I gave this lecture to Mitch in the kitchen. In person, you can see me do this little shuffle, walking-around thing that you can't via blog post. Stay with me, though. I'll try to make up for it.
I've been watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! It's a webseries. The first episode is the YouTube video above. It's an adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The main character, Lizzie Bennet (Elizabeth Bennet in the original), is a modern-day 20-something in grad school who is keeping a video blog.
It's pretty fantastic story-telling. I cried during many of the 70s episodes. (There are 100 total in the main storyline.) But aside from that, three of its aspects were relevant in my kitchen-lecture to Mitch. 1) it's in a new medium (webseries). 2) It's a fictional work copying a non-fictional format (vlogging). 3) Other people weren't making stuff like this before.
1) The setup is cheap: people who make vlogs - video diaries of their lives - don't have a lot of money to work with since they are one person casually posting for the internet. Since this is the form the series is fictionalizing, it means that they get away with having a stationary camera, few characters, and obvious exposition.
2) Its premise is close to a non-fiction reality. Unlike TV shows or other webseries, it's not trying to make its audience feels as if they are in the room with Lizzie Bennet. They're just asking you to pretend she's a real person talking to you, the internet. It's much closer to reality - less of a stretch - making what happens in it feel more real, more intimate. At times in the story, I felt like I was intruding, like "shouldn't these people turn off the camera and talk about this in private?"
3) These days it doesn't take a huge budget or any sort of permission to make something TV-like. It's an exciting reality, but it takes more than just the possibility to make it happen - it takes an idea.
I feel like, in life, people are looking for other people to tell them what to do. It's not our fault, really, that it happens this way. We're started off going to school, one level leading to the next. Structure. Structure. Structure. And then there are cultural/social life benchmarks we find out about: driving, dating, marriage, children, home ownership, retirement. We all shuffle through life in a line, following the person in front of us.
The crazy thing, though, is that there are a bizillion possibilities in life. But in practice, we only have as many options as we realize we have. (idea = an option realized) That's why I'm so impressed with the creators of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. They veered out of the shuffle line. They saw an alternative means of creating something and took it. Because they did, I also realize that it can be a way of doing things, an option in life.
Art makes the world bigger, folks. It gives us some more options.
(For more, here's a link to a Nerdist Writers Panel interview with the LBD creators. Good stuff.)