Ripped from the Pages

Brian Haywood, Staff Writer

There’s been a trend in entertainment developing over the years that has grown to be so naturally a part of our culture that no one even notices it as anything out of the ordinary.

A shift is taking place in how we perceive literature and stories, and how we, as the majority, really want to see them done.

The people want more movies – more things on screen, with flashes, bangs, and characters that they can see with their own eyes.

Yeah, you loved Harry Potter and his friends, but  you really didn’t know them until you put faces to them through the film cast.

Once a book receives that New York Times Bestseller sticker, it is suddenly thrown into the cross hairs of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild. They have to get a piece of what everyone loves. Whether or not it honestly needs a movie adaptation is irrelevant. The people know what they want.

While you’re reading a book, everything going on in your head that nobody else can see is personal to you. The experience happens all on your own time; the writing gives you the pieces, but you control how they’re put together.

Your mind is the screenwriter.

I read and greatly enjoyed the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. It was and still is one of my personal favorites. I felt like the author really had a connection with every single person who would truly love his book, and that connection through the book is all that was needed. So when I found out that he had not only sold the rights to make of a movie his book, but was directing it himself – I was confused.

All of a sudden, it was as if he decided that your personal interpretation is not good enough.

He doubts your ability to discern what you’re reading, and that somehow, the same story but touched and passed around by roomfuls of strangers with film degrees will make it better. He did his part by writing the story, but maybe you’ll want him to do the rest of it for you.

I’m not bashing on movies in general. They can touch people just much as when an author writes a book, but it’s telling something different and demands a different kind of attention.

Movies are movies, and books are books. I used to have a big picture book version of The Empire Strikes Back, and whenever I would read it, all I cared about were the pictures.

Why should the text tell me what Darth Vader looks like when I can already see in my mind? It’s the same backwards logic.

When Peter Jackson directed The Lord of the Rings, he took J.R.R. Tolkien’s original vision and transformed it into something just as intricate and meaningful. For many of us who haven’t read the books, the movies can stand by themselves as separate entities. Jackson put more care, investment, and love into the Lord of the Rings trilogy than the vast majority of filmmakers today.

Take special notice of the phrase “the vast majority of filmmakers.” They are the reason book-to-movie adaptations strike such a bad chord with a lot of people. They’re produced fast, cheaply, and skip through the things that make it special. When they’re over, the fans that showed up dressed up like the characters, who had such high expectations, end up outside the theatre, dejected.

Chances are, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will make a lot of money.

Many people who haven’t read the book will see it, and maybe they will really like it. Maybe people who read the book will like it too. Good for them. For me, it’s a question of artistic integrity.

What I have a problem with, is when someone who made something good that meant a lot to people intentionally starts something unnecessary to make more money.

George Lucas rereleasing Star Wars five times is just as painful to me as seeing the Eragon movie disregard the subject material. It represents a separation from creator and artwork, and causes me to lose faith in entertainment.

It might only be a matter of time before every book comes ready with a “Don’t Miss the Movie!  Coming Soon!” sticker in the back of the inside cover. All we can do is take everything with a grain of salt and enjoy what there is to enjoy, find the things that matter, and hold on to them for as long as we can.

This day and age in which everything is trivialized, it’s up to us to decide what we want. The disappointing movies will still be made regardless, but the nice thing about books is that we always have them to go back to.