Just Trying To Keep The Conversation Lively: Books Into Movies/TV

My hubby says there are three things you should never discuss with folks who have diametrically opposed beliefs than you do: Politics, Religion, and Operating Systems. We have a mixed marriage. I’m a Mac and he’s a PC. He’s a computer engineer, of course he’s a PC. We had some friends over last night for wine and snacks. We haven’t seen them in a while even though they practically live across the street. It was a great time. We always have fun discussion with them because we’re all fairly like-minded on most topics. Conversation moved from basic household catch up to the volatile weather to the book and upcoming tour to the Zimmerman verdict, which popped up on A’s news alert mid-evening.

Our friends are in training for an October trek to Everest Base Camp. They’ve been biking, hiking and recently returned from a family trip to Yellowstone. We’re all avid readers, film fanatics and good television aficionados. We’ve exchanged book titles, books as birthday gifts, movie reviews and television recommendations with very few misses. Somehow books popped up in the conversation as they love the audio books they listen to on the road. They travel frequently and it’s a great way to share a book. We did the same thing when we road tripped with the kids. I’m not certain how Game of Thrones came up, I don’t recall hearing that they hadn’t read the books, and I have some hot-tempered opinions about the series, the author and the “Oh, isn’t he portraying women well!” hoopla. Never mind that my friends, N and G call it the Game of Boobs. 

As a literature major/teacher, I have several gripes with GOT. As a reader, I have more than several gripes with GOT and as a writer, I have some gripes with GOT. I’m going on record as being pro-book. I generally advised my students to read the books before seeing the film or TV adaptation. Books generally provide the details and back stories that films and TV shows have to trim for the sake of timing. I’m not against film or TV adaptations. BBC’s Pride and Prejudice is on my all time favorite list. Bones is a tidy wrap up of Kathy Reich’s series.  Warm Bodies was a great translation of the book. Hunger Games did a wonderful job of pushing a lot of information into the flashback scene about Catniss’s father. Was it missing some critical elements? Sure, but you can’t fit everything into a film. There’s some wiggle room with TV, but not much. I’ve recently been advised by one of my writing gurus, shout out to Elizabeth, to start the screenplay for The Esau Emergence. Add it to my To Do list.

Last night when the discussion turned to GOT, I voiced my objections to the series and the author and the pacing of the storytelling and I blurted out a spoiler that is one of my biggest peeves with the turn the story has taken. It’s a primary reason I will deliberate extensively about continuing on if the sixth book drops. Our friend, S, was angry and hurt that I threw out the spoiler. My passionate retort was, “Read the bloody books. You’re invested in the TV series, read the books.” I’ve seen this rallying cry on discussion lines after the Red Wedding. TV viewers versus book readers. I”m not embarrassed to say I’m in the book reader camp. It’s a rare event that I don’t read the book before seeing the film. I was damn glad I did in the case of We Bought A Zoo. While the movie was fine, the book was much more poignant and meaningful without the Hollywood tropes.

Our friend, S, demanded to know if I was going to rake him over the coals because he didn’t have time to read the books, because he’d heard the books were difficult and challenging and LONG, and was I going to drop spoilers into the conversation on principle? Note, I’m not dropping spoilers on principle, I dropped the spoiler because I didn’t realize he hadn’t read the books. In the heat of the conversation, I replied, “Hell yes, I’m going to hold you accountable for not reading the book. You’re literate, educated and intelligent! I’m a literature major. I’m a teacher of literature!” Commenting on the film or show if you haven’t read the novel is like trying to bake a souffle without even glancing at a recipe.

The better analogy is this…..S is a classic Porsche racer. He’s a driving instructor for Porsche racing. We’ve asked him to teach the boys to handle a car. I acknowledge him to be an expert. S frequently grouses about Porsche owners who have too much car and zero know how or experience driving those cars. Last year, he was sure a driver on a rally he attended was going to wreck his stunning, brand new Cayman just having met the man. Sure enough, the guy drifted into the side of a mountain. He didn’t completely wreck his Porsche, but damage in any form is expensive. S felt a bit vindicated and railed on his righteous topic of learning how to drive your car.

This is how I feel about S not reading the GOT novels. Now, ironically, I wouldn’t recommend the GOT series to anyone primarily because it has caused me so much distress. Spoiler alert….Martin kills EVERYONE. That’s not much of a spoiler alert because whether or not you’ve read the books or been watching the show, you know characters die at an alarming rate. That’s not the only reason for my friction with the series, but I’ll leave that alone.  I apologized to S….I didn’t mean to squash him or demean his choice, his level of busy or the books he’s read. This is an example of my weak salability…see my post on Complexity and Likability.

I’m passionate about literature, writing and storytelling in all forms. I wouldn’t put my book out if I didn’t think it was a good read. It’s not To Kill A Mockingbird….another wonderful book that everyone should read AND the best all time adaptation of a book EVER. My book is a page turner, what I would call a beach read. It’s like Jurassic Park or Jaws (another great movie adaptation). I write literary non-fiction….it may turn into literary fiction. I don’t know. This screenplay idea of Elizabeth’s excites me….I dreamt last night I was helping cast the film. I know film and TV can’t put everything from the book out there. Screenwriters do their best to adapt, hit or miss. I believe that drivers should know how to drive their car. Viewers  should be critical thinkers, critical readers of the media their digesting. I believe that to do that you should read the book.

I don’t think less of S for choosing not to read GOT….I won’t be reading any more of them. I won’t be paying to watch HBO’s GOT. We did buy season one and I was nonplussed. I may tune in when they add it to the Netflix or Amazon Prime stream. Also, they killed Sean Bean…..way to tick me off. Can’t anyone cast that man in a film without stabbing him, shooting him or cutting off his head?! Sean Bean Dies In Everything Sorry, I digress. I challenged our own kids to read everything….there were no limits on their choices. I challenged my students to do the same. (Parents weren’t too thrilled with that sometimes….but if you let your kid see JIgsaw and you quake over Harry Potter….PUHlease.)

My passion for literature and devouring it in all forms bubbled up and out. Unfortunately, S was in the steam roller path. That being said….READ THE BOOK!