I’d like to take this blog to talk about one particularly annoying mini-series - Lost in Austen. As soon as I figured out that the premise of this film was that a bumbling moron was going to replace Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, I knew it was time for me to go. Personally, I am sick to death of Pride and Prejudice without adding more idiotic characters and truly, if we’re going to mess with Jane Austen’s done-to-death plot we may as well add 30% more zombies.
If Pride and Prejudice had a copyright in place, something like this would be out of the question. However, since Jane Austen’s dead—
“Zombie! Get the elephant gun!”
Okay, forget that little outburst. Since she’s as dead as whatever copyright she had – anyone can make over her novel however they want – purchase their own copyright and boom – they’re making money for a minimal creative effort.
Once again, if Pride and Prejudice had a current copyright, the writer of Lost in Austen would be sitting back counting their reviews on fanfiction.net – or the lack thereof. The scenario presented in Lost in Austen is what us fanfiction gurus call a self-insertion. This is when you write up a plot based on your favourite existing fandom and place yourself in the middle of the action. Whether you remove an existing character to compensate is up to you. These are not very popular and it’s easy to see why. Can’t you just see me sitting back going, “Man, I’d love to re-read Harry Potter but instead of chowing down on the original books, I’m going to go read some cheap imitation online with Harry replaced by Johnny Nobody who had nothing better to do with his Saturday night.” Can you taste the mouthwatering appeal for authors and the total disinterest for readers? I can. How boring.
The thing that’s so ultimately painful is that the fantasy is so … undesirable. If you’re going to sit down and fantasize about being romanced by Mr. Darcy wouldn’t you rather be quirky, willful, unexplainably intelligent Elizabeth Bennett, and not a vulgar London girl who yanks up her drawers to show off her landing strip when she thinks she’s got a camera on her? Classy.
It might seem surprising, but I’m not actually writing this in defense of Jane Austen’s copyright. What I’m complaining about is the lack of creativity. As a creatively minded person, I believe that it is impossible to start from scratch. We have to work off each other to come up with the best ideas. The secret is coming up with something daring, reaching – something that awakens nostalgic sensations within as well as makes cracks in our consciousness so that suddenly we believe that anything might be possible. Anything might be true.
The truth is that I feel sorry for an audience that doesn’t demand more.
“Rat soup! Again rat soup! At least she could use a different rat, the third night anyway.” -- The Last Unicorn