Friday, March 14, 2008

Jane Austen Drinking Game

Jane Austen is hot right now, mainly because of the complete series being shown on Sunday nights on PBS. I've enjoyed the shows so far and have even gone so far as to read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE a couple of weeks ago. I find the stories charming, once I get over the urge to incite all the servants to rise up and kill all the main characters. But I guess they didn't know any better. Other than that, there's nothing new I can say about Austen that hasn't been said before. However, a certain line from one of her stories struck me favorably.

First, some background on one of my pet peeves: the cliche, "You've got to believe me." For the past two decades I've been paying attention to how often this insipid line occurs on TV, in film, and in books. Some nights I hear it two or three times. Practically every cop drama has someone breathlessly claiming, "You've got to believe me!" I point it out to Judi whenever someone says it and we laugh. If we were drinkers, I imagine we could stay nicely lit by throwing back a shot every time we hear it uttered on TV.

My gripe against it is that the only proper response to someone telling you, "You've got to believe me!" is "No, goddammit, I don't have to believe you. You have to convince ME, and I recommend you do it with logic and articulation, instead of inane phrases that mean nothing." And let's face it, "belief" is crap. I personally don't believe in anything that requires that you believe in it for it to work.

So, while it's possible to get royally drunk by playing the drinking game of throwing back a shot every time you hear the phrase, "You've got to believe me," can it be played with Jane Austen? I think not. I have seen films of just about all of the six Jane Austen novels (and read one) and the only time she even came close to using the dreaded phrase was a case where one of her heroines (Elizabeth Bennett in P&P, I believe) says, "You OUGHT to believe me."

Changing that one word makes all the difference. It makes sense and is an eminently proper thing to say. If I could go back and change all 1000+ instances of "You've got to believe me" in literature and film to "You ought to believe me," I wonder if modern life would be different? Maybe the idea of people telling other people how to live would be less respectable. Preachers and politicians would be put in their place (low and useless) and people might think for themselves more.

So what kind of drinking game can be played with Jane Austen? How about if you took a shot every time someone talks while dancing a gavotte or reel (or whatever those line dances are)? They do it in every show. They may not have much of a grasp on social equality, but they definitely were coordinated.

5 comments:

Randy Johnson said...

Another popular phrase that drives me up the wall is, "You know what I'm saying." Especially when they use it a dozen times in the space of a five minute conversation.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

When watching a Jane Austen movie, you could do a shot every time someone appears on screen who is many years older than the character in the novel.

By the end of the movie, you will forget who the hell was supposed to marry whom.
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magnolia_mer said...

Whenever one character invites another character to take a walk with them, preferably by saying, "Would you care to take a turn with me?"

Drink up.

Ballz Calhoon said...

Here's something else you OUGHT to believe...Ballz Calhoon is recovering well, and enjoying your blog! Nice hairdo! Thanks for your prayers and support when I was in need! Would love to talk to you. Call me sometime!