Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I promise I won't mention this again...

...but I just have to include the recent comments by Mags over at AustenBlog regarding crappy Jane Austen adaptations, because I agree with her 100%. And I don't just love her because she calls Lost in Austen "dopey" and refers to the last episode as "goodbye, cruel fanfic."

(This is in response to Seducing Mr. Darcy, but also, I think, by Lost in Austen):

...we are of the opinion that these extraneous items should not be accepted just as they are, like Bridget Jones running through London in her knickers. Each should be judged and criticized on its individual merits. Every Janeite is not going to agree on the quality of a particular book or film or action figure, and some may wish to have nothing to do with them at all, but there is no reason to condemn them on general principles; but at the same time, we are impatient with the idea that “it’s not really Jane Austen so if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Just because one doesn’t like a particular book, that does not mean one must dislike them all, and just because we are critical of certain projects doesn’t mean we are toffee-nosed snobs who can’t abide any of it. We just like quality. Perhaps our notions of quality are different from other Janeites’.

I guess I shouldn't say I hate all Jane Austen spin-offs and homages on principle. Just awful ones.

The Austen diaspora is in a weird place when it comes to these ancillary items, and it is reflected in the either-or attitude. The Brontëans don’t hold their noses when they read Wide Sargasso Sea and the Shakespeare folks don’t freak out over A Thousand Acres or The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (at least we don’t think they do; feel free to disabuse us of our mistaken notions). But the Austen fandom hasn’t really had a Wide Sargasso Sea or A Thousand Acres or The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

There we are! See, I'd enjoy a good Austen spin-off. Keyword: good.

...there is a tendency in some quarters to fall into another easy place of “I liked this movie with pretty people in nice costumes so I am going to like this other movie with pretty people in nice costumes, even if the plot has been manipulated so much that it no longer makes sense and it’s so cheaply done that one can see the metaphorical zipper on the back of the monster’s costume.”

*cough*lostinaustenfans*cough*

...we don’t think we’re doing ourselves or our fellow Janeites a favor by supporting projects uncritically. If we keep watching and reading and buying, The Powers That Be know we’ll take anything, and they don’t have to try very hard or spend much money or offer us the very top quality items. If, perhaps, we are critical of the lesser-quality items, if we maybe vote with our feet and our voices, we’ll get something better. Perhaps. Would it hurt to try?

That, my dear readers, is how I feel about literature as a whole.

3 comments:

Mags said...

Thanks for the kind comments! But if the auxiliary Austen stuff isn't your cup of tea, then it isn't your cup of tea. I don't want to force anyone to try something that simply isn't to their taste. Life's too short and there are too many really good books out there. The problem with a lot of the bad projects is that they COULD be pretty good with some adjustments. Unfortunately the perpetrators are too lazy or cheap or ignorant to perform the improvements. And that's the problem right there. If you're going to do it, do it right. Spend time and spend money and swallow your pride and take the criticism of your "baby" and do what you have to do to get it right. I'd also like to see better quality and less quantity, but that's a pretty hopeless pipe dream right there. ;-)

KJH said...

Well said, again! I think quality over quantity is key. And at the risk of sounding gushy, I really enjoyed your book. Maybe *you* should consider writing something of quality.

KJH said...

Oh dear, I realized that the last statement sounds like your first book wasn't quality! What I meant was that if anyone could tackle the paraliterature and get it right, it would be you.