Tonawanda News

Opinion

May 19, 2013

Fitzgerald's 'Gatsby' a ceaseless classic

Tonawanda News — I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I somehow had never read until last week one of our seminal works of literature, read by most in high school English class, “The Great Gatsby.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s spellbinding tale of the origins and opulence of one Jay Gatsby is a really, really good book. Maybe perfect. If there are flaws, a reader more attuned to such criticism than me could make the case. I won’t.

The only thing more embarrassing than admitting I’d never read it was the reason: I wanted to see the movie adaptation done by director Baz Luhrmann. 

As I turned each lush page I fell under the spell so many have before me — engrossed in the over-the-top imagery, extravagant parties and the towering love story between Gatsby and his femme fatale, Daisy. 

The book captures the Roaring Twenties in all their glory but it wasn’t until the film adaptation that I realized just how much it speaks to my time.

Lurhmann smartly juxtaposes the glitzy classic New York images of Gatsby’s world with a modern score including a 1990s hip hop anthem by the rapper Jay Z, one of the film’s executive producers.

It was watching Gatsby, depicted cooly by Leonardo DiCaprio, driving that crazy yellow car set to Jay Z’s “100$ Bill” that I realized just what a modern adaptation would look like — and how much it says about how we live today.

By today’s standards, Jay Gatsby is a pimp. Not a literal one in the sense he forces women into prostitution — though there’s no shortage of material along those lines in the book or the movie. 

Gatsby is a pimp in the sense there’s nothing too over the top not to try. Swap out the flapper girls for some strippers, make the champagne Cristal instead of Dom Perignon, turn the yellow roadster into a tricked out Escalade. Instead of West Egg, Long Island, the story probably takes place in the OC. In less than five moves you get from Gatsby to “The Real Housewives.”

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