Scatology 101

I started this project on the premise of making a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy blog for an American Studies class. I know it doesn't really make sense but it did in my proposal.
When I started talking to fellow students (most of whom are 15 years younger), I discovered that most of them have not read the book, and have seen the movie. Most of them thought the movie sucked. Well, It got me pondering over the state of culture, literature and film. What I decided is; if American culture (responsible for Hollywood) was more open to reading, more receptive to reading things from other cultures, and more responsive to international film, not only would less crap come out of Hollywood, but less good stuff would be turned into cultural diarrhea. And thus I present to you the answer without knowing the question..

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hollywood's oil to literature's water

When it comes to big screen adaptations of great pieces of literature, Hollywood often shows that most writers have either never read a great book, or don't care about those fans at all.

When it is done correctly, you can take a masterpiece and take it to a whole new level. Take George Orwell's "1984" for instance. It was a powerful literary work by a great writer. When the movie was released in 1984, it took the narrative and brought it to life. You were able to feel the issues that Orwell intended.

Most times, however, Hollywood writers seem to think that as long as they say "based on the book", they can do whatever they wish to the storyline and plot. One of the more mild offenders, but one that still annoyed me to no end, was the big screen edition of "Jurassic Park" Yes, the storyline was basically intact, but when you let characters survive that died in the book, that's just plain wrong.

Even the big budget flop that was "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" didn't fail to disappoint. I have been a fan of all five books in the trilogy for many years. When I heard that they were finally going to bring Douglas Adams' brilliant epic to the big screen, I was overjoyed. I knew that Hollywood had a habit of crapping all over great books, but I thought that with the books and the radio plays all pretty straight forward, there would be no way they could make a total disaster of it. Boy was I wrong!

It starts off benignly. I never pictured Ford Prefect as a black guy, but that's just semantics. The story follows along very close to the books for a bit. All of 11 minutes. Now, the introduction of Zaphod Beeblebrox shouldn't have been hard. A pirate, with a covered cage on his shoulder. Easy peasy. Nope, they had to completely screw with a character that is central to the story. It just gets worse from there. Leaving aside the character issues, the script goes completely off the rails just a short 10 minutes later. Yes, I know that the scene with Arthur and Ford being brought to the bridge was more than likely cut for time, but is crucial in understanding the Vogons.

I could go on and on, but the more I write, the more depressed that I would get. Hollywood and the literary world will no longer mix, and the world will be the worse off for it.

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