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tv and movies

poppy brite wrote this on her livejournall, which caught my attention:

"I remember one of the hot horror writers of the '80s once bragging to me with a smug little grin that he had never read THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. I think that was when I began to realize what I disliked about a lot of modern horror fiction: too many of its authors are far more influenced by movies and TV than by literature. They haven't read the classics of their own genre, let alone any other classics, and don't consider it important or even necessary to do so."

which is interesting, i think, because i've long thought that the speculative fiction genre and its authors have become more and more influenced by movies and tv. this is a pretty broad statement, naturally, and for every one incident i can think where it is true, i can think of one where it isn't, but to my liking, that's a bit too much, this fifty fifty business. i'm not even removing myself entirely from this equation: my allandros and balor stories are a mix of influences, from fritz leiber's mouser and fafhrd, old faerie lore, and the sergio leone eastwood westerns. it's all jammed together, mixed in, an equal influence, but the leone films are there--and indeed, you could ask why not be influenced by eddison, and other writers that came before? but i'm getting side tracked, and will twist back to what brite said, and leave it pretty much at that.

occasionally, however, i think that some authors are influenced this way because they want to sell the rights to their novels and get them made into films, where more money and more fame awaits. (or, in some cases, a perceived in on writing scripts.) those books are always bland, generic affairs, and get made into bland generic films.

at the moment, prose is not subject to rating, outside pornography and a few novels, like american psycho. you can put things into prose that'll never make it into a film or tv show.

i keep waiting for people to say that more often.


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Jan. 12th, 2004 07:55 pm (UTC)
It's a point. (And, as has been said before, there are those fantasy writers who consider the Dungeon and Dragons Monster Manual as primary source material...)

I guess some people see novels as a cheap way to get across a story (ie, like what they sort on telly), as opposed to something that is well-written in itself, let alone with any sort of history. SF seems particularly bad for that sort of thing, since fiction and film are so far apart, but everything has its problems.

David C
(Who is, um, watching a lot of movies as research for his game book)
Jan. 13th, 2004 08:59 pm (UTC)
so... do you mean novels or scripts? i'm a bit confused about the whole novels as a cheap way to get the story across. i suppose you could mean in production: cheaper to use your imagination, you know?

actually now that i thik about it, i figure that this is what you mean, which i agree with, and find depressing, because there are a lot easier things to do that write fiction, and if people are doing it because it's cheaper... blah. how horrible. it also seems to be missing the many advantages to prose, as it is a different medium to film/tv, and both have different pros and cons.
Jan. 13th, 2004 05:19 am (UTC)
This leads to another problem, as weel: most of the speculative/horror stuff coming out of Hollywood is not particularly original or very good, so genre writers are being influenced by crap.

I still think, though, that the more interesting speculative fiction stuff is mostly confined to prose writing. This is going to be changing as CGI continues to improve, but at the moment, film focuses more on spectacle than thinking -- and even when attempts at thought are made (say Minority Report) the real concern is, "Does Tom Cruise look good in this shot, and does that look cool or what," instead of "Does the ending of this film make sense to anyone? How bloody stupid is the bad guy, anyway? Are we taking clues from James Bond films, and if so, can we at least make sure everybody is better dressed?"

I would say that the only genre somewhat unaffected by a television/movie influence would be the romance genre, but then again, I don't read a lot of that, so I really wouldn't know.

Jan. 13th, 2004 09:03 pm (UTC)
yes, i agree with your faults on tom cruise.

anyhow, i don't know much about romance either, but i think big heroic fantasy has mostly gotten away without being influenced too heavily by tv/movies. outside a few notable exceptions, big fantasy is usually filmed quite poorly, and the books instead have fed off each other, creatign their own circle of similar plots, and bad fiction. perhaps this is one of the attractions to big fantasy novels? i dunno. i'm just saying off the top of my head, and i am sure someone can prove me wrong.
Jan. 13th, 2004 09:20 pm (UTC)
It seems right to me -- but will it change now there is a big heroic fantasy movie that lots of people like? The end could be nigh.

David C
(Who things Minority Report was a much better movie than generally given credit for)
Jan. 13th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC)
well, i think, that lotr is so heavily tied to the books that it's not a film in of itself. perhaps if it was of a lesser known book, but really, we're talking the books that constantly top peoples hundred favourite books, beating out the bible. so... i dunno. i would probably say not, but then, maybe something will come along and change that.

(there's also part of me that wants to put forward the idea the the lotr films were more like the heroic trilogy fantasy being written now, rather than a direct tolkien thing. the books influenced the film in the way that they influenced a whole bunch of people writing big fantasy. does that make sense though?)

and i thought minority report looked pretty, started out mildly interesting, but got dumb and dumber as it went along. like the bit with the rolling eye.
Jan. 14th, 2004 03:59 am (UTC)
We'll just get more elephant surfing scenes in books.

As for Minority Report, I really liked it. The only thing that bugged me was the eye doctor guy -- his dislike of Tommy Boy never really went anywhere. It wasn't Blade Runner, but it was a lot closer than pretty much anything else for ages (and vastly better than A.I.)
Jan. 14th, 2004 04:14 am (UTC)
i mainly found that when i wanted it to be interesting, it wasn't. but maybe that's the nature of pkd books and the films inspired by them, since i have no real love for bladerunner. that said, i do think fondly of screamers...

i hated a.i. though. (which has nothing to do with pkd.)

but with a lot of science fiction films, i often find myself saying, don't go there, that doesn't interest me. go here. solaris was another example.

as for lotr, i suspect more dwarf jokes and cool, omnipotent, good looking elves will be what we get.
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