Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dirtbags: go look in the mirror!




DIRTBAG LITTLE WOMEN


MEG: Jo

what are you doing in Father’s office

all the time?

[JO kicks her steel-toed boots

onto the desk]

JO: writin smut

wanna read it

MEG: …yes



MEG: all right

we’re off to the play with

Laurie

JO: don’t wait up

AMY: can I come too?

JO: don’t be ridiculous

AMY [whispering]: I’m going to burn what you

love and marry your boyfriend

JO: what

AMY: have such a fun time

at the play



[MEG runs into the room]

MEG: I’m getting married!

BETH: Congratulations!

AMY: Congratulations!

(JO is idly poking at the ashes in the

fireplace]

MEG: Jo, did you hear me? Mr. Brooke

proposed to me and I accepted him!

[JO draws a dick in the ashes]

JO: I heard you





JO: has anyone seen

my manuscript

MEG: no

BETH: no

AMY: no

saw a fire that looked an awful

lot like your manuscript though


[The girls are ice skating on

the pond]

AMY: i’m tired

i’m tired and this sucks

winter sucks

take me home

[Amy falls through the ice]

AMY: HELP ME

JO: sorry

cant hear you

AMY: CHRIST I’M DROWNING

JO: let me know if you see my manuscript

down there






[JO skateboards over LAURIE's head]

JO: I got your note

you’re not my boyfriend



JO: I got a haircut

what do you think

AMY: oh, Jo!

how could you

your one beauty



[JO climbs into AMY's room late one night

and begins to shave her head]

JO [whispering]: Oh, no, Amy

how could you?

your one beauty

[JO draws a mustache under AMY's nose]



AMY: who did this

JO: who did what

AMY: THIS

JO: you dont look any different to me







LAURIE: oh, Jo

please marry me

JO: no

LAURIE: but why

[JO strikes a match on LAURIE's chin and

lights her cigar with it]

JO: because that’s exactly what they’ll be

expecting

LAURIE: who is ‘they’?

[JO slowly rollerblades offscreen without

replying]



MEG: Beth is dead!

JO: Oh, my God.

MARMEE: No, no –

AMY: can I have her room

MEG: Oh, my God.

AMY: sorry

may I have her room





I want to tell you exactly why I find this so sickening.


I found it, of course, on Facebook. All the comments

were screamingly positive. Everyone found it hilariously

funny, irreverant, etc. etc.The implication was, if you don't

find it funny you're un-hip,probably old, and don't

understand contemporary satire.


When it comes to satire, I've seen piles of horseshit

that are funnier and wittier than this. This thing sends up one

of my favorite books from girlhood, a book that has been

made into a movie at least three times (most recently with

Winona Ryder as Jo, an unlikely choice - but hey,

we also have the very dishy Gabriel Byrne as her love

interest, Professor Bhaer).


Aside from my horse stories, this was my favorite

book in childhood. Like Anne of Green Gables, Little

Women was set in another time, an era when people made

their own entertainment and pleasures were simpler.

While waiting for their sainted father to return from the Civil

War, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy took part in boisterous yet

highly literate activities such as the Pickwick

Club, which implied they all knew how to read. (The

screamers here probably don't get much farther than

Cosmopolitan.) The characters were well-developed, and in spite

of the quaint setting and manners, all believably human. How do I

know this? After seeing the June Allyson version on TCM, I recently

downloaded the manuscript from Gutenberg and read it again.





This is a very well-written book, with shades and

nuances beyond anything you see in children's literature

today. In a way, it's far too good for girls. The people making

these vulgar comments (yes, vulgar, though I could use a worse

term) probably have not read Little Women at all, but have

only seen the latest movie version. Even in the 1960s, which

seem like a great literary flowering compared to the scorched

earth of today, there were many references that sailed over my

head, such as Apollyon and Vanity Fair (NOT the magazine!).

These were references to John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress:

not a jolly book by our standards, but a classic with great literary

depth. Meaning: intellectual depth, which seems to have

virtually vanished in today's shallow and virtually illiterate world.



Much is made of the feminist nature of Jo March's matriarchal

household (which is loosely based on Louisa May Alcott's

unconventional upbringing),

and while Marmee does insist her girls be educated

(apparently, by an early form of home-schooling, or they surely

would not be reading John Bunyan), she also tutors them on the

value of never speaking when angry. In fact, when very angry,

women were expected to leave the room, a baffling instruction

in a day when everyone speaks their mind even if they don't

have one.





Though I can see where it's coming from - I'm not THAT much

of a fossil - Dirtbag Little Women is not a funny piece. It is lousy

satire, without even a glimmer of originality or wit.We won't

even get into the implied lesbian stereotypes embodied by the

butch-ish Jo.True satire has an underlying respect for its

"target", which adds an extra dimension, somehow makes

it funnier. It isn't just primitive spitting, mocking and throwing

mud and shit at a classic that millions of people once cherished,

loved and learned from.


In short, this is a cheap shot.


I don't even know if girls read Little Women any more.

They are much more likely to read the scummyand unfunny

Dirtbag version, which is both sad and shocking.

I'm not saying we should adhere to the quaint morals of the

Civil War era, in which even the most liberated family adhered

to a strict moral code we can never understand. But can't we

keep a modicum of respect for writing of this depth, writing

that until recently has stood the test of time? Is it all getting lost?


What is wrong with these people? Why do I feel so alone in this,

why does everyone shriek and guffaw their approval in the

comments? "OMG, ROTFL, I HATED this book and I'm so

glad you fucking trashed it." Some of us aren't so glad.

It dismays me, not so much

that someone would rip this thing into bleeding pieces but that

the jackals of conformity would so quickly swarm the carcass,

eager to display their hipness with their shrieking

and jeering.





I used to think human beings were herd animals,

but now I realize they flock like chickens or even run in packs,

as surely as jackals or wolves.Almost no one has any individual

courage any more. It makes me sick and fills me with despair.

Sure, go ahead and eviscerate a classic, make it "hip" and "funny"

and distance yourself in the most cowardly manner possible.

That way, you won't even have to form a real opinion.

Pack animals don't have to think: in fact, in the

grand scheme of things, it's better if they don't. It's

one of the immutable facts of nature. Don't think for yourself.

Don't even THINK of thinking for yourself. Just follow the leader.



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