I Watched Netflix’s ‘Persuasion’ So You Don’t Have To


Hollywood continues to serve as the vanguard for wokeism, shamelessly promoting progressive values at the price of cinematic quality.

Among its recent embarrassments are: “Lightyear,” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” both promotes an LGBTQ agenda; “Ghostbusters” and “Batgirl” underwent a feminine makeover; “Cuties” is sex-positive; and Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” was declared the “gayest Marvel movie ever”.

Each movie underwhelmed at the box office and gloriously suffered from negative reviews.

This summer, we were treated to yet another doozy: Netflix’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” Don’t worry, though, I watched it so you don’t have to. 

Riddled with nods to the woke mob, the movie makes antagonistic jabs at the traditions and values of the Georgian era it aims to depict. The characters frequently attack “toxic masculinity,” forcing in lines such as, “Men like explaining things” and, “Sorry. There I go trying to protect you.” It casts Lady Russell, a trusted and respectable confidant, in a sexually suggestive light. It checks racial diversity boxes, lazily and dishonestly erasing the reality of the age. One character perverts a religious proverb into a silly secular saying: “The universe always has a plan.” The characters act morally offended at period-accurate norms – such as the idea that a man of wealth might be in want of a wife. But no one bats an eye while ranking other people hot-or-not.

Netflix threw together modern lingo with some older vernacular and tried to remove Jane Austen’s characters and costumes from their time, making for an embarrassing replica of 1817 England. It infused Austen’s masterpiece with modern sensitivities and effectively deconstructed her picture of true virtue – arguably the very essence of “Persuasion.”

Beyond the shallow, historically inaccurate bows before the woke mob, Netflix’s adaptation trades Austen’s depiction of deep goodness and sweet femininity for cheap, over-sexualized, and aggressive feminism. It confuses vice for virtue and paints pride as pretty in a shameless degradation of true beauty. 

My only consolation is that the movie itself was so pathetic, disingenuous, and entirely unentertaining – having destroyed the original story beyond all recognition – that it lost the power to plague young women with its false ideals of womanhood and beauty. 

In the original novel, Austen’s main character, Anne, is a lovely and delicate, dignified and wise woman with human complexity. Her virtues are balanced with timidity, excessive generosity, and a “persuadable temper,” which, though well-intentioned, leads her to err. Netflix cast Dakota Johnson, the former “Fifty Shades of Grey” star, as Anne – but this was by no means Jane Austen’s Anne. In fact, Johnson butchered her.

Granting Netflix the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they never intended to create Anne Elliot for the screen as she is in the novel. Instead, they made an entirely new character. They confused soft-spoken Anne Elliot with bold Elizabeth Bennet (how, I’ll never understand), and they scraped together a shallow woman whose pride serves as her defining character trait.

Anne of Netflix rolls her eyes some five times in the first 30 minutes of the movie, an ugly habit Anne of Kellylynch Hall would never allow herself; her humility and kindness would prevent it.

Anne of Netflix borders on alcoholism, a plot device the origin and purpose of which remain a mystery. The real Anne upholds the utmost temperance of tongue, rationality, emotion, and one assumes, substance, as well.

Anne of Netflix prides herself on her sex-appeal and is infatuated with Captain Wentworth for his. She makes a crude reference to herself and calls the captain’s appeal “electrifying.” The true Anne holds herself reserved, even to a fault. Never would she put such an intimate part of herself on display, even as a modernized version of herself. She would not denigrate herself so; it is out of the scope of her nature.

Jane Austen worked diligently as a flag-bearing, first-wave feminist to depict women as more than child-making and -rearing wives. She touted women’s intellectual authority and moral capacity as equal to that of men’s. Netflix successfully strips women of their virtue, moral strength, and purity and boils them down to naked sexuality, in a performance that is nothing short of offensive and repulsive from the “Fifty Shades” star. 

Anne in the movie relishes her family’s humiliation. She celebrates it. Anne in the book is mortified when her family is humiliated. Despite coming from a family of caricatures of vanity and self-pity, Anne never wishes them ill – she invests her life in their welfare.

The proud version of Anne calls attention to herself – often and awkwardly – not to say anything of value, but to tell a story about a sensual dream of an octopus. (Yes, it hurts me too.) The lovely Anne carefully calculates her every word to do the most kindness, “listen[ing] patiently, soften[ing] every grievance, and excus[ing] each to the other.”

Anne in the movie is a morally degenerate, sex-obsessed, selfish, proud, sassy brute – a perfect opposite to the original character who embodies delicacy, kindness, humility, tenderness, and selflessness. 

By its mischaracterization of Anne, specifically her virtues, Netflix misinterprets the entire purpose ofPersuasion”: to depict Austen’s idea of a virtuous, and therefore happy, woman so that others may admire her, emulate her virtue, and likewise achieve her felicity.

Netflix’s “feminist” Anne makes for a sorry woman; she is both morally deficient and miserable. In all of her strong-independent-womanness, she cannot possibly become as happy as Anne of the book when, at the end, she reunites with Captain Wentworth.

She does not love Wentworth. She lives in service to herself and only desires gratification from him; she is infatuated with him. If (and inevitably, when) he ceases to give her that gratification, she will come up empty. Her pride, the chief virtue of the gospel of wokism and her defining characteristic, will damn her to a life of emptiness and misery. 

Austen’s Anne’s softness and selflessness should not be confused with weakness. Her sensitivity is lovely and she is strong of mind. Anne’s devotion to Wentworth is perfect, and she loves him self-sacrificially. He increases her security and happiness, and she attracts him by her abiding beauty, sincerity (not sarcasm), just judgment, and delicacy.

The moral of the story, ladies, therefore, is to be lovely. To be graceful. To pursue virtue. To be kind. And if your Captain Wentworth comes along, you will draw him in by your beauty and your goodness, and if you are lucky, in the company of someone worthy and good, your happiness may be increased.

“She endeavored to be composed, and to be just.”

Lucy Griffin is a sophomore at Hillsdale College, pursuing degrees in History and Spanish. She writes for The Collegian and contributes to the Daily Wire. She co-authored a piece for Fox News, with Kate Obenshain, called “12 Steps to Raising a Conservative Daughter.”

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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