Nowadays culture can easily be (re)created and distributed from the comfort of your bedroom or just about anywhere.
There are so many reproductions and appropriations of literature out there that it can be hard to sift through it all and find the gems. I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that, in Western culture, the next most reproduced author after Shakespeare is Jane Austen.
In a class I had this week, we got on to the topic of fan fiction, which reminded me about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a vlog that a friend had recommended to me. The other night, I finally got around to watching them, all 100 Youtube videos in one night.
Any Austen fan (or Darcyphile, if you will) would have undoubtedly guessed (or have already seen- I’m late onto the bandwagon) that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The LBDs retell the story of the novel but are set in 21st century California.
This vlog works on several levels. The most important is how well the three Bennet sisters, Lizzie, Jane and Lydia, as well as Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte are scripted. The girls have a lot of chemistry and their interactions are well placed and, on the whole, fairly believable. What about the other two Bennets, you ask? In this series, Mary is the Bennets’ emo cousin and Kitty is Lydia’s kitten, which apparently follows her everywhere and yet is never on screen. I found that quite annoying actually. There were jokes made about internet cats but there was a definite lack of cats in the series, like the idea of turning Kitty’s character into a cat was included as an afterthought, purely to appease the fans.
The only other thing that really disappointed me with the series was that it wasn’t “authentic” fan fiction. The LBDs is a professional production and even though I was hoping that these vlogs were written and produced, as well as acted by a group of friends, who are somehow all incredibly beautiful and were just doing it for fun, it is not so.
I can forgive that though, because it is just so good. The casting of Ashley Clements, Laura Spencer and Mary Kate Wiles as Lizzie, Jane and Lydia respectively is perfect, as is the casting of pretty much everyone else. However, don’t start thinking that Daniel Vincent Gordh as William Darcy (I’m guessing that not many Americans would have been terribly enchanted by a hero named Fitzwilliam) is the best Darcy I”ve ever seen. Gordh plays the athletic yet socially awkward, super rich snob really well but is just not as sexy as he should be. Sorry not sorry for bringing down the tone of the piece. As much as Pride and Prejudice is a social satire, Darcy is supposed to be the most handsome and eventually most endearing character in the story.
It’s not necessarily Gordh’s fault. The first problem is that the supporting actors playing Bing Lee (Mr Bingley) and George Wickham are mega-babes. The second is that the bar has been set way too high for years. As far as being smoulderingly brooding whilst still being uptight goes, Colin Firth in the BBC miniseries holds that title, and should keep it for the foreseeable future.