Author Nick Hornby has argued that the TV reboot of High Fidelity in which the lead role is gender-flipped, is key to providing a crucial sense of “belonging”.
The British writer, whose 1995 novel was first adapted for the 2000 movie starring John Cusack, hit back at criticism of the decision to make the central character a woman.
In the new TV series, which premieres in the US on Hulu today (February 14), Zoë Kravitz plays Robin “Rob” Gordon, the disaffected record shop owner who was originally portrayed by Cusack.
In a piece for Rolling Stone, Hornby opines that having a woman play Rob is an important way for fresh audiences to connect. “That it makes so much sense, and speaks so directly to a contemporary audience, is a tribute to the star and her team; it also says something about the ability of pop, rock & roll, etc., to inspire enduring devotion and provide a crucial sense of identification and belonging.”
The new show finds Rob relocated from Chicago to Brooklyn where she recalls her heartbreak through her favourite deep cuts – albeit this time in a digital world. “High Fidelity the TV show deals with the world we’re in now,” Hornby continued in his article. “The playlists are made digitally, yet the hearts that are broken by feckless men and women are still inconveniently and painfully analog. Somehow, Rob survived the move into the 21st century, because people are still willing to pay for something that’s as ubiquitous as the air we breathe.”
Hornby said he initially feared that the proposal to have Kravitz portray Rob was “a gimmick” based off the fact that her father “is a rock star” (Lenny Kravitz) and her mother (Lisa Bonet) was in the 2000 film.
But these fears were allayed when the writer received a playlist from Kravitz filled with songs from Alice Coltrane, Tierra Whack, MC5, and Sun Ra. “Zoë might be a bona fide movie star, but she’s done a lot of crate-digging. I was pretty sure that she’d do a good job. She has.”
He concluded: “If I catch anyone saying it’s self-consciously ‘woke’, what with its gender reversals and its inclusion of more than one race/sexuality, I will come ’round to your house and put you back to sleep. Because, guess what: High Fidelity isn’t just about you. It’s about people who aren’t like you, too.”