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Re: [mythsoc] Movie versions replacing originals

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  • David S Bratman
    ... Oh, come on. Are you being deliberately obtuse? First, the stuck in my head does not mean obsessing about the film, it means an inability to not think
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 1, 2003
      At 02:58 PM 12/31/2002 -0500, Sparkdog wrote:

      > > And it's not a matter of "allowing". Have you never had a tune you
      > > disliked stuck in your head, and you couldn't get it out and stop thinking
      > > of it? If not, you're probably the only person who never has. The
      > rest of
      > >
      > > us humans don't have such iron control over our mental associations.
      >It doesn't take iron control. All it takes is getting on with life and
      >refusing to obsess over something. You're a Tolkien scholar, not a Jackson
      >scholar. There's plenty more to think about than just these films.

      Oh, come on. Are you being deliberately obtuse? First, the "stuck in my
      head" does not mean obsessing about the film, it means an inability to not
      think about the film when reading the book, as I discuss later on in this
      post, and discussed in an earlier one in this thread also.

      Second, my initial post was about how being a Tolkien scholar FORCES me to
      be a Jackson scholar also, _if_ I'm to comprehend and talk intelligibly
      with people who know the film better, think it represents the book, or are
      apt to confuse the two. This is the real world, Sparkdog: these people
      exist, and I'm going to be talking to them. I'm talking right now to a
      person in the first and possibly the second categories.

      Thirdly, I am doing much else with my life, and am hardly obsessing over
      this any more than you are: I doubt my total wordage on the subject here,
      since you showed up, exceeds yours. My only obsession is over making my
      points clear, and if I had succeeded in doing so, you would have dropped
      the subject first, and then so would I.

      >most adults learn to shut out things they deem
      >unimportant. Not entirely, of course, but...well, Britney Spears is all over
      >the place, and I don't think of her when I am reading about a woman her age.

      Few adults learn to shut out things that are constantly blasted at
      them. That's why I used the case of annoying catchy songs, a common
      complaint out here in the real world - Dave Barry wrote an entire book
      about the subject. And when something is central to your life, as Tolkien
      is to mine, mutilations of it are going to be especially painful.

      Not all young women are inaccurate film adaptations of Britney Spears, and
      I beg leave to doubt how ubiquitous she is: I've heard of her, but though
      I've probably heard her songs (on store muzak, which is the only place I
      hear popular music these days) I've never _knowingly_ heard any, and I
      wouldn't recognize her on the street. Possibly if I neither knew nor cared
      about Tolkien I'd be equally oblivious to ads for Jackson's film, but as it
      is they draw themselves to my eye without any desire on my part.

      > > The James Cain story you present in another post - "The book is still on
      > > the shelf" - is a tired old argument that completely and utterly misses
      > the
      > > point. Here's what I wrote about that in _Beyond Bree_:
      >Just because you don't like it, that doesn't make it untrue. What he says is
      >absolutely true: the existence of a movie in no way affects the books already
      >out there.

      It's still untrue, despite assertions to the contrary. That's why I
      mentioned novelizations of the movie: they may be rare, but they do
      happen. Their mere existence, however rare, falsifies the general truth of
      Cain's argument. Then there are movie tie-in covers: maybe not a big deal,
      but they most emphatically affect the books on the bookstore shelves. And
      there are other ways to affect the books than physically. Onward:

      >To be frank, the "novelization" boogeyman is the true "tired old argument."
      >I never read them, but those (mostly young) people who do read them are being
      >drawn to a book by a film. In the overwhleming majority of the cases, the
      >novelization is new, not the replacement of a novel already in existence
      >(though again, that has happened).

      No, it's not a tired argument: it's a side point, but it's necessary to
      make because it proves the general Cain argument to be untrue as a
      universal. And these novelizations are dangerously misleading: I've seen
      warning labels on bookstore shelves: "This is not the original novel!"

      >People who are looking for something to attack about an adaptation have
      >plenty of legitimate targets not to have to drag this one in--a book exists
      >before and after a film version. Most film versions of books come out long
      >after the book has dropped off the bestseller lists. A film version will
      >promote the book, selling at least one or two additional copies.

      To people whose image of the story was formed by the movie, and will be
      AFFECTED by that. That is the way it mostly affects the book. Let me

      1. Novelizations (of films made from a novel) and film tie-in covers affect
      the PHYSICAL book. They are a minor case, and don't affect it often: but
      they prove the physical book CAN be affected.

      2. Reading a book in the wake of the film affects one's PERCEPTION of the
      book, and thus affects the MENTAL book, even if you're reading a copy that
      existed before the film was conceived. And I don't want to hear any
      arguments about how the film doesn't affect your perception: ANYTHING can
      affect your perception of a book, most notably the age you read it at. The
      LOTR I read today is not the same book I read at age 12, even though the
      text is unchanged. The LOTR first read by people raised on a diet of D&D
      and Tolclones is not the same book as the LOTR first read by people who'd
      never encountered anything like it before. (Jokes in which youngsters
      claim Jackson's film to be a ripoff of earlier fantasy films are
      legion.) These differences are so obvious as to be platitudes; only a
      epic, detailed, captivating film dramatization of a book is somehow claimed
      to have no effect whatever on the mental state or image of the reader. You
      told me I was "very odd" for finding that it does have an effect. That's

      In the wise words of Alexei Kondratiev, "It is entirely possible that
      readers who come to the book after the movie will be unable to imagine
      those characters as looking like anything other than those actors, and that
      this will eventually become a convention -- a built-in tradition in Tolkien
      illustration, perhaps. The movie will definitely have restricted the
      potential scope of a reader's spontaneous imaginative response to Tolkien's

      >The original Wizard has so many scenes that were not translated to the screen
      >that it indeed has survived. How many times has one heard the phrase "The
      >book was better than the movie"? Enough to convince me that, your own
      >situation notwithstanding, most people have no trouble separating the two.

      I've not heard that phrase very often at all about "The Wizard of Oz",
      actually. Nor can I think of anything in the book alone that has the kind
      of popular survival value of the movie's famous catch-phrases. The book is
      buried beneath the film, and that despite the fact that it is a relatively
      famous (in its own right) book that is relatively often-read. If it were
      obscurer on its own than it is, but if there were no film, it would not be
      buried this way.

      Despite the ability of people to separately evaluate books and movies,
      they, or at least many others, often confuse elements in them. Lastly, I
      object to your referring to my own situation as confusing book and
      movie. I said only that I might run that risk if I don't keep my
      familiarity of the book up to speed. It was the web commentator I linked
      to who actually confused them. I've seen many such confusions in the past,
      and many more attempts to resurrect books from underneath better-known
      films of them.

      - David Bratman
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