This week’s most-mocked literary utterance came from explainer site Vox.com, in a tweet linking back to an admittedly cool-looking trailer for upcoming mash-up film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The tweet, suggesting that Austen’s classic needed a “feminist spin” that zombies could provide, suffered from an unfortunate choice of words that reeked of Internet-friendly feminism-lite, a mindset which assumes that a brilliantly subtle look at domestic life is somehow less feminist than ass-kicking zombie slayers.
Needless to say, Twitter denizens had a field day.
Of course, Vox was merely promoting an excited post about the trailer (which indeed looks good, says this diehard Janeite purist). So, yes, let he or she who hasn’t tweeted something regrettable cast the first stone.
Still, the idea was too delightful to leave alone. So we thought we’d run with the concept and come up with some contemporary “feminist spins” on classic literature that would benefit from a little livening up, 2015 style. Hollywood, give me a call! I’m waiting.
Lady Macbeth, Man-Killer
Lady Macbeth may be a bad bitch, but she just doesn’t do enough killing. Let’s make Macbeth more feminist by having her be like Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies. She should stab the fuck out of Duncan, to start with, and dispatch Banquo’s ghost with some well-placed kicks. And in the end, instead of being mired in suicide, regret, and bloody delusion-inspired insomnia, let her go down swinging and end with her head paraded on a spike. Furiosa, meet your match.
Jane Eyre and the Dragons
Jane Eyre runs away so she can spend time facing starvation and hanging out with boring Christian cousins? No way. In this adaptation, we bring her back, Khaleesi style, with an army, a midriff-baring outfit, and three awesome dragons. She and her minions and the flaming beasts lay siege to Thornfield and starve out everyone who was complicit in her deception. Then, she sets the fire herself. And psst: Does the castration of Rochester have to be metaphor, or can it be the real thing? Either way, bloody revenge is totally giving this novel a fire-breathing feminist boost.
The Sex Awakening
Yes, this Kate Chopin novel is about Edna Pontellier’s social and sexual awakening, but what if instead of getting so sad about not being able to be with her lover and be herself, she just moves on from him, bangs lots of guys, and feels great about it because she is the queen of #sexpositivity? In the end, instead of forlornly surrendering her body to the ocean, she opens a sex shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter, where her French-cruller garters become famously known as “Edna’s Edibles.”
The Wife of Bath and Witches
This tale concerns a rapist-knight who discovers, after a long quest, that what women want most is to rule over their husbands and then happily marries a hag. This is a nice, strong, misandrist start, but it really needs more action. My suggestion is that we add a little witch action, since people in the Middle Ages loved them some witches. At the end of this film, the hag and Queen Guinevere get together with their covens and dance in circles around all the men, chanting awesome spells and turning them into handsome princes who go on a quest to slay the patriarchy. Then the powerful witches defy reality and jump right out of the text, break the fourth wall, and cast their spell right on Chaucer — because he too was a rapist. Suddenly, The Canterbury Tales are replaced by The Can’t-Bury-Her Tales, obliterating literature’s phallic obsession. The Western canon is changed forever.
The Kung-Fu Color Purple
Looking at the source material, I’m dubious about the arrangement at the end wherein Celie and Sugg are living together in harmony with (gasp!) men. This story needs a little more misandry. Before Nettie comes back from missionary work in Africa, she stops in Japan on her journey and spends time learning kung fu, which she will teach to the women of the community. They will then use their newfound skills to kill all remaining men.
Fun Sorority Home
Alison Bechdel’s pioneering graphic novel about sexuality and family is too quiet to be a feminist movie. Let’s spice up Alison’s college experience and give her an amazing group of gorgeous lesbian pals who are also in a sorority and an a cappella group. They will throw awesomely wild parties, get bummed about stuff such as their love lives, suicidal closeted dads, embalming fluid mishaps, and other ups and downs of being a Late Teen, and then sing about it, all with no instruments but tons of beatboxing and amazing choreography. Things will definitely come to a head at the big, end-of-year a cappella jam, when they go up against the all-male group, the Tone Deafs — and ether them, of course.
A Vampire-Slaying Vindication of the Rights of Women
Mary Wollstonecraft’s foundational text lacks real feminist bite. In our version, Wollstonecraft actually vindicates the rights of women because — in a shocking twist — all men of her time are actually vampires, and she is the only slayer. Using a stake scrawled with her brilliant manifesto, she obliterates the incubi and avenges her sisters. Enlightenment thought plus blood in the streets is a surefire hit with the target demographic.