It is a truth universally acknowledged that you do not talk about fight club. But Emily Janice Card, the writer-director of “Jane Austen’s Fight Club,” a viral video (embedded below) that bloodies some petticoats by pitting prim and proper 19th-century ladies against one another, has found success in breaking that cardinal rule.
“Last year I was just joking around with a friend of mine and we were listing those iconic rules of Fight Club,” remembers Card, who also stars in the video as Mansfield Park’s Fanny. “And I started doing it in the voice of a proper, well-bred young English lady. I didn’t know exactly what to do with it, but it stayed in the back of my mind, and then over the course of the year, I came up with other things that might be funny in Jane Austen’s world, like ‘Why don’t you hit me as hard as you can at the Regency Ball?’”
Card filmed her nihilistic, nose-bloodying comedy of manners at a friend’s house with 11 of her pals. The prospect of fight scenes didn’t put anyone off. “That was actually the biggest reason why a lot of people wanted to do it.” One of Card’s friends actually went to stunt school and so she taught them all how to take a punch realistically. For the fake blood, they used a mixture of ketchup and cocoa powder (“it tasted disgusting”) and they used their own makeup for the bruises. “We had fun making them as gross and purple as possible,” says Card. “Then afterwards we went to McDonald’s like that, which I think may have disturbed some people.”
This isn’t the first time Ms. Austen has been mashed-up with something a little, well, incongruous. There’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. And then this. And this. And this. “Everything Jane does is so comedy of manners and relationships and all the things that are unsaid or you can’t do, that when you throw something else into the mix, whatever it is, it’s instantly intriguing or funny because it’s so outlandish.” So does that mean that she’s planning on making a sequel? “People are asking, ‘What’s next?’ I think the first thing that comes to mind is Emily Bronte’s American Psycho. Because that’s what Heathcliff was. Except British.”