April 01, 2023
Never paraphrasing the classics was a given until woke sensibilities became a must. It was brought to mind by the BBC’s adaptation of Great Expectations, with the convict Magwitch knocking the Empire, and Miss Havisham taking opium on the side. What they should have done is have Pip hustling coke for a fellow Magwitch convict named Escobarian, bringing it daily to the addicted old lady, and Estella sniffing—no pun intended—out the plot and giving hell to young Pip.
Never mind. Woke rules supreme, and because of it the future for the classics seems unlimited. Let’s start at the beginning, and Homer’s Trojan War. No more tired old Menelaus and Helen and Paris and stuffy chief Agamemnon. The real reason for the war is that Paris has run off with Patroclus, Achilles’ so-called best friend and lover. Achilles’ rage against Agamemnon is because of a homophobic remark the King of Mycenae makes after the Greeks remain stuck on the beach facing the Trojan gates for ten years while Paris and Patroclus are having a rave inside. Achilles slays the noblest Trojan Hector after the latter appears in drag as Achilles during a drunken feast at King Priam’s. I could go on. Helen dreams of being carried away by Odysseus, but he only has eyes for her hubby, and so on. The Odyssey, too, has unlimited possibilities, with trans monsters and seducers along the way to Ithaca. The first Hollywood tycoon to film the epics in woke lingo will light his cigars with thousand-dollar bills for the duration.
The Great Gatsby. Now, here’s an opportunity to make the fastest buck ever. The Fitzgerald classic has been filmed three times, but the new woke one will make the Alan Ladd, Robert Redford, and Leonardo DiCaprio versions redundant. In the woke version, Gatsby is a trans male, born Jill Gantz, who used to longingly look at a little boy named Dick, who is now Daisy Buchanan, living across the bay. Fitzgerald’s novel has passed the test of time as few other novels have managed to, and that’s because it’s all about youth. When the trans version comes out, the place will go wild. Sex changes will become the norm, and easier to access than aspirin. There is, of course, a dark side to Gatsby the movie. Like Gatsby, all of us want something we can’t have, and in the film, Daisy regrets becoming a woman and wants to switch back. I predict the first movie to make a billion will be Gatsby the woke.
And let’s not ignore white male privilege. My close Hollywood friend, producer Sammy Glick, has an option on Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. The original version of the novel was a bit of a flop; the book was meant by Mailer as a preview of the future, its only morality a power morality. General Cummings bullies Lieutenant Hearn, the weak liberal who represents a doomed order of human dignity. In the new Sammy Glick version, the lower-class American troops who are ordered to attack the Japanese-held island of Anopopei revolt and embrace their Japanese enemies—who turn out to be a female army that welcomes the Americans and tells them to lower their hands and be proud of their decision to surrender. The futility of war is well presented, and the idea of a macho male attack is shown to be what it’s always been: a charade. Sammy Glick believes an Oscar is inevitable.
Although the original nine-hour epic of Brideshead was filmed again a few years later, the new politically correct version follows the Waugh version to the letter. As well it should, depicting Sebastian as the epicene drunk and middle-aged syphilitic alcoholic who has never done a thing in his life, the Oxbridge snobbery, and the deference for the top people that marked England back then. The only change will be the working-class Hooper, who will be Afro-Caribbean in the new version, and a man who corrects Charles Ryder in religious and historical matters and wears his Victorian Cross with humility.
Last but certainly not least will be the new woke version of 1984, the Orwell classic that needs no revision as a social syndrome. “Orwellian” is like “Kafkaesque”—part of the language, and just like in the novel, life is imitating it. As the torturer describes the future to Winston Smith, “Imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” The party is all-powerful both in the novel as well as in Washington and London, meaning the Deep State and the Blob. 1984’s new version will be shown regularly in schools and on TV every month. Winston and Julia will be portrayed as traitors and out-of-touch, heterosexual anti-woke fools.
And there you have it, countless opportunities for the new generation of writers and directors to paraphrase the classics to their heart’s content while making a woke point time and again. Just imagine what they can do with epics such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, War and Peace, and Madame Bovary, all with #MeToo input and woke themes. Even better, just imagine what a hit The Sisters Karamazov will be, the three sisters plotting to murder their horrible father, Fyodor, the celibate youngest sister Ala, a nun, finally seeing the light and hating everyone involved. There’s more hate in The Sisters Karamazov than in any other remake—a surefire hit. Don’t go woke and you’ll go broke, as they say in Hollywood.