Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'll say it once again

People who get uber picky about book-to-movies DRIVE ME CRAZY.

Sure, I'll be the first to admit that this is partly because I hate feeling judged. And if I liked a movie translation, but everyone else hated it, they give me this look. I'm sure they don't even mean to, but they do. It's like their opinion of my intelligence has just fallen once again.

(I give the same look to people who actually liked Twilight.)


The rest of the reason that this bothers me is because it makes no logical sense. Like at all.

If you feel like something about it was badly done, then by all means, crucify it to your heart's content. Badly made movies make me sad. But if "they changed stuff" is the only reason that you didn't like it, then I feel sorry for you, because you probably find very little enjoyment in life.

Here's Why:

Now before we continue, let me just clarify. I'm not saying that people should be okay with a crap movie being made out of their favorite book. (Or tv show, for that matter.)

(Why is Shyamalan still allowed to make movies?)

It is perfectly acceptable to be sad about this stuff.

But here's the thing. Writing stories and making movie stories are two totally separate genres. The basics of storytelling in both are essentially the same (which is why books can be made into movies at all), but the specifics are very different.

Let's take the Hunger Games as a prime example. Enormous sections of that book are of Katniss running around in the woods. It's interesting reading because we are in her mind, seeing what she thinks, following along as she plots stuff, and feeling what she feels.

But if the movie had stuck to the book with 100% accuracy, this would be the entire movie:

Do you see what I mean? The movie makers HAD to change things. They had to take what was essential narration in the book and turn it into dialogue or images or somehow transfer that knowledge to us without using wildlife-documentary-voiceover.

Movies can not be the same as books. They don't work. It's like taking the score to an opera and trying to translate it into a painting. The ups and downs and fasts and slows that work in a moving piece of music can not come across by copying them with brushstrokes.

Its the same for a movie. The length has to change. The dialogue has to change. The type of show vs. tell has to change. Inner monologue is no longer a function of narration, but of the look on an actor's face, or a twitch in the actor's hand. Scene setting is no longer a function of nicely combined words, but of an actual picture spliced together by talented design artists.

Pacing, characterization, and action sequences all have to change in order to actually work in an audiovisual format.

And sometimes that means shortening your favorite scene. Sometimes it means leaving some things out and making it work without them. Sometimes it means adding some random other things in, so that the pacing of the story even makes sense visually. That can be disappointing.

But sometimes, for the greater good, things have to change.

Sometimes those changes fail. And we all weep.

And sometimes, though not always, those changes actually make things better. Just because something is the original doesn't make it the best choice. If that were true, every published book would be a first draft. No editing. No proofreading. Nothing.

And libraries would be the most useless places on earth.

Taking that a little further still, lots of these choices are entirely subjective. Just because you hated that choice doesn't mean it was a bad decision.

I admit, I was glad when they left Tom Bombadil out of the LOTR. Some people love him and were really angry that he got cut. But I fail to see the point of him in any way whatsoever. Random dude in yellow boots who prances around in the creepy forest. Right.

These same people also very often refuse to admit that LOTR is a tour-guide type fantasy. It's not plot-driven and it's not meant to be. This isn't bad, by any means. I mean, Tolkien did it on purpose. But it does mean that Tom isn't there because Tolkien had some kind of important role for him to play. He's just there because it was the only way the hobbits could get safely through both the old forest and the barrow downs. Neither of which actually matter, in the grand scheme. But they're on the tour. They exist in his world, and therefore must be seen in great detail.

Only Tolkien could have even gotten away with something like that. If I wrote a Tom Bombadil into one of my stories, I'd get form rejected faster than Bilbo can lunge for the ring on Frodo's throat.

Movies can't do that either. Not only does it not advance the plot, but there is just not time in a movie. If you want a tour movie, go to the non-fiction. As far as actual plot goes, the story is straight up better off just getting to the freaking point.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. But what I am saying is this: If the acting is good, and the camera work is good, and the music is good, and the effects are good, and the script is good, and the pacing is good, and the costumes are good, and the editing is good, that means it is a good movie. You don't have to like it. But your disapproval does not change it from a good movie to a bad one. And if it is a good movie...

what are people getting upset about?

But Harry Potter is supposed to have green eyes, and Daniel Radcliff has blue!!!!!! The apocalypse is upon us!!!

Yes, I digress into sarcasm here. But the point remains valid. Has the world ended? Has the non-inclusion of green contacts actually ruined the story?

Uh, no. No it didn't.

As long as the stuff they change was changed well or at least non-intrusively, then no problem exists.

You're allowed to still not like them. That's fine. Not everyone likes every movie. But don't be getting all "BUT THEY CHANGED STUFF!" on me. I will punch you in the face. It can be a good movie AND have changed stuff in it at the same time.


I reiterate:  If you feel like something about it was badly done, that's fine. But if "they changed stuff" is the only reason that you didn't like it, then I feel sorry for you, because you probably find very little enjoyment in life.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cultural Destruction

This is going to be a very difficult post for me for two reasons.

1) It is enormously difficult for me to strip down a 5 or 6 dimension idea down to 1 dimension (ie words). It always has been. But it is even more difficult for me to do so with a real topic or concept, as opposed to when I'm just joking around, which is most of the time.

2) I hate admitting weakness in any form. Hate it. So much so that one of my biggest personality flaws is my tendency to stretch the truth. Without actually lying, I constantly try to phrase everything in such a way that no blame for wrongdoing ever falls to me. This is actually something I really despise about my personality, but it always seems to happen before I realize it.

And in this post, I will attempt to do both.

Recently, on facebook, I had a sort of mini-discussion that really got me thinking about certain things. The prompt: "This isn't me being annoyed. I want an actual answer if anyone has one. But why is it that, as a very general rule, guys have no problem with non-jokingly saying stuff like "yeah, I'm pretty great" or "It's just because I'm really hot" whereas girls don't?"

I got a lot of answers. And most of them were pretty wise. One being "Girls are culturally raised to believe we're not good enough. We don't measure up to some imaginary bar of success. Guys are traditionally taught they can do anything they want to. Thus many of our cultural inequalities."

That, obviously, was posted by a girl. Then another later comment (which is far too long and wordy to repost here at the moment), pulled out the standard guy retort (which I have heard so many times I almost want to gouge my eyes out). That being the whole "Guys like that are boys, not men, but too many girls go for them anyway. Then they brush off the ones that ARE there, saying "I like you, but only as friends." and then wonder where all the men are."

Ok, so that is true to an extent, but the reason it bothers me that so many males spout it as the real problem is this: If you're claiming to be one of the "real men", and you're not chasing down those girls solely based on beauty, don't you want one of the "real women" and not the dumb girls that do act that way? So why are you complaining? Where exactly is the problem?

I'll tell you. The problem is that men stereotype the women as ALL doing this just like the women stereotype the men as ALL being idiots. When it's not true on either front.

I could write an entire post on that answer. But I won't, because this is about something different.

Anyway, at the end of the standard retort, this comment basically said "I don't agree that we raise girls to think that way. I believe it is our choices in life that make us feel this way."

Another part of the above long comment: "Most women I know and that I associate with are strong and independent women. I remember thinking when I met your mother, this is a women that takes care of herself and succeeds without a man in her life, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. She was already stable not waiting for a man in her life to accomplish these things."

I agree. Most of the women I know are all of those things too.

Well, if that's true, what about me?

Therefore, the point is not that women aren't capable, but that they don't feel they are. Because I know a lot of women who are those things in ALL THE WAYS. And yet those people are the same ones that constantly talk about how they aren't as good as everyone else, and how they suck at things.

Like me.

I was raised in a super great family. With good parents and good schooling and plenty of the material necessities in life (but not too many to make me a snot. I hope.) I feel reasonably confident in saying that I have done my very best to make good choices in my life. I have never (to my knowledge) done something so stupid that my life is forever altered by it. I try every single day to be a good person. I am smart and brave and strong and loyal and tough and happy and amusing and semi-responsible and flexible and slow to anger and good at an enormous number of crafty things and great at 3D puzzles and enthusiastic and nerdy and solid and sturdy and....

I won't go on. You get the idea.

Yet, despite being all of that, I constantly feel inferior to just about everyone I know.

Judging by the reactions of the perfectly good and upstanding men (and some women too) who replied to my earlier query, men clearly don't agree that they are teaching the girls to think this way. Most people don't agree that anyone is teaching girls to think this way.

Still, an overwhelming number of perfectly competent and excellent women are constantly degrading themselves and taking anti-depressants and live that secret stressful existence of never being up to par.

I do every single day. (Not take anti-depressants, of course. I'm nowhere near as wussy as that.) But every single time I look in the mirror, I remember how not-as-pretty-as-everyone-else I am, and somehow that trumps all of the awesome things in that earlier list I just made. Every time I fail at something, that somehow trumps every great thing I've ever accomplished. Every time I think of all the cool women that I know, I think about which things they can do that are better than things I can do. I think about which accomplishments they've achieved that I still haven't managed. I think about their sense of fashion vs. my incompetence, or their sense of humor vs. my awkwardness, or their social skills vs. my incompetence and awkwardness.

And I'm 143% certain that I am not the only one.

But if this isn't being taught, per se, why does it exist?

I have a theory. The theory of the subconscious. Because let's think about it. How many times in a movie or book or song or tv show do you hear the woman say "I'm coming with you" and the man replies "No, it's too dangerous"?

Harmless enough, right? Until you realize that when a man is talking to another man he never says "it's too dangerous" but "Get your butt over here. Stop being such a girl."

(I've lost count of how many times Arthur has done this in the 4 seasons of Merlin I've watched thus far.)

No one is saying women are incapable. No one is trying to imply it. But the implication is still there. Little girls watch these movies and get this subconscious idea in their heads that men can face danger, because men can do whatever they want. But women can't go with them because the danger is too much for them, and bad things will happen.

This would both explain why girls feel this way, and why men don't have a clue that it's a real thing.

How many times in a show or a book do you see the heroine get into mortal danger, and the only way out of it is when the hero comes to the rescue?

How many video games do you see where the main character is a man, and one of the objectives in the game is to seduce some scantily clad lady, as though a woman is worth nothing more than a bullet point on a list of things to accomplish?

How many times do you see the "strong female character" become as masculine as possible in order to accomplish her strong female goals?

How many older movies have the plot revolve around the monster capturing the helpless woman (who faints every time it is near) over and over again. If I remember correctly, in the Creature From the Black Lagoon, that woman screams and faints in front of the creature like 6 or 7 times.

And above all other things, how MANY FREAKING TIMES do you see some girl cast as "the fat character" when she is skinnier than most average women? How often are the "ugly girls" actually very attractive? How frequently do the men fall in love with the beautiful character based on a 3 second glance from across the sidewalk?

I just googled strong female character and got pictures of a bunch of scantily clad ladies in sexy poses. WHAT?

I won't go on. Again, you get the point.


I agree that this doesn't happen so much anymore. It's getting better. There are more and more "strong female characters" that don't rely on steel bikinis and seduction, or masculine muscles to be epic. There are more male characters that don't say "You can't come. It's too dangerous." There are more plot arcs where the women do as much rescuing as the men do. And I'm glad. Maybe the little girls who are growing up now won't have the self image problems that the already grown women have.

But many grown women still have it. And I think this is why.