The Vengeful Polyglot

The Great Debate

Posted on: May 4, 2011

I think everyone has a few key issues in their life on which their opinions will never change. Maybe it’s the existence of God, or your political affiliation (though having gone to college, I’ve seen a lot of people change such “immutable” opinions every other week). Maybe you love Carl Sagan, and really think that if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you first have to invent the universe. For me, it’s that books will always be better than their film adaptations. Any book. Any film. I’m more than happy to debate heavy issues, like politics or religion (well… maybe not “more than happy”), and I’m fairly competitive so I tend to get really invested in arguments like that. But you’ll never see me more snotty than when someone mentions a new movie coming out and I turn up my nose and say, “Well, but it won’t be better than the book.”

This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy movies, even ones made from books. Just that I think that they can’t possibly convey the same level of depth and loving detail that a book can. Anyone who has ever seen a Harry Potter movie with me can attest to this. I sit there, whispering furiously to my poor, captive companion about all of the differences from the book, which I read waiting in line for the midnight showing. I complain feverishly about inaccuracies and plot holes. The first time I went with my boyfriend, he turned to me with this really disappointed face and said, “You really hated it?” I was stymied — “No, I loved it!” I think I saw it three more times in theaters. I just really form emotional connections to the book, and nothing is ever going to compare to the level of knowing the characters, or the level of set up, that can be done in a written media versus a visual one. It’s great, but it’s still not better than the book.

Most people I’m around enough have gotten used to my book snobbery. They know if I say, “I can’t see that yet; I need to read the book first,” that they’re not going to convince me to go earlier (this goes double for horror or thriller films — while I love that stuff in books, it scares the bejeezus out of me on the screen, even if I already know exactly what’s going to happen). But still, there are some, who when faced with my literary elitism, look at me like this:

I’m familiar with this response. It’s pretty much the same response I get from certain people when I say I’m afraid of rollercoasters, or that I don’t like cheese. They think I just haven’t met the right ____ yet, and that it’s their moral imperative to teach me what I’ve been missing. This generally ends in tears, but once it’s done, it’s usually done for good (until the next person comes along, at least).

Not so for the film buffs. It probably doesn’t help that about half of my friends are just on the verge of graduating from USC Cinema School. If one doesn’t work, they’ll just try another. Liz, I’m looking at you! Liz continually defies my snobbery and will argue with me that Kubrick’s The Shining is better than King’s. (IT’S NOT, THIS IS BLASPHEMY.) It’s fun to mess around debating it, though, even though I doubt either of us will ever change our minds… especially since I don’t think she’s ever made it fully though the book, and likewise for me and the movie! And lest she get mad at me, Liz does love reading, as well as film (she probably loves books moreso than I like film, considering she’s gone so far as to write one).

It was just that this weekend, as she was telling me that she had to compare and contrast the two versions of The Shining but only wanted to read the last four chapters to see how the ends differed that it made me think, “No! The descent into madness! The sympathetic villain! The magical Negro! It’s not just the end that was changed!” And hearing how utterly conceited I sounded pretty much confirmed that I’ll probably be a book nerd forever, and people should just ignore me along with all other unreasonable fundamentalists. 😛

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Blog by a programmer cum linguist cum writer cum total geek. One who pretentiously uses "cum" in place of any other logical connectives. Direct questions to the Ask Lauren page!

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