I don’t know if it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a box set of Austen novels must pass on her love of Pride and Prejudice to her children, but it was certainly true in my family.
• Information about yet another NSA surveillance program, XKeyscore, has come to light. NSA training materials for the program claim that it covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet." [The Guardian]
200 years ago, on January 28, 1813, Jane Austen published what would become her most celebrated and widely read novel, Pride and Prejudice. The story of Elizabeth Bennet, whose fate hangs in the balance because she lacks a large dowry and whose family estate is entailed—i.e., can only be inherited by a male relation—is not only loved on its own behalf, but has also inspired countless adaptations and spin-offs. From The Lizzie Bennet Diaries to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, from the BBC miniseries that famously featured Colin Firth in a sopping-wet shirt to Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfayden getting passionately drenched in the rain (love is so messy!) to Bride and Prejudice and its Bollywood dance-floor moves, the novel has been open to a wide array of interpretations.
Welcome to the first proper installment of RetroPop! A blog in which I, your humble guest writer, bring together my loves for the Billboard Hot 100 and bodacious bits from female artists of the past. It's all based on my argument that lady-related pop messages of today are no less worthy than pop messages from the canon of women artists throughout history, and that by comparing them a bit maybe we can have some fun and give today's female pop stars a bit more cred in the process. (Possibly making us "thinking girls" feel less guilty about bustin' a move to Beyoncé? Added benefit.)
Today, in this first true demonstration of the RetroPop mashup style, we'll take a look at some parallels between Carly Rae Jepsen's dancelicious song of the summer, "Call Me Maybe," and my favorite Jane Austen novel, good old Pride & Prejudice (P&P).
The world's biggest flirt has triumphed over a social revolutionary on the pop charts: Carly Rae Jepsen and her flouncy seven-week chart topper "Call Me Maybe" finally unseated Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" as the longest-running number one single for a female singer with the Interscope label.
Flirty summer fun winning out over social comment, according to the dollars we are paying for the music they are making, means something. And yet, since this ideological overthrow was executed in the arena of pop music, the philosophical shift our iTunes purchases are fueling is not being discussed in the same way it might be if we were talking instead about domestic themes culled from the latest Jennifer Egan book or other pieces of more "worthy" art.
So what if we worthified the Top 40 by considering it alongside thoughts and arguments from great women writers of the past? What if we made explicit connections between the music of Kelly Clarkson and the oeuvre of Charlotte Bronte? What if we could talk about the contrasts between Adele and Emily Dickinson?
Welcome to my new guest blog, RetroPop, where the messages from today's biggest female-created pop tunes are played right next to those of rockin' and respected female artists from the past—and where dancing while blogging is highly encouraged.
Jane Austen has quite the hold over the contemporary imagination. Not only are her books still bestsellers almost 200 years after her death, but there's a veritable industry around adapting and appropriating her work. From The Jane Austen Book Club to Jane Austen's Fight Club, Miss Austen's influence reaches more widely than ever. So how did these books about young women searching for eligible gentlemen in the English countryside get to be so popular?
There's only one good reason to add blatant ableism to not one but two Jane Austen monster mashups: Because you know that the audience will appreciate and enjoy it. I certainly wouldn't accuse either Grahame-Smith or Winters of vast cultural sensitivity, not least because of the horrific racism which runs rampant across the pages of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, so I think it's fairly clear that the ableism was not introduced in an attempt to be wry. It was added because, quite simply, the authors thought it was funny.
The past two weeks have been chock full of news about upcoming genre-bending film adaptations of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet slaying zombies! Mr. Darcy doing combat with Predator! Highbrow time travel! Yes!