Fear in Writing: Clueless about Emma

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clueless about Emma

Do you know what it says on the back of the DVD case for the movie Emma? It says, "Based on the same story as Clueless." And yes, that is true. But they never once mention that story happens to be classic romance literature written by the inimitable Jane Austen.

Is it even important Emma the movie hatched from the same storyline as Clueless? Isn't it more important to Clueless that it hatched from somewhere more grounded than its own intentionally groundless title?

I saw Clueless at Graumen's Chinese Theater in summer of 1995. My family was visiting L.A. on the way to a soccer tournament in San Diego. My father and I are classic movie buffs, and Graumen's was a dream. And for a teenage girl (I was 15), Clueless was also a dream. So was L.A. in its way. My mother and grandmother took my sister and I to get our hair done on Rodeo Drive. We shopped and cavorted as only the young an impressionable can do out of their element. Then we moved on to the sunny San Diego.
But now I see that Emma reigns supreme in its original book form. The movies serve different audiences and are, in my opinion, incomparable. But to completely ignore Jane Austen on the back of the movie based on her book? Horrible. Ignorant.

And to tie Emma the move to Clueless as if the former burst from the empty mind of the latter. Inconceivable. Literally.


  1. Yikes! That is really odd. Somebody in the marketing department made some really strange decisions :)

  2. That's really weird packaging. Most people know about Austen's 'Emma'--her books have had an amazing rebounding in popularity over the last 15 years.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Weird packaging is right! I really can't add anything to what you have already so appropriately stated in your post! To not reference Austen is - well what were they thinking??

  4. I really don't know what they were thinking, but as a bibliophile I see the disgrace. I see the marketing error, but also the shame of modern blinders. We love our history, but only when it is cloaked in movies and well-hidden behind 20foot goddess-like actresses. I shiver at the thought of how (and what) my children will learn. Will they see Plato in black and white without pictures? Or will Colin Farrell depict his life onscreen?

    One would think I hate the movies. I don't! I love them! My favorite movie at age five was The African Queen, followed closely by King Kong (1933). I cherish the importance of cinema and media. But I hate the embellishment of the truth that leads to falsehoods. And I hate the constant funeral of The Book in favor of The Movie. But maybe I am not being optimistic enough. I am always willing to hear other sides.


  5. This marketing decision is sad on so many levels. You have to know Jane Austen has turned over in her grave.


  6. That does seem odd. Wonder who made the decision to put that on it?

    Straight From Hel

  7. I agree with the others, very odd.

    I also took down today's post. No intent to insult.


  8. Oh I didn't mean it that way Galen! How awful I now feel (and I'm even talking like Yoda)...


  9. Anything to make a buck. It may not be illegal but it certainly doesn't sound ethical.

    Stephen Tremp