How Greta Gerwig Lied about…Well Everything Jo, Friedrich and Adaptive Attractiveness
Podcast Transcript Part 1
Hello, Little Women fans! Today´s we have a triple comment shoutout.
The first one goes to Radical-Rin who says:
“Controversial opinion, I know, but I actually really love Jo and Friedrich and I am god damn lesbian”.
This comment lives in my head rent-free.
Another comment shoutout goes to janeykath318"I don’t care what Tumblr or Greta Gerwig say. It’s completely canon that Jo and her Professor were crazy in love, got married, and had two adorable boys, Rob and Teddy. If Louisa May Alcott really didn’t want them together, why didn’t she kill him off in the sequel? Instead we got two sequels where they clearly are still madly in love and thriving in the chaos of Plumfield”.
Here is a quote from the-other-art-blog:
“I thought the same thing, if she didn’t want Jo to be married, she could have killed him off. Plus, there are so many scenes where she is clearly attracted to him. They make out and a friend of mine says there’s an afterglow scene! Greta lied during the whole press tour!”
When I have read Greta Gerwig´s interviews all these things that she has said about Little Women, none of them actually happen in the novel. It´s just one lie after another. It really has made me wonder has she even opened the book. She says that she is some sort of an Alcott expert and then she ignores some very important elements about her. Like the fact that Louisa loved Germany, which is not really something you can miss, especially if you study books that Louisa liked to read. She even studied German and travelled there. I am going to dissect Gerwig´s sayings and things that some Alcott scholars have also said that actually don´t happen in the novel.
This episode is sponsored by Audible, so if you want to check how in Louisa May Alcott novels, the main love interest of Louisa-type of the protagonist is always based on Henry Thoreau, this is your chance. You can get 30 days free trial with the link in the description.
This is Small Umbrella In The Rain Little Women Podcast Jo March, Friedrich Bhaer and adaptive attractiveness.
Louisa´s (and Jo´s) Looks
Adaptive attractiveness means that in a film or a tv version a fictional character who is not written to be conventionally attractive is played by an attractive actor. In Little Women this happens with Jo, with Friedrich and with Laurie. Laurie in the book is written to have brown skin, yet in all adaptations between 1917 to 2019 he has been played by a white actor. Laurie having brown skin is important, because in the plot of the book it plays to the way he sees himself and contributes to his character. I made an episode about it. It´s called Laurie and adaptive attractiveness.
Adaptive attractiveness applies to Jo as well. Jo in the book is not written to be pretty. She is tall and quite muscular She is tanned and likes to be outside, but in the 19th century, that wasn´t considered attractive at all. She is very clumsy and socially awkward. Louisa May Alcott´s niece Lulu, said that her aunt had a very low voice, like a man´s (Reisen). That is what Jo looks like in the novel. I´v had people leaving not-very-nice comments to my channel where they complain about the looks of Katherine Hepburn and Sarah Davenport. Katherine played Jo in the 1933 Little Women and Sarah in the 2018 Little Women. What I understood these commenters complained that these actresses were not pretty enough to play Jo. Yet these two actresses actually look closest to the book Jo.
Let´s put a pin on that. Not pretty enough to play Jo, who is not written to be pretty.
In Little Women Louisa May Alcott, criticizes society´s obsession with beauty. Katherine Hepburn and Sarah Davenport are tall, they have long shaped faces, they are athletic and muscular. That is what Jo in the book looks like. If you put the book Laurie and the book Jo next to one another, they are not very balanced. Laurie is effeminate, he is written to have small hands and small feet. Next to Jo he seems small.
It´s not just Jo, there are people who complain that Gabriel Byrne, Mark Stanley and Paul Lukas who have all played Friedrich were not good looking enough and then there are people who say that Ian Bohen, Gabriel Byrne, Louis Garrel and Rossano Brazzi are too good looking to play Friedrich. Yes, Gabriel Byrne is in both of these groups. All this is about a book where the author is criticising society’s obsession with youth and beauty.
The most disturbing group of people are the ones who say that the book Friedrich is not handsome enough for Jo, despite the fact that Jo is not written to be particularly beautiful herself and one of the main themes of the novel is that love beautifies a person.
Louisa May Alcott was taller than most men. She also liked to run and she exercised. In the 19th century, the average length of women was a bit shorter than now, so you can imagine that Louisa stood out.
In the novel, Jo feels like a freak and as an outsider. There is criticism towards Meg and Amy because they wish to fit into the female circles. Movies have been criticized because they put the spotlight on Jo, and don´t focus that much on other sisters, but lately there has been more discussion about how Jo (or Louisa) demonizes their femininity. In the 19th century, the world between men and women was strictly divided. One of the reasons why Jo prefers the male company is because there is less criticism about her looks (at least not in front of her). She feels quite insecure about her body, and often compares herself to Amy and Meg, they are treated better in society, because they look more feminine. Meg is written to be the most beautiful of the sisters. Amy is not that beautiful but she is poised and she has nice manners but Jo has a quick tongue and she can´t control her mood changes.
Listen to the podcast:
If you enjoy reading my content, consider subscribing to my feed. Also, if you are not a Medium member and you would like to gain unlimited access to the platform, consider using my referral link right here to sign up. It’s $5 a month and you get unlimited access to my articles and many others like mine. Thanks
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com.