to a degree that borders on silly: in each novel, any man who seems like fun from the get-go, is a hit with the ladies (on purpose), or otherwise seems too good to be true, gets pegged as a scoundrel—by Jane and by the reader, if not by the characters in the novel—at a hundred paces. In Jane’s world, sweeping the ladies off their feet (without a very impressive show of loyalty and/or self-sacrifice, at least) isn’t an indicator of hero status; it’s a giant red flag and a cue to go looking for the faithful guy on the sidelines.
Perhaps this is part of Jane’s point: the difference between romance—true romance—and being swept away by a good horseman with an eye for pretty hat ribbons. It doesn’t lend itself well to use in unthinking literary allusions, but then, Jane probably wouldn’t mind that so much.
So where does this leave us? With a grudging understanding that people don’t understand the difference between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Rhett Butler? With a campaign for public education on the actual, and not assumed, characters in Austen’s novels (please send poster ideas to missb at austenacious dot com)? With a call for a national discussion on the nature of romance? Or maybe just a polite request and a library card. I don’t know.
But if anybody starts equating the President to everybody’s favorite cousin/suitor, I’m writing my representative.