Monday 8 April 2013

Jane Austen on YouTube by Keren David

Last week felt a little empty. No sense of anticipation at 4.55pm on Monday and Thursday. No twitter feeds to check and recheck. No twitter chats with fellow author Zoe Marriott about the nuance, the romance, the drama of our latest fix.
Darcy and Lizzie play Darcy and Lizzie ...
If you felt similarly afflicted you’ll know what I’m talking about. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ended last week, a project that made me think anew about the future of books, television, story-telling in general.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, updated to the present day, re-located to California and told through social media. Lizzie has a video blog, posting twice a week for a year, so does her sister Lydia. Her other sister Jane posts on Pinterest, Lookbook and Tumblr. Almost every character  is on Twitter, even Kitty Bennet, who is a cat (a clever move, Kitty in the book does little except cough and stare).

 Later in the series there are videos from Georgiana Darcy (renamed Gigi) and most of the main characters make appearances in Lizzie’s vlogs, or are  played by other characters in scripted ‘costume dramas.’  In one of my favourite episodes Lizzie forces Darcy to act as himself.

Some people I know couldn’t get past the first few videos, and indeed didn't really get it at all (‘Some ghastly American woman  murdering Jane Austen,’  as one of my friends put it.) I resisted trying it out for a long time. But then I watched one video. And another. And then I watched 80 in one day, completely transfixed by the sheer cleverness, the inventiveness, the new insights and the performances – especially that of Mary-Kate Wiles as Lydia. And for the last ten weeks of the series I was hooked. A new video was posted and life stopped for the few minutes it took to watch. 

Hank Green (brother of the YA author John Green) and Bernie Su, creators of the LBD Diaries are planning a spin off, in which GG Darcy goes to Sanditon. They're raising funds to bring out the LBD dvd and talking about adapting other classics. 

Some UK authors create twitter accounts for their characters, some write blogs in their names. Some make film trailers for their books, others  sell film, television or theatre rights and may be lucky enough to see their work performed. In the meantime there’s a boom in UK vloggers, building up big audiences for their films on YouTube. As the mother of two teenagers I can confirm that YouTube is big right now, with kids seeking out vloggers to follow.
When will we see a British LBD? If they can take on Austen, why can’t we nab The Great Gatsby? Or how about  adapting out own books for YouTube?  I've seen the future and I think that Jane Austen would approve. 


Penny Dolan said...

Haven't yet seen the Diaries, so thank you for highlighting this.

I read a piece in the Guardian about the wide use and creation of YouTube vlogs etc by young people.

Sounds as if the future could be positively interesting!

Abbeybufo said...

Recently read Lydia Bennet's Blog: the real story of Pride and Prejudice - as recommended by another writer ... scurrilous take from Lydia's p.o.v. Great fun :)