Since discovering the online book community, how many of you have become entangled in the book vs film/tv adaptations debate?
How many of you have left it alone because you don’t want the fear of having to defend opinions that some people consider to be “wrong?”
The latter is me to a T, but as of right now, there is something I need to get off my chest. And it all started when I happened upon a Twitter thread saying that authors shouldn’t sell rights to producers and film companies in case the adaptation is a disaster – their words, not mine! It referenced the likes of Eragon, Percy Jackson, and Northern Lights (or the Golden Compass if you prefer), and whilst I am not a fan of those adaptations, it got me thinking.
Even if an adaptation of a book is not what we expected, that it didn’t do the book justice, or that it is – for lack of a better word – bad, should we as book lovers look down on it and film viewers and treat them with inferiority?
I, like the next person, might get peeved when a favourite book of mine is turned into an adaptation I don’t like, but it doesn’t give me the right to put the book on a pedestal and keep it there for all eternity. It certainly doesn’t give me the right to say to people “the book is always better and you should read it instead of watching the film.” Out of the adaptations I’ve seen, I do often prefer the books, but every day I see the advantage of turning some of our best-loved and popular works into films, television programmes, stage productions and even theme parks.
Adaptations provide accessibility to stories and worlds that we as readers take for granted. By handing over rights to producers, authors are granting non-readers the opportunity to discover a story that would otherwise remain inaccessible and hidden from them.
I do often bring these types of discussions back to my sister but it is living through her eyes that makes me realise what the adaptations give to people who – for whatever reason – don’t read the books. It is also becoming more apparent to me how many people are ignorant, judgemental and cruel to others who watch the adaptations instead of reading the books. I got thrown this crap by one of my ex-housemates at university (although it was more the physical vs e-book debate) but the same sentiment was there. She was so stuck in her own superior world that she wouldn’t accept the greater provision of accessibility on offer to a wider audience. Suffice to say our friendship didn’t last past our second year of university but the comments were unnecessary.
If producers want to turn even more books into films or tv programmes then they can go right ahead. As book lovers, we can make the decision to watch them or not. If we watch an adaptation and decide we don’t like it, we don’t have to watch it again. What we categorically shouldn’t do is call people out for watching the films and preferring them to the books. We don’t have the right to judge what others do and don’t enjoy, especially if there is a significant reason behind it, and if that is watching adaptations rather than reading the original book then getting on one’s high horse is futile.
When I look at it, we wouldn’t have some of our most popular films of the 21st Century/recent years if it wasn’t for books.
Hell, half of my favourite films (most of which are Disney) have been adapted from books:
Mary Poppins (PL Travers)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Mary Norton)
101 Dalmatians (Dodie Smith)
Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
La Belle et La Bête (Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve)
Matilda (Roald Dahl)
Many TV shows I love also started out as books and most of the time, I watched the shows before realising they were based on books!
That is not what I was getting at when I started this post, but I believe it is a discussion we need to look at with wider lenses. The world is bigger than each of us perceive it to be and we do often look at it through the media. As a reader, I look at it through the ways I experience books – audiobooks, e-readers, paperback/hardback. Alongside these, film and TV adaptations give greater accessibility to the wonderful world of fiction and I personally don’t see how someone can argue against that, or treat those who use any number of these ways with contempt and inferiority.
What do you think?
How do you feel about book-tv/film adaptations?
In terms of promoting accessibility for all, is it now time to shelve this debate?
From what angle do you look at it?
Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!