Skip to main content

But it’s just a joke!

_87705549_gettyimages-494848194

Okay. Let’s talk about Pewdiepie and the “it’s just a joke” defense.

Quick intro, for the unaware. Pewdiepie is a gamer and the most popular creator on Youtube, with over 50 million subscribers. In recent years, he’s been curating a persona of Youtube’s Biggest Troll, and has been increasingly making “shock” jokes that are racist, sexist or otherwise offensive. Then, a couple of weeks ago, he made a video where he paid two men $5 on the freelance site Fiverr to film themselves holding up an incredibly anti-semitic sign (the link, like all the links in this post, is not to the video, but to a website unaffiliated with Pewdiepie). This was just one of a string of recent videos with anti-semitic language and Nazi imagery, which, of course, he claims were jokes. But it’s not been so funny to Disney, who cancelled their creative partnership with Pewdiepie in response on Monday night. Or, apparently, to Youtube themselves, who have now cancelled the second season of his premium Youtube Red show, Scare Pewdiepie, and revoked his place in their elite advertising program, Google Preferred.

Pewdiepie, of course, said that the Fiverr video was a statement on society — to show “that people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars” — and that he does not support “any kind of hateful attitudes.” “I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not as a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that.”

But the most important part of his denial and apology, to me, was this final statement:

“As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don’t support these people in any way.”

I, at least, believe him. Or I believe that he believes everything he’s saying, to the point that he never considered he would get serious backlash for this. Although Pewdiepie makes racist, sexist and anti-semitic jokes, I doubt they represent the beliefs of Felix Kjellberg, the real Swedish guy behind the channel. Everyone knows that Youtubers create personas, and although I’ve never liked Pewdiepie’s gaming content, I’ve seen Felix appear plenty of times in the daily vlogs of his girlfriend Marzia, and he comes off as a completely likeable, caring, normal guy. Obviously, that could be fake almost as easily as his Pewdiepie character, but it at least gives the impression that he’s a very different individual in real life from the one who plays games in front of a camera.

But even if that’s true, even if Felix Kjellberg is one of the nicest and kindest people you’re ever likely to meet, even if he means absolutely no harm… that doesn’t matter. His jokes are still harmful.

Felix claims that it is “laughable” that he could mean any of the hateful jokes he makes, and I think this disconnect in perspective is one of the main reasons that people use “but it’s a joke” as a defense. “It’s a joke” memesters see the world as a much nicer place than it is, where these jokes are counter-cultural, rather than maintaining systems of oppression. In their view, these hateful things are so extreme that no real person would actually believe them. The entire joke is based on that extremeness. And you have to be really oversensitive to take offense, because who in their right mind would actually mean these things? Clearly it’s a joke. It’s like an extreme form of deadpan sarcasm, relying on the mutual understanding that whatever is being said is shockingly outrageous and that the joker believes precisely the opposite.

And it falls apart because that mutually understanding does not exist when broadcasting to an audience of millions around the world.

(more…)

Read More

Tropes, Intentions, and Critical Role

tumblr_nu1wndm8lz1uz17elo1_500

Whenever writers get criticized for invoking troubling tropes in their stories, there’s one excuse that crops up more than any other: “this was where the story needed to go.” Yes, many other stories have shoved girlfriends in fridges or killed off the lesbian characters or had the black guy die first, but they weren’t thinking of that when they were writing this story. The story told them that this needed to happen, for the good of the narrative, and so that’s what happened.

It’s almost as though the writers have no say in where the story goes. The narrative takes over their brain, and any critical thinking ability or chance of reflecting on things vanishes. There’s no editing, no critical thought, just the all-powerful Story.

This has always struck me as complete nonsense, since no matter how “in the moment” a writer might be when creating a first draft, they have plenty of editing time afterwards to consider a story’s implications. But I’ve been thinking about it in more depth recently, inspired by my new favorite thing to recommend to people, whether they want to hear about it or not, Critical RoleCritical Role is half improv show, half radio play, built around the mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons. Not only is the story mostly improvised, but it happens in reaction to the randomness of dice rolls. Who lives, who dies, who tells their story… in the end, the dice decide. For once, the writers really don’t have total control.

And one moment sticks in my mind, from several months ago now. (Spoilers for episode 68, Cloak and Dagger). Once upon a time, a character called Vax struck a fanboy on the head, knocking him out, to show him how out of his league he was and warn him not to get messed up in the sort of stuff that the protagonists of Critical Role face. About 50 episodes later, that kid shows up again, allied with some of their enemies, and in the ensuing fight, he almost kills Vax’s girlfriend, Keyleth. She doesn’t die, but it’s close, and she only survives because the dice rolls come out in her favor.

It was a really interesting narrative moment for me, because it had great unplanned narrative symmetry, a consequence of Vax’s harsh actions coming back to bite him after so long. If it were planned, it would be compelling, but also troubling, as a female character was killed off for a male character’s story arc. Unplanned, it might actually represent that unseen pure case that writers often attempt to invoke, where “that’s just where the story wanted to go.”

The hypothetical has stuck in my head for months since the episode aired, precisely because I’m wondering how I would have reacted to this trope actually appearing by accident. Would it still have bugged me? Would the fact that she’s an independent character controlled by her own actress have changed how things felt? Intention isn’t magical, but to what extent does invoking a trope by accident excuse the troublesome implications? It didn’t happen, so it’s all hypothetical, and I won’t dig into it too deeply, because I think it’ll make my head explode with all its problems and contradictions.

But one thing I know is that, even if the story had come together completely randomly, it wouldn’t have stopped the idea that a female character dying to enhance a male character’s story is troubling. That the actors would have needed to handle things carefully, both during and afterwards, to ensure that Keyleth’s death had remained a key part of Keyleth’s story, and not been all about Vax’s mistakes and the consequences on him. And if pure random chance doesn’t completely override the context of troubling tropes, regular storytelling methods have no excuse.

Read More

Entertainment Recs for Anxiety and Depression

One of my biggest struggles is how difficult I sometimes find it to concentrate on stories. When anxiety and depression are bad, we really need the distraction of some good entertainment, but concentrating can just seem to take too much energy and effort, even if it’s just casually watching a TV show.

So, with that in mind, here are some of my recommendations for low-concentration entertainment for low and anxious days.

Reading

wedding dresses NZ

Graphic Novels. I only got into graphic novels last year, but they’re perfect for flying through a story. They’re easy to read, visually appealing, and you can read a whole trade paperback in less than an hour, so they don’t feel intimidating. Rat Queens is a good bet, as it has a fairly simple plot, great characters, and is lots of fun. I also recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, because it is hilarious. (My full review for Rat Queens is here, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl here)

Novels are tougher, but I recommend some light and breezy contemporary fiction — something that’s easy to pick up and get invested in. I particularly love Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

(more…)

Read More

Why you should watch Critical Role

tumblr_nl9tzk10Pe1r201t0o2_1280-1024x575

Critical Role is a web show from Geek and Sundry, where a bunch of nerdy voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons. And it is, surprisingly, absolute genius. It feels like a unique mix of a radio play, an improv show, and a fantasy adventure, with the weirdness and randomness of D&D thrown in. The show follows the story of Vox Machina, a group of eight adventurers in the world of Tal’Dorei, a setting entirely invented by the brilliant dungeon master, Matt Mercer, and the ridiculous and exciting things that happen along the way.

I have to admit, the show only sounded minimally interesting to me, even as a D&D fan, but it has so many great things working for it. The main one, of course, being the actors involved. They’re all very talented, and great at improv. Matt Mercer has created a rich world for the characters to play in, and the players dive straight into it, roleplaying their hearts out, getting deeply emotionally involved in the story, and taking things in some ridiculous and inventive directions. Mercer performs every one of the other characters they come across, bringing them to life. I’m particularly fond of his performance of Trinket, the party’s pet bear, but this spontaneous moment as Viktor the black powder merchant is one of the most loved:

Dungeons and Dragons is collaborative storytelling, which means that the show can be weird and wonderful in ways that you wouldn’t see in a more controlled storytelling environment. The players can attempt to do pretty much whatever they like, as long as it’s in character, and their success is down to the roll of the dice, meaning no one in the room knows exactly what’s going to happen, including Matt Mercer himself. So when a character is in danger, there’s not a single person who knows whether or not they’ll survive it until the danger has passed. And although Mercer doesn’t go out of his way to kill characters, he’s not averse to letting them die if that’s where their actions and their dice rolls lead.

(more…)

Read More

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

bridesmaid dresses UK

I’m not entirely sure why I picked this book up. I know of Felicia Day, the nerdy actor/web-creator, and I think I even met her, during her Buffy convention days, but I’m not particularly a fan of hers. But I’ve been binging on one of her web entertainment company Geek and Sundry’s Twitch series, Critical Role (more on that another day soon!), and when her memoir was mentioned on the show, I found it at my library and thought, “Why not?”

I definitely didn’t expect to be reviewing it here. But it turned out, I really needed to read this book.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet is written in that super-chatty style you might expect from “books by internet stars,” which I sometimes find grating. But it also made the book incredibly accessible, and I devoured the entire thing in less than a day.

Felicia Day is an entirely self-made business woman and creative who used online video and social media to carve her own space in the entertainment industry. For all that people idolize or dismiss her as “queen of the geeks,” she’s smart, driven, imaginative and very successful, and she has a lot to teach others about succeeding in the industry. But as I read her book, I also felt a huge emotional connection with her. I saw myself in Felicia, in almost every way, and she put a lot of my own fears and feelings into words. The need to pursue a 4.0 at all costs, considering yourself a failure if you don’t see immediate success, being too terrified of being bad to start creating, struggling with the general pressures of intense anxiety, worrying simultaneously that you’ve missed your window to succeed and also that you’ll never live up to your past successes… her neuroses are my neuroses, which probably meant the book was a different reading experience than it would be for people who haven’t had existential crises over the idea of receiving a B+ on an assignment.

But beyond that, her memoir is a story about realizing that you and your work don’t fit in, and so carving the perfect space for yourself instead. It’s about learning how to succeed (and how to fail) while wrangling with anxiety and depression, about overcoming crippling perfectionism and learning to accept limits. It’s about existing and creating in a space often filled with misogyny and hate, and of facing down Gamergate as a celebrity and gaming fan. It’s the story of being a double major in math and music, a highly talented prodigy violinist, then moving to LA, becoming an actress, writing your own web series, starting your own entertainment company and generally taking over the web.

And it’s just so nerdy and readable too.

I didn’t always like or agree with everything she said, so I recommend this with the caveat that you may occasionally cringe too. But that aside, I think this is a great book for anyone who wants to work in a creative field, anyone who is a painful overachiever, or even just anyone who isn’t sure how or where they belong.

Read More

Youtube and the Alien Interests of Teenage Girls

Dan and Phil_1024x576_16358_thumb_940_528

Last month, I read a really frustrating interview in the Sunday Times with popular Youtubers Dan Howell and Phil Lester (aka danisnotonfire and amazingphil).

The article of course starts with a description of hysterical teenage girls, overwhelmed by the possibility of meeting their idols, and takes on an inevitable “only sane person in Wonderland” perspective, where the Totally Normal reporter marvels at the strangeness around him. As the article insists, no-one other than a hysterical teenager or the parent of a hysterical teenager could know who these two people are, and the Youtubers themselves are trapped in a kind of eternal teenager-hood in appealing to these girls. The interviewer (who states he is in his mid-twenties) generally acts like the world of Youtube is an alien beast that he’s barely even heard of before, and everything he encounters there is ridiculous in the extreme.

To which I have to wonder… how? And why? Admittedly, as a young adult novelist, I might be a bit more in touch with “things teens like” than a lot of people in their mid to late twenties. But the “lol, Youtube, what is that? Teenage girls are so weird” tone doesn’t match the world I see. Pretty much everyone I know my age watches Youtube. Everyone I know watches different things on Youtube — make-up tutorials and fashion hauls and video game reviews and Let’s Plays and vloggers and singer songwriters and comedy channels and cooking shows and on and on — but they’re certainly familiar with it and use it regularly for casual entertainment. It’s a very different sort of engagement from what you’d expect from the stereotypical “teenage fangirl,” but it’s real.

And this is backed up by data. A study of Youtube watcher demographics in March 2015 showed that 31.8 million viwers were aged 18-24, while 41 million were age 25-34, and 19.4 million were over 65. The gender of Youtube watchers is also split 50/50, unless gaming videos are taken into account, in which case male viewers dominate.

And yet, whenever I see Youtube discussed by the British media, it’s as this incredibly strange and foreign concept that’s exclusively followed by screaming teenage girls, and is mocked and dismissed as such soon afterwards.

Dismissing anything liked by teenage girls as vapid, immature and ridiculous is par for the course. But recently, there’s been a trend to not just to dismiss things that are almost exclusively popular with teenager girls, but to pretend that generally popular things aren’t generally popular, but solely a stupid girl thing that’s completely alien to the “normal,” non-screaming fangirls among the population., in order to demean their interests.

The most obvious example, of course, is the much-discussed Pumpkin Spice Latte. At this point, the “PSL” is the stereotypical drink of the vapid, useless “basic bitch,” and ordering one is inherently mockable. With this has come the idea that getting a Starbucks is a similarly ridiculous female thing, despite the fact that Starbucks is so popular that there’s one on every street corner, and that for many years its been the stereotypical domain of the college student and male freelancer. Now it’s somehow become female, and so mockable, even as the entire world can blatantly see that it’s nothing of the sort.

And Youtube is seeing a similar effect. There are a huge variety of channels out there, and a huge variety of successful stars, but apart from the occasional “how Pewdiepie conquered the world” article, the mainstream media mostly focuses on vloggers and beauty gurus, with the angle of “what the hell is this thing and why are these stupid teenage girls screaming about it?” This, despite the fact that gaming videos and their pre-teen male fans are arguably even more of a powerhouse on Youtube, and the fact that these things don’t get the same ridicule and confusion.

So this Times article disdained the teenage fans, implied that the stars themselves have nothing of genuine value to offer, and made no effort to truly understand what was going on except from a “bemused outsider” perspective. But it also created a fake narrative of “us” and “them,” the alien world of teenage girls and the normal world of the rest of us, in order to mock teenage girls for enjoying things that, actually, aren’t exclusively enjoyed by them at all.

And despite being clearly untrue, it has an effect on how we think about things. How many people now feel defensive about ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte, despite the fact that it’s just a drink, because of its “vapid girl” connotations — guys who hesitate to order one because they don’t want to be “girly,” girls who hesitate because they aren’t “that girl”?

As it turns out, teenage girls’ passions and interests aren’t as separate from “grown up” and “male” interests as a lot of people would like to believe. But as that doesn’t fit the narrative society wants to tell about them, and so the media has to create a new reality, where even common interests are freakish and niche, and no self-respecting, sensible adult could ever possibly understand them.

 

Read More

Anita Sarkeesian: What I Couldn’t Say

Last week, Anita Sarkeesian spoke at the All About Women conference in Sydney about how almost three years of harassment has affected her life and what she’s been unable to say to those who target her. In it, she talks about how death threats become routine, how she’s forced to suppress any emotional reaction at risk of being seen as “hysterical” and further discredited, how she can no longer use humor in her work, how she has to watch herself wherever she goes.

As far as I know, this is the first time Anita Sarkeesian has talked so openly about the impact that her harassment has had on her. It’s a powerful and important speech, and at only four minutes long, I think everyone should take the time to hear it.

I also think it’s important to remember why Anita Sarkeesian has been continually harassed and threatened, both on and offline, for almost three years.

She made a Kickstarter to fund a new incarnation of her Tropes vs Women series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games.

That’s it. That’s what led to not only to an avalanche of rape and death threats every week (as if that wasn’t enough), but also to bomb and mass shooting threats against her speaking engagements, a flash game where you get to beat her up, and threats against her family that drove them out of their home. She thought she had something worth saying, and she thought others might be willing to fund her to say it. And as she wanted to talk about sexism, and specifically sexism in video games, that was deemed worthy of literally years of constant harassment.

I’ve included a transcript of her speech below the cut.

(more…)

Read More

Zoella, Girl Online and the “wrong” kind of success

ship discount prom dresses 2016 at groupdress.com

This week, the British media have been in a feeding frenzy over Zoella, the popular Youtuber whose debut novel Girl Online sold a record-breaking 78,000 copies in its first week. In news that shouldn’t really surprise anyone, the book was revealed to have been ghostwritten by YA author Siobhan Curham, and Zoella took a temporary break from the internet in face of the ensuing furor.

I’m writing this as seemingly quite a rare specimen — someone over the age of 20 who knows who Zoella is and has seen her videos. Even though I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I am one of her much-mentioned 6 million subscribers, and I do watch her uploads on occasion. So take that as you will here.

In my opinion, the way that Zoella handled this situation was wrong. But it is nowhere near as wrong as the way that the media have handled their response. Zoella presents herself as a “big sister” figure for her pre-teen and early teen fans, and many of them look up to her as a role model. Her brand is built around authenticity, and the fact that she not only used a ghostwriter, but also lied to her viewers about her writing in her vlogs, is something that would understandably confuse and dismay young viewers who thought she could do no wrong. They certainly have a right to complain. But the media at large are not making this point. Most of the people writing about her had no idea who she was before this week, and as they criticize her and spread exaggerated stories about her crimes, they’re using her as a way to unfairly tear down yet another successful young woman and attack teen culture, as well as the publishing industry at large.

Whether you like her brand or not, Zoella is a self-made celebrity and successful businesswoman at 24. She’s rich enough to own a mansion when simple property ownership is a massive daydream for many 24 year olds, she was invited to sing in the newest BandAid, she’s been named vlogger of the year twice, she has her own beauty range in high street stores, she sold 79,000+ books in the UK in a single week… and the only help she had in the beginning was the existence of Youtube. She’s built a brand around being herself, and although people might not understand her popularity, her business savvy is undeniable.

But her success did not come through “approved” channels, and it’s a rather “feminine” success, talking about yourself and your feelings to a camera in your bedroom and offering beauty advice to that most maligned of audiences, teenage girls. And although young fans may be disappointed by the existence of her ghost writer, celebrity ghost writers are extremely common, both for autobiographies and for forays into fiction. The celebrity name is a brand, and although they may have the general plot ideas, the words are someone else’s. By focussing on Zoella’s use of a ghostwriter as though it is a shocking, unacceptable thing, the media are handily avoiding the fact that a self-made young vlogger has the power to break records with her brand, and instead turning her into a teen girl stereotype of vapidness and inauthenticity. The book sold because of her name and her name alone, but she doesn’t deserve her success, because unlike other celebrities with ghostwriters, she isn’t the right sort of successful.

And many media outlets are spreading misinformation as a way to hype up the backlash even further. They say that her ghostwritten book outsold JK Rowling (it didn’t), and that she has “quit the internet” in response to the backlash (she hasn’t) in order to simultaneously magnify her success and show how little she deserves it. Her need to take a step back in the face of a massive backlash is presented as a melodramatic flounce. Her ability to sell more copies than JK Rowling as a debut novelist in her first week of sales is presented as a statement of literary popularity, rather than the simple fact that Zoella’s name sells debut novels, and JK Rowling’s didn’t, because no one knew who JK Rowling was in Harry Potter’s first week on the shelves. And so understandable things, and laudable success, are used to malign her more and more.

Yes, there is an issue with the ghostwriter element, in terms of payment and in terms of credit, but that is not necessarily Zoella’s fault. And although the ghostwriter may have been ripped off, this doesn’t harm the publishing industry, as some people seem to think. If her books rakes in money, that money can be invested into other, riskier authors. The literary and the uncertain have to be supported somehow.

In the end, Zoella’s success show that teenage girls are an audience who demand content, demand role models, are a huge driver of popular culture, and have the power to make someone into a massive success. It shows that these girls are not just screaming over attractive boyband singers, but that they’re looking for young women to look up to and emulate, and that their influence can’t be ignored. The way that Zoella handles her branding should not set her up to be the media pariah of the week. But her popularity with teenage girls, her own gender and her personality and her audience, the idea that a young woman who is unknown to most adults could have such a powerful name and be such a powerful market force… that, it seems, is definitely worth tearing apart.

Read More

Sam Pepper and Youtube Abuse

Over the past few days, more allegations of Youtuber abuse have come to light, this time against Sam Pepper.

Laci Green’s video above is the best summary of what’s happened (click through to the video page for more links), but for those who can’t watch: popular Youtuber Sam Pepper posted a “prank” video where he sexually assaulted random girls on the street with a fake hand. When the Youtuber community responded with disgust, he posted another video claiming that it was all a “social experiment.” And in the past few days, several videos have been posted accusing Sam Pepper of abuse and rape.

This isn’t the first time that these sort of allegations have been seen in the Youtube community. In March, a flood of stories came out against several popular Youtubers, in particular Alex Day (probably most well-known for his Alex Reads Twilight series). The difference between then and now is that now, people are actually responding.

Not that people didn’t talk about the issue in March. But they only talked about it on Tumblr, where the allegations arose. No major Youtuber mentioned it on the platform where it mattered, despite the fact that the accused were using their status as Youtube Celebrities to abuse teenage fans. There were a few vague videos on the importance of consent, and that was that.

So on the one hand, it’s really heartening to see so many Youtubers responding to this, both on Youtube and on Twitter and other platforms. But on the other hand, it has really depressing implications. Sam Pepper is getting called out and discussed on Youtube because he posted video evidence on his own Youtube channel. And as Laci Green points out, he wasn’t called out after doing it once. He has made several similar “prank” videos in the past, including lassoing random strangers and handcuffing strange women to him and demanding that they kiss him in order to be released. I don’t know what happened with this particular video to create such a strong backlash against it. I wish I did. But the fact remains that he happily posted evidence against himself again and again before he finally got a reaction. And when there isn’t any video evidence, as has been the case with other Youtubers? It’s pushed under the rug, addressed on Tumblr but ignored on the platform where most of the viewers actually are.

The swift and decisive reaction to Sam Pepper might leave people in the community feeling like they can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. And maybe I’m being cynical for disagreeing with that. Maybe events this year have led to more awareness, and a greater willingness to act when allegations come to light. But the facts remain that Sam Pepper posted several similar videos before this, and that other popular Youtubers act in a similar way without widespread criticism. It remains a fact that I no longer have enough fingers to count the number of Youtubers accused of taking advantage of and/or abusing their teenage fans this year, and yet this is the first time I’ve heard the abuse explicitly mentioned by a popular Youtuber.

Youtube still has a serious problem of abuse in its culture. And I really hope that this will be a turning point, with more safeguards, more discussion and more clear condemnation of abusers in the future, and not a moment where people get up in arms for a week, and then sweep it under the rug again.

Read More

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

18775255

Lizzie Bennet is back! Sort of. No new season of Lizzie Bennet Diaries (although there were two new semi-awkward videos, if you missed them!), but if you’ve been missing the old Youtube series, you can now check out the tie-in book: the “diary” of Lizzie over the year of vlogging her life, Darcy and all.

When I got the chance to read an advanced copy of the book, I was positively jumping with excitement, and I started reading it straight away. And if the idea of spending more time with this Lizzie and her world makes you similarly excited, then it’s definitely worth picking up a copy.

Let’s be honest: this book isn’t going to change your world. But if you enjoyed the videos as they aired, it is going to make you all nostalgic for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and eager to watch them all again. In fact, I think the best way to read this book is by rewatching the videos simultaneously — each diary entry has a real date so that you can match up the videos and chapters in the right order, and see how they interact. (There’s even a helpful timeline on the official website, for those who want to do that). 

The book also has a fair amount of new material, including a few plot twists that never made it to screen. We actually get to see Lizzie’s parents interacting, and so we can see them with more depth. There are more Darcy scenes, including details of the day in San Francisco, and more detail/honesty about early Darcy moments than we hear about in the videos. And, of course, it has a copy of Darcy’s letter. However, it’s a little disappointing how the book handles the big moments that we already saw on screen — aka Darcy’s confession and the moment when the two of them get together. The book just uses transcripts from the videos, rather than adapting them into diary format or scenes from a novel. And yes, we have seen these moments before, but it would have been great to get some of Lizzie’s interiority during the scenes. As it is, it comes off as a little redundant.

The book also takes the chance to address some of the problems with the show. A lot of people criticized the series for Lizzie’s slut shaming of Lydia, and the idea that Lydia was utterly cowed and changed by her experience with Wickham. The book tackles both. First, by Lizzie realizing how badly she screwed up, and how she should have appreciated her sister for who she was, and secondly, by suggesting that this is a new Lydia, but not a BETTER Lydia, and that the old Lydia is bouncing back. I was always on team “Lydia is shown with great depth and we’re not supposed to support Lizzie’s perspective on her,” and whether that was genuinely the case or not in the show, it’s great to see that the book makes the problems with Lizzie’s attitude explicit.

All in all, it’s a cute tie-in for a cute addictive series. It won’t appeal to people who haven’t seen the show, but then, it’s not really meant to. It’s for fans of the show, and as long as they don’t expect too much beyond cute, enjoyable light reading, they’ll certainly enjoy it.

Read More