Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other

I decided to give Jane Austen's Emma a try because of Clueless. Well, more accurately, I needed a Classic Romance for the Classics Challenge and THEN I picked Emma because of Clueless. I want to mention this right up front: I liked Clueless better. But hear me out.

If you're a semi-regular reader of this blog (or if you read my little About Me blurb) you'll know that contemporary fiction is my jam. But I really need to expand my reading beyond books that have been written since I was born.* Hence one of the reasons I signed up for the Classics Challenge. Sometimes I can get into the groove of different writing styles easily and sometimes it always stands between me and the story. The Woman in White was fine and I was on the edge of my seat during Marian the Ninja scenes. With Emma I could never get into the story. Maybe because it's less of a thriller, less sensational but I often found my mind wandering while I was supposed to be paying attention. I would say that I just can't do Austen, there's something about her style that keeps me at a distance from the story, but I was sucked into Pride and Prejudice no problem.

I can't decide if knowing about the Clueless connection helped or hurt. Because I did spend a lot of time figuring out who was who, which scene from the book matched up to the movie, etc. Maybe the book would have been better if I didn't do that. But then again, it was fun to do that so I don't care too much.

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed a recent Tweet about a certain DVD I received. I realized the only copy of Clueless I owned was on VHS which is cute of me and all, but sort of useless. So I bought a dual DVD Clueless and Mean Girls and then made Boyfriend watch Clueless with me the other day because can you believe he'd never seen it??? This is why he needs me. I was very happy to see that the movie is as awesome as I remembered it.

So instead of actually reviewing Emma which I've been trying to do for days but have been failing, I've decided to talk about how Clueless relates to Emma which means I can spend a bunch of time talking about the movie instead. So this will be sort of spoilery, but really, you should already be familiar with Clueless.
Clueless and Emma or a bunch of connections you probably already know about if you've seen/read both of these, but that I'm going to write out anyway like I made some big discovery
Cher is a great Emma. She's narcissistic and shallow and yet still likeable. Likeable even though you know you probably shouldn't like her. Maybe because she's not outright cruel to anyone and she really believes she's being kind. And look how nice they are to their fathers.

Tai is an adorable Harriet. Unsophisticated in a world where status means so much. She desperately wants to be liked and is so smitten with Emma/Cher that she goes against her own feelings for Mr. Martin/Travis. She's like a lost puppy.

Josh makes such a perfect Mr. Knightly. And they kept that whole "he's sorta family, but not blood so it's not hillbilly" angle. The relationship still strikes me as sorta weird in the movie but I accept it because I love Paul Rudd. And that scene at that party where the Bosstones** are playing and he dances with Tai after no one will dance with her. JUST LIKE IN EMMA where Mr. Elton is a douche to her and won't dance with her even though he totally should have for reasons I don't totally understand because I don't really understand Regency propriety.

Elton is the best Mr. Elton. He's such a douche-nozzle in both. He's a super snob and sort of date rapey (in an Austen/PG-13 way). Plus I never understood why Elton would keep a picture of Tai in his locker just because Cher took the picture. BUT Mr. Elton kept the picture because Emma painted/drew it. And that makes way more sense. So I appreciate that detail of the movie, even if it was sort of stupid and not very logical.

How clever is the Christian/Frank Churchill thing? Now since I saw the movie first I was wondering how the hell they were going to make a character unavailable to Emma because he's gay and Austen doesn't seem quite progressive enough to include a homosexual character. And if she did I'm pretty sure that's the only thing I'd know about her. How smart was it to take a character that was secretly engaged (which wouldn't have worked in a teen comedy) and make him gay instead? He can flirt with Cher without it meaning anything, at least to him.

Now I didn't think the Mel Horowitz/Mr Woodhouse thing really matched up as well as the other characters here, but that's OK because I can't picture it working out any differently. Can you imagine a Mr. Woodhouse that is as much of a pitbull as Mel the litigator (the "scariest kind of lawyer")? At the same time, a hypochondriac Mel would never have worked. Or maybe it would have but I loved Cher's father's character so much I don't want him to be anything different. And in both cases the affection Cher has for her father comes through.
That is the end of the book/movie stuff.
So I prefer the movie to the book. I wanted to like the book more. But I just couldn't stay in the story. I kept getting distracted by literally anything else around me. I should probably give the story another chance but really it was eh.

Also another Classics Challenge book down!

*I also need to read less white people from the US or UK. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
**This note doesn't really add to the post, but I just like the Bosstones and this was the first time I heard them. Also I'm still convinced the dancing guy Ben Carr in the band was blackmailing the other members to let him be in the group and just do his dances. Now they are sweet dance moves, but really? That's all he does.

Title quote from page 70, location 1055

Austen, Jane. Emma. Public Domain Books, 2006. Oringally published 1816. Kindle edition.