I like books. I like the way they smell, the way they feel, the way the pages slip through your fingers before giving you a dozen paper cuts. I like the way Times New Roman font looks against white paper. I like holding another world in your hands and feeling the weight of the words. I like their covers. I like their back-covers. Occasionally, I like the content.
I also like movies. The combination of visual effects, effective casting, and cinematography create an experience that cannot be matched by any other medium. Movies can make you feel things. They can show you two actors (whom you know, through one magazine or another, are not in a relationship/dating/cuddling) and make you truly believe they are in love, to the point where, three minutes in, you have gone through a Costco-sized collection of tissue boxes and are beginning to question the true meaning of “love.”
Why do you care about what I’m saying? Or, rather, why should you care, other than the fact that you are my dutiful readers and must value everything I say? (This is a cult, right?) Because, while I appreciate the power of both film and literature, I am hesitant to mix them together and you should be too, not because all film adaptations are bad, but because I believe audiences should question the content they’re consuming before completely ingesting it. Though I am partial to the anti-adaptation team, it is important to consider both sides.
Reasons Against Film Adaptations
They Perpetuate Laziness
As the age of technology reaches its peak, humans are becoming more averse to tackling challenging reading material than ever before. You never hear someone say, “I just want a really difficult read, you know?” Movie adaptations, in some ways, can be considered an extension of that ideology. If you don’t want to read the book, watch the movie. If you don’t want to watch the movie, read the summary on SparkNotes. If you don’t want to read the summary, read the back cover and hope for the best. It seems that the path of least resistance is becoming smoother by the second.
They Help Non-Readers Become Faux-Readers
Readers used to possess their own sort of exclusive culture. People could get together and discuss books in depth, and feel connected with those around them merely through their mutual excitement. Take the Harry Potter craze, for example. If you are in a group of people that are chatting about Harry Potter and you have not read Harry Potter, you automatically become the outcast. I’m not trying to encourage the exclusion of your less bookish friends. (Yes I am.) I’m just pointing out that reading is kind of like Greek Life, without the public humiliation and weekly blackouts. There’s a certain camaraderie behind it that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. However, if books are the door to that literary culture, then movies are the disruptive, misunderstood cop that likes to kick doors in while needlessly firing a machine gun. Or, if that metaphor didn’t do it for you, imagine if the outcast went and watched the Harry Potter movies instead of reading the books. They wouldn’t have the same level of information as those who had pushed through all 7 stories but they would know enough about the series to re-enter the conversation and make the transition from outcast to friend group again. Movies let people into that VIP book culture while removing the hassle of actually reading the books.
They Eliminate Personal Interpretation
Perhaps the most important reason books should remain books (and ONLY books) is that they were made to be interpreted differently. The character that I envision in my head will not be the same as my best friend’s, no matter how intertwined our thoughts are, and the message that I take away will differ – in fact, it should. To make a movie about The Great Gatsby is to establish a solitary image for each character, setting, and scene. In other words, movie adaptations remove the privilege of developing your own personal interpretation. (If you watch the new Gatsby movie before you read the book, you will find it difficult to imagine Jay looking like anyone else because that image was already provided for you.)