Friday, June 12, 2015

Like most of reality, it's complicated...

You raise some interesting points about storytelling in different mediums, and I'll do my best to address those, but I think a point that's often overlooked in book v. film discussions is that too many people spend far too much time worrying about "accuracy" and not nearly enough time worrying about meaning and aesthetic value. 

However, to your point, if a film or television show makes the claim that their material is "based on the such-and-such trilogy," then they should operate with at least a modicum of loyalty to their source material.  To that end though, the demands and realities of screenwriting for film and writing for novels have to also be taken into account.  When a single writer is sitting at her desk creating a story intended to be printed, she isn't worried about which actors will play which characters or how difficult it may be to render each setting onto the screen.  She's just writing a story.  Later on, when her stories become world-wide bestselling children's novels, people in the film industry then have to make those considerations.  So I also think we should give a bit of autonomy to the screenwriters and show runners whose jobs are to take this individually conjured complicated masterpiece and turn it into something which--hopefully--successfully is perceived by viewers as "authentic," "loyal," and meaningful.

I probably make a similar point about most subjects, whether it's a severely important political matter or a more banal matter like book v. film, but reality is extremely complicated.  Humans are complicated, and every issue we discuss is also complicated.  I tend to be skeptical of oversimplifications and generalizations.  Books aren't always better than their movies.  What matters is how the material (book or film) is received by its audience. 

We also have to consider the infinitely nuanced and unrealistic expectations that readers of stories carry with them into viewing a film adaptation of a text. (i.e "That character was killed by being stabbed in the chest with an enchanted Dragonsword in the book, but in the movie some troll just cut his throat with a mythril dagger!") Who gives a shit?!  I certainly don't.  The questions I try to ask myself when watching a film or TV show are: Is it entertaining?  Is there character development?  Can I learn something from empathizing with any of the characters' experiences?  Is it trying to make a statement metaphorically, and if so is it salient?  Last on my mind is "did they follow every pedantic plot point exactly?"

The amazing and seemingly magical thing about books is that every time another reader picks up a book and starts reading, and entirely different world emerges in her head, unique from any other reader's experience.  Do we honestly expect screenwriters and filmmakers to accommodate every reader's experience?

So yes, filmmakers and screenwriters, in the event that they expressly say they are adapting a text for the screen, have some obligation to at least attempt to stay loyal to the source text.  However, viewers should keep in mind that the screen is an extremely different medium than the page.  What works well and seems beautiful in prose may come off flat and boring when viewed on a television or in a theater.  Try to keep an open mind and low expectations with film (and probably books as well) and you'll probably have a much better time. 


Monday, June 8, 2015

Is the Book better?

Hey Buddy,

This post isn't about anything important. I just felt like touching base with you. It's been awhile since our last post. As you may know I am a rather large "Game of Thrones" fan. (I mean, I named my daughter Arya) I don't know how much of the show you have watched and how much of "The Song of Ice and Fire" you read if any. I promise zero spoilers.

The HBO storyline and the George R. R. Storyline have some pretty significant discrepancies. As I have watched myself I have become a little torn because some of the differences I like (e.g. Sansa storyline) while others I think were lazy ways to progress the story and much less interesting. (e.g. Gaps in Tyrion's timeline as well as the Dorne Storyline) Now the question I pose to you is this.

Do the screenwriters for film and television owe it to the author and his readers to remain "authentic" to the original story or does artistic license mean that the fans should see this work as an
"Ode to"?

As you think about this I would like to bring up the recent trilogy of "The Hobbit". Now, my personal edition of "The Hobbit" is only 276 pages long and not quite long enough to make 3 very long films with. That being said, I absolutely loved both the novel and the trilogy. I found it fun and fresh adding more scenes and bringing back characters from LOTR that weren't in Tolkien's original Hobbit novel. If you haven't realized it yet. I try to enjoy both mediums for what they are. Although, sometimes I find myself not being able to enjoy one over the other.

I know this isn't an in-depth or "Hot Topic" discussion but I felt it was time to break the silence...And I love books.

Stay Gold,

P.S. Axis of Awesome made a hilarious video that is "sort of" about this topic.

Friday, May 8, 2015

American Ironies


Thanks for that response.  It sucks that you have to work with individuals so hostile to speech they disagree with.  One of the great ironies in our country right seems to be the complicated relationship self-proclaimed patriots have with uniquely American values, like nearly uninhibited free speech.  They're all about freedom and democracy until it starts opening their worldview up to perspectives that run contrary to their religious or nationalistic tenets.  They're terrified at the prospect of true diversity. 

I'm actually working on my senior Political Science thesis paper today, and it is very relevant to what we're talking about here.  I'll share it with you when I'm finished.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

National Pride or National Worship


I enjoyed reading your response. It was your honest thoughts. I would rather have an honest response that objects to my personal beliefs than one formulated to comply or coexist in order to make discussion more “pleasant”.

I mentioned in my initial post that I had mixed feelings about this scenario and I will elaborate on it; however, I think I will take a play in your book and say this is about the act of stomping on a flag in protest and not this particular situation.

My initial thought was “That’s stupid.” This may be because I don’t understand how stepping on a flag can create any change for the protesters other than piss off a lot of “patriots”. I also felt slightly guilty because being a veteran I think that I should have more of an emotional attachment to the flag. If I am going to be honest, it doesn’t bother me. I see people stomping on some cloth. I understand that this particular piece of cloth is a symbol but when it comes down to it. It’s still just a bit of cloth.

Coincidently enough, today at work I had overheard a couple of individuals discussing this situation and the cartoonist you mentioned earlier. Person A was of the belief that this was a huge double standard as you have previously stated. (You used the word “ironic” and maybe you didn’t want to be abrasive but I find the word “hypocritical” more appropriate.)  Person B on the other hand stated that he simply didn’t care about freedom of speech and if he saw someone stepping on the flag he’d shoot them. I found this interesting because I had read your response maybe less than an hour or two prior.

Now, I also want to touch on what you said about the nationalistic pride that resembles religious zeal. “There seems to be some form of a religious obsession with nationalistic symbols, which is kind of disturbing.” I would like to take second to applaud this astute observation. I had never noticed the almost cultic worship to the Red, White & Blue. I had always just labeled it as National Pride and nothing more. So when does pride end and worship begin? What does it really mean to be proud to be American? It’s a difficult question when you start to analyze it. It’s just something to chew on until next time.

Stay Gold,


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

So Some People Stepped On The Flag...

Good Morning Klep,

I wasn't familiar with this trend until you brought it up.  I've been super busy with work and finishing college and taking part in some selfish dude's second wedding to the same woman.  ;)  It's difficult to find any unbiased sources about the "flag stomping challenge," but here's what I can gather after doing some quick google research.

-A man named Eric Sheppard was protesting police brutality and racism at Valdosta University in Georgia by stepping on the American flag.

-Obviously, people were upset by it.

-Police found a bookbag believed to belong to Sheppard which contained a firearm.

-Sheppard went into hiding.

-In solidarity with Sheppard, a social media trend started and people began protesting by stepping on the flag, or burning it, and posting it to social media.

-There was also an online fund started to raise money for Sheppard's shelter, travel, and legal expenses.

As for what I think about it, I can't say any specific to this situation because I'm not involved or connected with any aspect of this.  But I can talk about things like free speech, tolerance, and the rights people have to protest.

As a veteran, I don't think I would want to step on the flag to protest.  But I'm also not really offended by it.  I don't identify with the flag like some patriots and veterans.  At least, not in the sense that my emotional state of mind is connected to the well-being of flags and how they're treated or displayed.  There seems to be some form of a religious obsession with nationalistic symbols, which is kind of disturbing.  It always makes me uncomfortable when I see people who are livid after seeing someone burn or mistreat a flag, because it reminds of the sort of anger you expect to see on a religious fundamentalist's face after saying something not-so-nice about their god(s) or prophet(s).

Considering some of the overlapping demographics in this case to the cartoon event in Texas that was attacked by a couple of radical Islamic militants recently, it's ironic to see some patriots promoting free speech values in the case of the cartoon, but criticizing the use of free speech by some frustrated citizens in the flag stomping case.  Free speech is, and should remain, ubiquitous.   It applies equally to civil rights activists and white supremacists.  Free speech isn't always a pretty thing, and I don't think it's intended to be pleasant.  It's intended to be useful.  It's intended to ensure--against all rhetoric or sensationalism to the contrary--that all avenues of communication remain open.  As long as free speech exists, we will continue to have vigorous and open debates.  As soon as you start limiting free speech, you inevitably start closing channels of communication.

I'm not sure if this is the answer you were looking for, but there it is.  Let me know what you think.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stomp the Flag Challenge?

Evening Jo,

So I realized we talked about this a week or two ago and neither of us had posted anything. I decided to pull the trigger but at the same throw you under the bus a little. I don't have much to say on the topic but I am curious as to your opinions on the "Stomp on the Flag" Challenge.

It's pretty easy to see that this has outraged many of "Social Media America". And if I am going to be honest I have some mixed feelings on the subject but in essence I want to hear some other points of view on this.

Stay Gold,