All right. All right. I’m not telling anyone they cannot have an opinion. You can. (Of course.) But I wanted to discuss an upsetting trend that bothers me down in my fandom core.
Readers ALWAYS hate every adaptation. And it isn’t just hate. It’s very loud, very aggressive, very complete hate. Welcome, fandom mobs.
I get it. I do. I am a reader before I am a writer. I’m in many fandoms, and I am in love with many worlds and characters and storylines, and they mean more to me than words on a page. Those worlds were my safe places when I wanted to escape. Those characters were my friends when I felt alone. Those storylines were my explorations when I couldn’t leave my home. Seeing them butchered is like witnessing the mockery of something you love. I get it. But don’t pick up the pitchfork yet.
Adaptations are adaptations. They are not a mockery, because they are not the same thing. The adaptations are inspired by the books we love, and we must keep that in mind…and we need that mind to be an open mind.
The reason movie and television producers pick up books and create adaptations is because there is already an audience. That audience, hopefully, will attend first, and then encourage others to attend too…even despite differences. If anything, I remember differences being another form of entertainment. When Harry Potter first started releasing (when I was 11), my friend delighted in explaining what was different, but she never said it was wrong or terrible or discouraged me from trying it out for myself. If anything, it made me consider reading the books, and she offered me her first one to borrow so I could catch up by the sequel’s release.
This is what we, as a fandom, need to concentrate on. We want to encourage new readers and viewership so they can make their own opinions…even if you don’t like the adaptation…and that means concentrating on being positive. A newcomer is not going to pick up a book if that book is in the hands of an angry mob with pitchforks. But if you sit back and—in the least—enjoy discussing everything, maybe they will pick up that book and join your awesome fandom.
The reason I wanted to talk about this, as I’m sure many of you know, is due to the second adaptation of The Mortal Instruments. The 2013 movie bombed, and now, the TV show has released. Personally, I loved the movie. I also enjoy the TV show. I’m not picky. (Obvs.) I read the book, and I know this isn’t the book. In fact, the producers made that quite clear. To me, as long as they get the “mood” of the characters, I’m pretty happy. In fact the show changed the overall tone of the story for me. As a reader, the books were a dark paranormal comedy, but the show is cheese all around. You know what? That’s okay. I could use some more cheese in my life. And one of my favorite parts of this entire experience was calling up my best friend to discuss the differences between the books and the show, because we read them together years ago and reread them together again. (Chernobyl, seriously?)
Then, as opinions rolled out, I saw it happen again. Just like the movie. The mob came out.
The disturbing trend of absolute hate in this adaptation, not once but twice, is a great example of the consequences that could follow if we keep doing this.
When the movie released, everyone hated it. Hated it. Now that the show is out, I see more love for the movie than ever. I do find it ironic that everyone is suddenly talking about how much they loved The Mortal Instruments movie now that they dislike the TV show. Granted, marketing had a lot to do with the movie’s failure as well, but the fandom had a huge hand in it.
All the complaining about the movie convinced no outsiders to see the movie, and the poor sales caused the sequel’s cancelation.
So…where were all these “lovers of the movie” back then? I know I didn’t see many, because I felt rather alone in how much I enjoyed it. I saw it twice—in a nearly empty theatre both times—and I’ve watched it over a dozen times total. My DVD copy sits on my DVD player at all times. Other TMI fans even made me feel like a bad TMI fan because I liked it, but I still talked about how much I loved it. Don’t be afraid to say you enjoyed it, and don’t attack fellow fans. This is where we go wrong…but please don’t get me wrong. I had my dislikes about the movie as well. (Alec, for one, who I actually enjoyed in the TV show.) And I was vocal about that to my friend. That being said, I also gushed over Lily and Jamie and even Raphael. I told everyone I knew to at least try it out or to read the books. I also explained a lot of the missing elements to the friends who checked it out and wanted to know more.
It’s okay to complain or discuss differences, but try to be positive. This is a fandom, after all. You want more people to join it. Why not explain some differences of the show to newcomers and encourage them to get the book?
I might tell people I liked this or I disliked that, but I try to focus on what I liked the most. I try to tie it into the book. I try to do what my friend did for me all those years back with Harry Potter. I sit down with them and talk about it and explain questions the adaptations might not have covered and I encourage them to get the book and see for themselves.
Don’t let your fandom turn into a mob. Fandoms are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be exhilarating and great. A place where all fans can come together and be friends and discuss and draw pictures and write fan-fiction and celebrate the books.
If we keep doing this, our fandoms will no longer be fandoms; they will be mobs. And those mobs are going to take out all future adaptations. Eventually, there will be no reason for producers to pick up a book’s crowd.
Read, encourage, repeat.
But, most of all, have fun again,
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16 thoughts on “#ReaderProblems Fandoms vs. Mobs”
I could kiss you for this. The book is not ALWAYS BETTER. I personally find the “Maze Runner” movies far better than the books. And sometimes, neither one is better – they’re just different. See “Gone Girl.”
Not to mention, when people say “the movies have less detail so they’re worse”, I could tear my hair out. Who decided that detail is directly proportional to quality? Because I’m delighted that Peter Jackson *showed* us Middle Earth in a few frames instead of forcing us to read 5 pages of description via the Tolkien book. I’m glad when extraneous B-plots get cut, or an overstuffed cast of forgettable characters is compressed into three people. I see this problem constantly these days, where people get way too zoned in on details and miss the big picture (like all the nitpicky flack about The Force Awakens….ugh.)
And you’re so right that movies are gateways to fandoms. I read Divergent after seeing the film. In that case, I did find the book more satisfactory, because that story was mostly about virtual simulations and Tris’s thoughts and it didn’t translate as well to film. The movie wasn’t bad, but you lost the feeling of “stakes” when it didn’t translate that Tris’s happiness was what’s really at stake.
I love all of the examples you used here! It’s the perfect discussion of why we – as a fandom – need to have discussions (rather than just attacking everything we see). I’m sure that what you just said about Divergent would excite someone enough to pick up the book, and that’s exactly what fandoms should want, more members! 😀 Thank you for reading and commenting.
I’m not part of this fandom, but I do know what you mean about being hung out to dry my others that claim to love the same thing as you do. Lots of people hate the Star Wars prequels (whereas I quite like them) and they are like a dog with a bone, they will not let go about how bad the movies are and how they ruined the franchise. It made me question whether I’m right about my opinion until I remembered something. I don’t care what people think about my opinion. I came to this conclusion with the Hobbit Films; I absolutely adore the films and yes I know there is a lot more story in the films than in the book, and making a ten hours film of a short children’s book sounds ridiculous, but it didn’t stop it from being brilliant. I think it helped that while I’m a massive Tolkien fan, I can’t stand the book because it is a boys-only adventure; the films made it a modern story with women. That on its own made it better.
Great post, it’s really made me have a good think about my opinions and how they differ from others of my fandoms.
I’m glad you enjoyed the post! (I also enjoyed the Star Wars prequels and went through what you did.) It’s strange how fans of the same thing will attack other fans. We’re here to enjoy the entertainment and share it with others. Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂
I love the Star Wars prequels as well! And I’ve run into the same comments about how bad they are. Excellent point also, on how Jackson updated the hobbit story. It’s quite an old example, but books to film, I love both versions of Secret Garden. Different genre, but still. I think the two mediums almost require a difference in story telling in many cases. For example, we wouldn’t scan slowly through a hobbit house like a sort of still life film but we will read a couple of paragraphs in a book setting the stage, though more recently published books often borrow techniques from film and television and getting straight to the story.
I think that most people forget that books and films/tv shows are a different medium. Books only have words, whereas film is visual and audio. Those medium require different techniques because people react to them differently; i write both and to write the same story in both I have to pick different things to highlight.
Oh and I love the Secret Garden as well; the book had a great tone and the time-lapse growth in the film was very complimentary to the story.
Agreed. There’s a true sensory difference.
Very well said and this is something I’ve been trying to figure out as I watch ‘Shannara Chronicles’. I never read the books, so I’m in the dark about the source material. Yet, people are livid about what’s being done. Unless they never read the books and then they’re okay. I can never get that worked up because, like you said, I see it as an alternate telling and realize that there will always be differences. Learned that from the Elves showing up at Helm’s Deep in Two Towers. Though I’ll admit ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy had me riled in private. There’s a big difference between hating the adaptation and stating your opinion and then actively trying to stop people from even attempting to form their own ideas about it. I’m reminded about the later Harry Potter movies and a few friends that despised the changes, so they tried to get other people to avoid seeing them. Meanwhile, I never got through the books, so I’m blissfully munching on popcorn and wondering why they needed a 2 part ending.
Truth is that I think it’s becoming a cultural/Internet thing. Rants and negativity get a lot more attention and stir conversations than being positive. If you claim to like the adaptation then you get attacked on forums and have a hard time defending yourself because you need facts. If you claim to hate it then people seem to join your side or you can simply start name calling and demand the other person prove the adaptation is good. Just a bizarre and rather disappointing method of communication that makes me avoid fandoms. I mean, I love a bunch of stuff, but I stay in my own corner these days. The mob appears far too easily.
I agree! I think the negativity has grown exponentially, almost like it’s the “cool” thing to do (or like you’re not a “real” fan if you enjoy the adaptation at all). Alas, I will enjoy my adaptations and discussions I have with fellow readers, no matter the changes.
I’ve heard both of those reasons for hating something. The ‘real’ fan one is always baffling because it goes against the fact that there are different levels of fandom. I think a lot of it has to do with what a person is exposed to first and how. Lot of ways that can happen too.
What an excellent point about what it is like to have an opinion; I really hate that you have to justify liking something. I’m the complete opposite I prefer people trying to explain to me why they dislike something.
I understand people loving something and not being able to put their finger on exactly why, but for me at least when I don’t like something even if it takes me a while to think it through, I usually come up with a reason.
Me too. Especially if I really don’t like it. I want to know why so I can explain my opinion. Strange thing is that it really is so much easier to figure out why you don’t like something. Even if it’s one character that drove you nuts or a single scene that ruined it for you, at least it’s something.
YES! I have to say, I’m not overly in love with the TV show at the minute, but it has some great actors, and great potential once it picks up. Pilot series are usually weaker for all of our now beloved shows when you go back and watch them again (Friends, Charmed, Buffy and One Tree Hill to name a few!). I HATE mob mentality – but I do think adaptations of books have a… duty (?) to stay true to it as much as possible, because it is the essence of the original story that has drawn the audience to it. Sure, some things may need to change, or come across better on screen, but changing cultures, personalities, and plot-lines is often plain weird, and usually back-fires. I have to say though, I loved the movie too, and have it on DVD. It was a shame it wasn’t allowed to continue, ESPECIALLY now all these movie lovers have come out of the woodworks. I felt the same as you, I didn’t feel comfortable telling people I loved the movie because everyone usually replied with, “WUT?! It was awful.”
I also enjoyed the movie, and actually love it more each time I see it. Favorite part is when the vampires are closing in and the techno beat kicks in. I own and love that soundtrack!
I also enjoy the tv show. I think most of the casting is better in the tv adaption, although I loved the original Clary and Simon. Like you, I can appreciate that these are inspired by the books, but I am not expecting an exact replication, because no one can replicate what’s in my head and the heads of millions of other fans. Great post, Shannon!