If Women Talked About Pride and Prejudice the Way Men Talk About Blade Runner

|Veda Lawrence|

Sean Young as Rachael, a light-skinned woman with dark, made-up hair, wearing bright-red lipstick and nail polish, is encircled in a cloud of smoke from the cigarette she holds in her fingers while gazing into the camera.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut plays at the Trylon Cinema from Sunday, January 14th, through Tuesday, January 16th. Visit trylon.org for tickets and more information.

Our unsuspecting man will be minding his own business, drinking a lackluster old fashioned at the bar, reading a book, likely taking a day off of his more literary endeavors and winding down with some fluff, perhaps Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or some other light, beachy read. 

Just then, his peace will be disturbed, as a woman sits down beside him, herself bookless. She has been staring at him for a long time, while he has been pretending not to notice. She will ask him what he is reading, then ask if he reads real books. She will not give him time to answer, but rather will ask, “Have you seen the 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring Keira Knightley?”

Regardless of what he says, she will take it as an invitation to launch into her monologue. First, she will begin by explaining how everyone knows the 2005 version, and that’s fine and it has its merits, but people who really understood the book actually prefer the BBC miniseries. Our poor man will wistfully stare into the distance, wondering if she even cares about the extended unicorn dream in Blade Runner. Talk about a multiplicity of adaptations! As she talks about how masterful works inspire a myriad of adaptations, he thinks of the original theatrical release, devoid of the action sequences of the international version, the director’s cut that Ridley had little say over, and the “real” director’s cut of 2007. Ahh, The Final Cut…the best of all adaptations, replete with every scene, from the unicorn to the voiceover, to the action sequences…But no matter how much he wishes to gush about the beauty of The Final Cut, he recognizes how obnoxious it would be to emulate this woman, cornering unsuspecting women at bars and subjecting them to a monologue describing the magnificence of every single detail of the blessed work.

An origami unicorn made of gum wrap

He is divested of his Blade Runner daydreams and realizes she is now prattling about how the real value of the BBC miniseries is that while it may lack the cinematographic appeal of the 2005 version, is that it really captures the essence of Austen’s dialogue. “You see,” she will say, “If you’d read the book, you’d understand that Austen’s real talent lies in her dialogue–she is able to write conversations that you’d hear in real life! I think you could maybe understand this if you tried reading some truly good prose I see you’re reading Dick. Eh, his ideas are good but his prose is just garbage. It’s so cute when men try to look smart by reading.”

He will try to interject with some comments about how he thinks Austen was making some really cutting commentary about class relations. Plus, Dick is following in the great male tradition of Hemingway! Brevity is in! So what if his prose is utilitarian and inelegant? Is there not a sort of rough-hewn beauty in that? Alas, even invoking a Dorothy Parker comparison will fall on deaf ears, as this woman simply refuses to recognize the stoic fortitude of lad lit. 

“But of course,” she will say, “that is quite literally the point of the book, anyone reading it could pick that up. Besides, what Austen is doing here is really much more complex than Dick—the reason it was so easy to adapt Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into such a quaint film is that his writing was so formulaic that there wasn’t anything literary that had to be transposed into the film. You can’t really put Austen’s witty way of describing her characters into film, that’s really just a mark of her literary genius. The thing you don’t understand is that really high-level literature will never be the same in a movie. In Blade Runner, all Scott does is take the bare bones concept that Dick laid out for him and embellish it with some flashing lights and adept color correction. Really, in every version of Blade Runner we are able to get Dick’s point, but with Pride and Prejudice, no version (and I am including Bridgit Jones here!) even comes close to capturing the full extent of her genius.”     

“The thing you don’t understand about Pride and Prejudice,” she will say, “is just how much of it is really about the dynamics between the women in the novel. I’d hazard to say it does not pass a reverse Bechdel test in no scene in this book are there two men, having a conversation, about something other than a woman. But the women on the other hand, why they have highly complex relationships, and it really gives a glimpse into the social lives of women in that period. I’d even go so far as to say that Elizabeth’s relationship with Jane is the most central relationship in the whole piece, and to hell with Darcy.” 

The man will know all of this already not because he’s seen either adaptation (though he has read the book, in spite of what she assumes), but because he has had this exact conversation with no less than five other women. However, his unwanted, exhaustive secondhand knowledge of Pride and Prejudice is consistently useless, because no woman will ever allow him a word in edgewise, and besides, even if he acts like he understands, does he really understand the significance of the Hand Flex scene?? 

And even if he did pick up on that scarce three-second interjection, which somehow will occupy a solid 15 minutes of her rampage, he surely would not have gathered the real appeal of the BBC miniseries, for in addition to loads of dialogue, a number of ballroom sequences, some sweeping landscapes, and delightful horseback sequences, there is the all-important scene of Colin Firth taking a bath. Surely, he failed to recognize that!

And on the subject of Darcy! Oh how she wishes that men would only understand that the entire romance hinges on Darcy being a raging asshole, insulting the woman he cares about, and changing himself for the better based on her criticism of him. The thing men just don’t seem to get is that it isn’t about wearing a puffy white shirt half undone in the rain, nor is it about insistent proposals. The real appeal of Darcy, which of course takes a Very Sophisticated reader to comprehend, is the character growth.

The man wonders how to make it end, to what length will she go to talk about Austen? God, he assumes she would even take up a blog article about Blade Runner to bloviate about Pride and Prejudice!

Edited by Finn Odum

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