In my mind, film and literature walk hand-in-hand–after all, this blog began as one for my Senior Capstone film class while at Western Kentucky University, and I spent most of my time reviewing episodes of Big Little Lies and Better Call Saul. Throughout my undergraduate experience as a film major, I often turned to studies of literature and adaptation, as well as film criticism, to enter into the academic conversation, so to speak. There were no official “tracks” to guide me during my pursuit of a film degree, yet there were two that I noticed: the “production track,” where students were molded to enter the industry directly, and the “education track,” where students were shuttled into the exciting world of academia. Although I have production experience, I gleefully took the second track. And now here I am in an English Graduate program. No regrets.
The idea of adaptation is one that is fraught with debate, not only among me and my friends, but among culture as a whole; if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “yeah, but the book is always better,” I’d drop out of school and pay people to tell me how good my writing is. The thing is that no, the book isn’t always better, and oftentimes that comparison is wholly unjust. The book/comic/essay/whatever and the film/television show/whatever it’s based on are two different things, and should be evaluated as such. In my apartment my book shelf and media shelf are standing right next to each other, and I’m looking at how many titles appear in both. The previously mentioned Big Little Lies is a superb novel, but an awe-inspiring television series that is among the best I’ve ever seen. Still, I don’t see the series as any less than the novel, and vice versa. Stephen King’s The Green Mile is very similar to Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the same name, but I find myself appreciating both of them. Books and film make people feel connections to the works, in different ways. I can’t spend my life lessening one work of art in service to another so I won’t do it. If I were in consideration for a directorship in some English-Film department in the future, I’d campaign on a pro-fidelity criticism platform. (More on that later in my graduate school life, I’m sure.)
This is all an extended introduction to what I’m currently working on now. I won’t spoil it for anyone, and I’d like for whoever to read it to enter the reading experience semi-blind, but I’ll say that it’s a kind of a reverse adaptation: taking something from film into a heavily fictionalized piece of short fiction. Maybe it’s a foolproof answer to the question if the source text is better than it’s adaptation? I won’t get ahead of myself.
Pop culture that has made me happy these past few weeks: The Dinner by Herman Koch, for class; The Best American Short Stories of 1999, for pleasure; the audiobook version of Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, for peace of mind (politics aside it’s a remarkable tale of a woman dealing with a supreme loss, and it’s helped me get through a confusing time in my life); Insecure, because Issa Rae is a wonderful writer-actor; American Horror Story: Cult, because I’m a sucker for television that I fully acknowledge is not of great merit; and the works of Stevie Nicks, because if I were alive in the 70’s my celebrity crush would have been too much for me to handle.