Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jane Austin vs. the Vampires...

Driving this morning to a doctor appointment I was listening to NPR on the radio. There was, what seemed to be, such an odd piece that left me yelling at the void inside the car. (I believe it was a replay of an interview from March 29.) Writers taking the text of Jane Austen's novels and dropping horror scenes within the story line! They call this a mashup... but I call it obscene. The author, Seth Grahame-Smith, was speaking to a reporter about how the use of Pride and Prejudice combined with vampires or zombies would enrich the lives of both horror fans and Austen's loyal readers. Nonsense! The horror genre may be entertaining and even worthy in its own right. But butchering Jane Austen will no more make a zombie love Mr. Darcy than make Elizabeth fall madly in love with Dracula. In my opinion, the writer (or writers) of such books are using well written prose that's in the public domain as a cheap way to enhance their own talents and SELL, SELL, SELL. There is a large audience, especially among young people, for vampire stories and the like. Grahame-Smith's books are already being produced into movies. He can't really expect us to believe that it's to broaden our interest in other literary genres!

Novels like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice are timeless classics because of their fundamentally captivating stories and beautifully written words. While I actually do like reading about vampires and thoroughly enjoyed all of Anne Rice's vampire novels, I do not appreciate mixing, or mashing-up, the two. I am more interested in preserving the past's perfection
than helping today's young people enjoy an Austenesque zombie encounter. If you want to help young readers broaden their consumption, rent a movie rendition. Colin Firth will either make them want to read Austen or at least expose them to her words. Watch Shakespeare on stage or in a movie, but please don't ever think you can mashup Lady Macbeth Confronts Dr. Frankenstein!

Picture from Evert A. Duyckinick, Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America (New York: Johnson, Wilson & Company, 1873)

I've strayed a bit from the technology theme of this blog, so I thought I'd add this survey you can take from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Answer the questions and find out what type of technology user you are:
Technology User Types

Then take a look at these videos (they're not brand new, but we're still wrestling with their concepts in the classroom):

A Vision of K-12 Students Today
Since the embedded video seems to be problematic, you can view this video here:

Did You Know? (animation version)
Sorry, the embedded video seems to have a problem embedding itself, so you can view this video here:

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