Do you ever wonder whether or not (if you have children) your children will grow up to be like you at all—in personality and tastes? I’ve always feared I would have a kid who uses bad grammar, hates reading, and loves the Yankees. One can only hope some of the things we love can be passed on and shared. Recently, one of my girlfriends introduced her 11-year-old daughter to Jane Austen. Here’s a compilation of our FB conversations.
Mrs. Light: To counteract Mr. Light’s ST:TNG summer marathon, I started Mags on Jane Austen movies. Mansfield Park was first—loved it…then Sense and Sensibility, then Emma. Now we are 3 episodes into P&P…she’s addicted. Last night it took away the night-before-school-start jitters. All she could say was, “Darcy is a jerk! Can we watch another tomorrow?” She tried to read Sense at the beginning of the summer. I think seeing the movie will ease the language for her.
Miss Osborne: That’s terrific! And yes, Darcy is a total jerk…in the beginning…
Mr. Light: No! THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!!!!!
Miss Osborne: I heard there were 5 lights.
Mrs. Light: Tonight it all changed…@ Pemberley. Episode 4: I could see it in Mag’s face…suddenly Darcy’s lookin’ good…
Miss Osborne: I think you’ll need to also do a viewing of the short movie with Matthew MacFadyen…just to see what her thoughts are on a different version of P&P.
Miss Osborne: And yes, who wouldn’t be impressed with Pemberley? (“Does the young lady know the master?”)
Mrs. Light: I couldn’t accept him…too sad looking and altho greater in stature than Firth, no where near as grand…or SEX-SAAAAAAA!
Miss Osborne: I like MacFadyen from the early years of MI-5, but clearly he’s no match for HisRoyalFirthyGoodness.
Mrs. Light: I think Firthy has a permanent Darcy-shaped corner in an incalculable number of women’s hearts.
Mrs. Light: Add one 11-year-old girl’s.
Miss Osborne: Inquiring minds want to know…what does Mags think of the massive Regency sideburns?
Mrs. Light: After Mansfield (which was the fashion shock), she laughed a bit at Sense and the sideburns. Had to get over Snape being Colonel Brandon—and me swooning over him. By Emma, she was used to the hair—and the weird man pants and the bonnets. If anything she is starting to say which dresses are pretty and which aren’t.
Mrs. Light: I think Firthy has won her heart.
Miss Osborne: I just LOVE it! When she’s old enough, she should see Truly Madly Deeply to see Alan Rickman in a romantic role. (Tho, of course, I love him in Die Hard and that stupid Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, too.)
Mrs. Light: If I were Maid Marion, I would have pillaged the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Miss Osborne: Hahahaha! Dirty.
Mrs. Light: Oh! And she is already dissecting Jane’s plot construction and making predictions based on what she knows of how she writes about society…I may explode with joy!
Mrs. Light: It’s fabulous to hear her say, “Please…one more episode!”
Mrs. Light: We watched the rest of P&P yesterday, picking up back at the inn at Lambton when Darcy brings Georgiana to meet Lizzy. Mags was done—cooked—totally smitten with Mr D. All of the gazing back and forth…I’m so happy that this is her introduction to what “romance” is. (Yeah yeah…I know I won’t being hearing from Gloria Steinem.) Mags was outraged by Lydia running off with Wickham. Brighton must have been the Jersey Shore of it’s day, and Lydia is Snookie. It all unwinds too quickly at the end. We both longed to savor the moments when Lizzy concedes her love for Darcy. The final stroll when she tells him…Mags said, “They didn’t kiss! When are they gonna kiss!?” Then they do, and it’s over, and she said “NOOOOOO! It can’t be over! What happens next? I want to see what else happens to them!” Don’t we all?
And there you have it…one girl’s introduction to the world of Jane Austen!
Editor’s Note: I (heart) Star Trek and all of it’s incarnations. (Well, except for Enterprise because it was dumb.) The contents of this conversation by no means represents any mockery of Mr. Light’s scifi choices. Mr. and Mrs. Light took me to my very first Star Trek convention, and for that I will forever be grateful.
Photo Credit: Image borrowed from Read Jane.
Readers: now that the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film is effectively dead—insert the walking-dead joke of your choice here—surely serious discussions are at hand. Since, as we all know, there’s a universal minimum for period pieces in the works at any given time (no fewer than three; more if you can find a swanky-looking estate in the rentals section of Craigslist), retribution must be made! Who will buy all those empire-waist dresses and period boots, if not us? Who will fuel the muttonchops craze, if we will not fuel the muttonchops craze? Who will keep an eye on the happy endings, if we don’t keep the genteel romance mill churning?
Considering this sudden omission, and realizing the significance of Austen adaptations to the cosmic equilibrium, we ask you: What Austen or Austen-related film would you see made instead? Who would you cast, and why? And, most importantly, would you include the monsters?
Let’s hear it, readers.
Gentle readers, you must know that in matters of SCIENCE!, the ladies of Austenacious consider themselves your humble servants. No matter of intellectual integrity is too arcane for the eyes and ears of your beloved sisters; no necessary course of field research is too grueling for the hitching up of hems and the donning of proper footwear. When it comes to the codification of Jane for the collective Austenacious consciousness, we’re here for you.
And so on the key tenet of single men, their fortunes, and their want of wives, we have gone to bat for you: we have ventured into that native land of (many) single men—WonderCon 2010—and communed with the population at hand. We have gotten answers. We have gotten the truth.
And in that spirit, we introduce the first film from Austenacious Films, A Truth Universally Acknowledged.
With all due respect: Yes, it is. If it’s a faithful adaptation of Emma, it’s primarily from the female perspective. It’s about a woman who mostly sticks her nose into other women’s lives. Those women respond, or don’t. Women! Women everywhere! Definitely lady-centric.
Listen. I get it. I know that men don’t generally go to “women’s” movies, though nobody seems to mind taking my lady-dollars when I go see Vin Diesel do his thing. I know that, from a marketing perspective, you and your studio might prefer to step away from the looming Chick Flick label—after all, it’s not like “chicks” have any money, or like to spend time at the theater, or eat concessions, or bring their friends (who, remember, also have no money) along.
But denying the prevalence of women in your film isn’t helping. It’s one thing to emphasize the ways in which Aisha, or Emma, might appeal universally—to say that women aren’t the only ones who find themselves wrong, and that women aren’t the only ones who fall in love, and that the experiences of a fictional woman might still be of interest to those who aren’t women, just as the experiences of a fictional men can certainly be of interest to those who aren’t men. But to say “this movie isn’t about women, so you should come and see it” plays into the exact logical loophole you’re trying to avoid. I think what you want to say is, “This movie is about a woman, and it has characters and a plot, just like man movies!” Or, “This movie is about a woman, but you don’t have to show your Girl Card at the door!” Or maybe just, “This movie is about a woman. Come on in.”