John’s Story: A Brave New World Comparison

Dear readers,

“Good morrow” is the first quote we hear from John, the young man in Brave New World who discovers English people for the first time in his life. “A most unhappy gentleman,” he says, and goes on to tell his story. In the Brave New World Netflix UK show, is a bundle of curiosity. In the book, however, John is like, I hate twins, meaning he doesn’t like the uniform clones everywhere. But something really weird happened to John in the show. Let’s take a look at the highlights.

I can’t just talk about John without covering the gist of the whole show. I forgot to add that Helmholtz, Bernard’s friend, is a woman in the show as well. Like what the hell is with the producers changing up the source material in the name of a certain look? Like I understand the need for progress, but quit trying to change the source material.

With John, I kind of wanted the whole “Good morrow” thing to get crazier. John is depicted as an American, not a British born boy, but at least is decent enough to do some good. In the show, he warms up to one of the Epsilon Jack workers, CJack60, as he is called. The guy hands John a thing of meat, and he eats it. John is hanging out with Epsilons in the dining hall, something unheard of in the book. John originally said he hated “twins”, and wretched all over the grass. In other words, John got terribly sick because everybody looked alike. In the book, see the prior post on Linda, John hit one of the Delta boys by his dying mother’s bed. Well, John never hung out with Epsilons in the book, so why? Why was he hanging around Epsilons, and it seems CJack60 is going to be more prominent, but we gotta watch more. John watches a training video to understand the New London lifestyle, but in the book, he flies around and explores the city. The big problem with John in the book is the problematic portrayal of him speaking Zuni and other Native tongues, using the words in the stereotypical fashion. But then he laces his insults with Shakespeare. Weird. John tals to Lenina and calls her an “impudent strumpet” in a classic Elizabethan insult. He went off on her for being who she was, and taking off her clothes, she was about to just have him like civilized people do in the Brave New World, when he went off on her in the following manner: “Strumpet, fitchew.” No such insults were in the show, and what is with CJack60 hanging out with John at all? Perhaps John understood something about Epsilons we don’t understand. But will John fall for Lenina and then call her a whore? that’s the worst of it, but no Elizabethan insults could possibly have been hurled at her. In any case, stay tuned.

Beth

The Tragic Life of Linda: a Brave New World Comparison

CW Spoilers and TW cultural references to Native Americans, please read with care.

Dear readers,

Linda. Where to begin. Her life wasn’t so typical, but in Brave New World, we meet her in two different ways. She started out as a beta plus, which is a step below an alpha plus, and then, we see her as the author was meant to see her. Let’s compare how Linda’s life transformed from book to screen.

In the book, Linda was at first the typical healthy English girl, much like what Lenina was. Linda, a Beta Plus who worked in the fertilizing room, however strong she appeared to be, was left behind in transit when she and the then younger DHC, Tomakin he was called in the book, went to the Savage reservation. In the book, the Savage Reservation was a key negative connotation for Native American reservation. It was probably situated in the Tribal lands in New Mexico. Let’s just refer to the book’s version of it not as a “Savage” place, but as Malpais. That’s what John called it, and for future reference, John is Linda and Tomakin’s child. Back to Linda.

So anyway, Linda was left behind because she fell and hit her head, and some hunters from Malpais found her on the floor and brought her to the lands. Linda didn’t even know she was pregnant at the time, and all girls who are unsterilized in the Brave New World must do what is called “Malthusian Drill.” The numbers, Linda says, go by one, two, and three and so on. Not much is told of how Malthusian drill actually works, and the contraceptive precautions are still on Lenina’s mind in the book after she’s done cavorting with Henry on the golf course, at the cabaret, and then in his room of course. What we learn from Linda is astounding. She had soma before, but when she was forced to live among the Natives in the book, she found herself in a culture shock. One, she was not supposed to just have any man she wanted. People hated her, hated her son John, and it was evident throughout Linda’s future life in the land if Malpais. The Natives sang songs about Linda, not very reverent songs, and the little boys frequently shoved John away, and then, as I wrote prior to this post, the worst of it was when John wanted to do a manhood ceremony among the boys. Now he was able to understand Linda’s world too, but John had some Native American upbringing among the boys and the men of the Pueblo. They taught John about the spiritual practice of the Native American peoples of the pueblo, and he never said the word Ford but said Oh my God instead. John had a lot of respect for the eagle god Pookong, and the son of the One True God, the Jesus everybody complains about in real life. John one day said he wanted to be crucified. If this isn’t a sad person, I don’t know what is.

While John is growing up, he sees his mother, Linda, drunk on the floor or having a lot of sex with Pope, a young man she’s attracted to. Pope brings Linda lots of mescal, which is very strong stuff, but let’s compare this quick to the show. Linda doesn’t drink mescal in the show, instead it’s moonshine.

The most confusing thing about Linda is how she dies. In the show, she’s pictured dead on the marble slab. In the book, Linda’s life among the Natives is brought to a close when Bernard and Lenina rescue both her and her son John. One needs to have at least one reckoning with John and Tomakin, the DHC. Now, Linda’s life in the book and Linda’s life in the show are a bit different. Let’s look at Linda’s on screen appearance.

First of all, Linda is a much the same drunk Beta plus who can’t put up with being happy without drugs. Linda and John are busy trying to get Bernard Marx healed up from a wound he receives at the theater park. Like I said in the previous post, the Native land of Malpais is replaced in the show with a simple theme park, the Savage lands. It’s not about a tribe, but the rebels are hard to tame, according to the all uppity happy Eurocentric New London. Let’s also say that Linda and John were different, and John didn’t share his life story much in Episode 3. The big thing is that John was not greeted by Mustapha Mond, who by the way, in the show was a woman. Why?????? I’m not trying to be sexist here, but if you are going to follow the source material, shouldn’t Mustapha be male? And intimidating? I get that we need progress in the 26th century, but do we want to follow the source material or go our deviant separate way from it?

We deviate a lot when John and Linda are confronted with Madison, the pregnant bride from the theater, and she goes in and says she’s going to kill teh outsiders, Linda, and John. Madison meets her end, which is not saying much of Kiakime, the Native girl John likes in the book. Kothlu doesn’t even speak to John in the book, and Linda tries to understand the whole point of weddings, but then is interrupted by John running away from the wedding procession. The manhood ceremony being the most hurtful thing John is experiencing, he is called the “son of the she-dog.” The Natives’ references to Linda as a she-dog are poignant, but extremely hurtful given Linda’s different culture and upbringing and more importantly, her conditioning.

Linda dies in the book lying comfortably in the bed, the Soma at her side, in the Park Lane Hospital of the Dying, but we don’t see this in the show. Linda is sitting on a morgue slab, the victim of something that went wrong in the rocket, and we don’t know how Linda died … yet. However, John goes mad, and as the happy people of New London will tell you, John doesn’t know how to cope with Linda’s death. This is natural for humans, but with death conditioning, which to me is gross and unnatural, you have tots and little tykes, kids rather, going to a hospital of the dying in the locale and having to eat treats every time someone dies. When Linda died in the book, the young Delta boys in the hospital got eclairs. The boys also got chocolate cream, and this is supposed to make them cope with death? I don’t see that as anything close to natural.

In the show, there is also another plot element. The rebels tell the outsiders, Linda and John among them, that “We are a free people.” They say they’re sick and tired of being fenced in and judged for the amusement of the Indra users, the New Londoners. They’re tired of it. So what will happen next? Stay tuned, and I will write more.

Note that I do like the idea of Mustapha Mond being a woman, but why?????? Why did they have to choose a woman to play the part of a world controller? In the source material, there is quite a bit of gender misinformation, but I see where this is going. The progress to a woman ruling the world is getting stronger every day, and so should be acknowledged in the show. However, do we want to try and reenact Huxley and his source material? Let’s see when I watch next, and yes, I’ll be writing more reviews in the coming days about a future episode or two, but yeah. LEt’s see what the future holds for John, Lenina, and Bernard.

Beth

Introducing Brave New World Series Reviews: Episodes 1 and 2

CW Spoilers, details mentioned here are those involving the Peacock/Netflix show Brave New World, and compares to the original source material by Aldous Huxley. Please skip if you never read the book or seen the show, but read on if you want a serious review.

Dear readers,

I love old books, and there’s something important to note. Brave New World, the masterpiece by Aldous Huxley, has its own special category of awesomeness that I never fail to be dissatisfied by. First off, this book shows you a world utopian society with a scientific caste system, but beyond this, the show is awkwardly different from the source material. If you have read either book or seen the show episodes 1 and 2, read on. I will be hijacking my own blog to review the entire series a bit at a time. See the above CW (content warning) for details and a spoiler alert is in effect.

Here are the highlights from episodes 1 and 2, and how they compare to the book source material. Did the production company get this right?

  1. The beginning. In the book’s beginning, we meet the DHC, or the Director of Hatchery and Conditioning for Central London, which in the show is called New London. Nice job, guys. But that’s where the show is a bit different. We meet Lenina Crowne, whose name in the show is pronounced “laneena”, but I totally understand the alternate pronouncing of her name in book narrations I’ve scrolled through. In the book, Lenina is seen injecting her embryonic patients with the usual stuff, and there are students and guides there to see it all happen. However, in the show, it’s just Lenina, brunette instead of blonde (see next item) and she’s injecting embryos as per the usual thing she does. You don’t see Henry though till the middle and the first man Lenina meets in the book is Henry, but in the show, it’s our hero, Bernie or should I say, Bernard Marx. That’s a big deviation from the source materials.
  2. Lenina’s hair is blonde, and she’s pleasantly pretty in the book. In the show, as described to me through the UK descriptor, she’s brunette. Why the change? Is it that blondes aren’t pretty anymore?
  3. Savage Lands versus Savage Reservation. Oh, did I mention that savages are mentioned in both books and the show? In the book, however, Native Americans are not portrayed well, as was expected in the 1930s when Huxley wrote the source material, and John of course was a British kid dressing up in Native American attire, and we meet John when Lenina and Bernard went to the “Savage Reservations” in New Mexico in the book source material. How it deviates with the show! We meet John before Lenina boards the rocket to the Savage Lands, and the whole land is a theme park, not a fenced in reservation. John is not among Native Americans, but among people who choose to live a so called primitive existence. John also tries to go after a girl, but we don’t see this in the book until John tells his story to Bernard, and the story is a hopelessly tragic one. John wanted to marry a Native American girl, Kiakime, and the girl was actually married to Kothlu, a young Native boy. Sadly, this show iteration of John and Kia’s romance is worse. Instead of the Native born Kiakime, we get Madison, and instead of Kothlu, we get this stranger from the prop store. Madison is pregnant, and we don’t know who did this, and John is an outcast as in the original source material. See next item.
  4. The festival deviates from book to show. John’s status with the Natives (I refuse to use the word Savage here.) is so low because they called him names, chanted songs about him, the whole bit. What bothered me most was when John wanted to do a manhood ceremony with the young boys who were to become men, and they said the most hurtful words. “No, not for you, white hair, not for the son of the she-dog.” They referred to Linda, his mother, as such because of her frequent amatory encounters with their men. However, I wouldn’t go about calling women this because it’s rather hurtful, and to refer to her son as a white hair though was worse. In the show, John is told to stay away from Madison, and the guy says, in no uncertain terms, that he’d kill John if he got close to Madison. Linda, of course, objects. We meet John in the book during a drumming festival, and Lenina constantly babbles on about the drums, and she compares them to everything possible, including “a lower caste community sing.” We. haven’t gotten to the community sings, but I’ll suggest we talk about that soon.
  5. The actual festival in the show was a movie theater, and in that theater, there was a circus of course. This did not include drums, and there weren’t a bad smelling dude who guided Lenina and her compadre around. This seemed odd.
  6. The rest home. Like, am I going to tell you how deviant that whole thing in the show was? Lenina and Bernard go on a rocket to the “Savage Lands” which as I stated before is a theme park for primitive life. Now, let’s talk about the hotel. Bernard, as in the book, is an alpha plus. Taht’s the highest caste in the caste system in New London. Lenina is a beta plus, one step lower but that is to be expected if you want to stay true to the source material. They receive badges, something not mentioned in the book, but in the book they got keys. The rest house was a private thing, sort of. Now the hotel did have a balcony, and it was much more luxurious in the show. Weirder still, the bureaucrats Lenina and Bernard are treated to a bus tour of the Savage Lands. Now, let’s talk further about the meeting between Bernard and John.
  7. Bernard is unconscious when meeting John for the first time, but John meets Lenina after they’re hiding in the apartment in the Savage Lands. Let me tell you, the Savage Lands are about five centuries behind the 26th century, but this theme park is no playground. There’s a lot of violence and jealousy and a lot of what you might call the same behavior you’d see in Straight Out of Compton. It’s not the same as in the book, where there’s a highly charged electric fence, and all the Natives are fenced in and not allowed to leave. Lenina is sleeping when John meets her. But in the show, we have Bernard lying wounded, but unconscious, I’m sure he has to make it, and Lenina has her face cupped in John’s hand in the final scene of episode 2. One more detail.
  8. The Soma rations. Where to begin. The book has lots of instances of the drug known as “soma.” In the show, just about everybody has a soma dispenser, like where to we get creative with this? Soma is amazing, for the most part, in the book. It numbs your mind and it gives you that eternal “soma holiday” as is referenced many times over in Huxley’s source material. However, the dispensers are a show creation. When the people get their soma rations each day, the soma is dispensed to the lower classes in boxes, little boxes, and the boxes hold the little yellow pill in each compartment. Soma rations are given to everybody in the show, but in the show, everybody uses the trains. Where’s the flying? In the book, Henry and Bernard are flying in futuristic helicopters, aircrafts that go from settings like wasp to bumblebee and so on. However, only the lower castes, gamma on down, use the trains and the monorails are packed with them. Every day after the main day shifts are over, you see lines upon lines of these “twins” and so on, and they populate the trains thus far. There’s no helicopters mentioned throughout the show, but you do see futuristic aircrafts flying about New London. I”m impressed with the descriptions of such.

That’s about all the things I can think of for now. For more on Brave New World, watch for the next blog entry. I will also talk a little bit about it on this week’s forthcoming podcast episodes. I’ll do a couple episodes a week of a review, and moreover, this will be incomplete without it.

To find the show, you need either Peacock in the US or Netflix in the UK, but if you’re blind in the US, download from http://www.audiovault.net, and you will need to erase a desktop file in their folder because it messes up the zip archive. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the show if you can.

Beth

God Bless Books

Dear readers,

Books, I love them and I could gobble them up like food. Why? Because I discovered audible, the site everybody loves that has professionally narrated audio books. And I will still use the NLS bard site, but the book limits are dumb and I can’t tell you the half of it. I can’t do the protected notice thing and override it anyway, and I wrote about this on Facebook, saying that Audible might be a better thing because at least I can keep track of credits, and one day I will have books to read that are professional. Here’s a few examples:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is narrated by Claire Daines, but on NLS Bard, the quality is not as great, but Laura Gianarelli is a great narrator period. So … let’s think. Who would you want narrating a really important book? That would be Claire for me, so I’m going to delve into the book with Claire Daines narrating her way through the pages, but I still think Elizabeth Moss’s performance in the Hulu show is bomb. She just does wonders that’s all.

The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter are narrated by Eric Sandvold on NLS Bard, but I think Eric has a good voice, don’t get me wrong. But when you want to hear a good book from the point of view of Michael York, who narrates Brave New World in a so British way, you’ve got to get the Narnia box set I ended up throwing on my bookshelf. And the best thing or part of that entire box set is … spoiler alert, the last book is narrated by none other than the guy who plays Jean-Luke Picard, Okay, I can’t spell the first name, but the guy who plays Captain Picard, also known as Patrick Stewart, and yes, it might sound great on paper, but I can’t wait to hear Patrick Stewart narrate a Narnia book. Trenton loves the Chronicles, so we study them together, and we studied them while eating, but we looked at the Focus on the Family dramatizations, perhaps the only good thing Focus on the Family brought us. I like those dramas because they literally copy the book. But Jadis’s name is pronounced weird in the dramas, but the book does it right. Eric pronounced the words “Calormen”, “Tarkaan”, and “Tarkheena” almost close to how I’d have pronounced it, but remember, I read the Chronicles in Braille too. Harry Potter is a no brainer, Jim Dale is the best, so Steven Frye? Oh please, he can read everything else, but don’t wreck Harry Potter.

There are lots of great books in the audible collection, but I’m working on trying to see what Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book collection has gotten into, but still, I hope she’s doing another book, but I’d love to see a performance from the lady herself on Audible. Books like these are being shipped into Bard, but then, … well, here’s the thing with Bard: it’s a library. It’s weird with that book limit someone told me about, no wonder half the books were unreadable. Ugh. I gotta wait to read those books till August. Ugh.

So what is Audible’s ranking against Bard? I can’t say one is better than the other, but Bard works when books can’t be found on Audible, and the Elvenbane is an example. I love that book, and it is one of those with thought provoking questions to humanity embedded in the subject matter.

With Bard, you can listen while the thing you’re playing it on, whether iPhone, android, whatever, is locked, but same with Audible. The only thing with Audible is you have to subscribe, which I did, and then there’s credits you get per month to get books, and I hope I get audible book credits for my birthday because I want more books to read, good audio books, professionally narrated and performed by good people like … well, Claire Daines and Patrick Stewart. I think Michael York’s narrations are amazing, don’t get me wrong I think British literature is very very important, so yeah.

God bless the ability to listen to and read books, and for this summer, read as many books as possible.

Beth