Loudly Lydia: a look at the modern Lydia Bennet in “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” and what she implies about Austen in contemporary social debates
Pride and Prejudice has captivated audiences for nearly two centuries and its adaptations have given insight to Austen’s social commentary in each generation. When The Lizzie Bennet Diaries premiered in 2012, the Bennet sisters were introduced to a new minefield – the 21st century. Using transmedia to relate with a young and eager-to-engage audience, the series modernizes the plots and characters to better relate viewers with the social commentary of the 19th century. The web videos employ Lydia, a character largely ignored in literary scholarship, to explore the dynamics of Austen’s women in a male-dominated society. It makes her relatable and dynamic, using the loud, flirtatious girl from the novel to create a still-loud but vulnerable woman viewers are able to empathize and identify with. In this article, I use LBD’s Lydia to explore topics of slut-shaming and victim-blaming language, relationship violence and shame-induced silence. Through these topics, Lydia’s story warns modern audiences of the consequences of their indifference when it comes to sexual harassment and violence toward women. In light of the #metoo movement and allegations of powerful men keeping victims silent, conversations about victimizing and deprioritizing women have become prevalent across the country. I show how using Austen to examine these social issues can bring light to the progress—or lack there-of—that’s occurred over the past 200 years.
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