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Book versions vs. movie versions

I’m not terribly active on my Pinterest account; most of the activity I have there is my sister forwarding me stuff and asking my opinion on it. (Part of why I’m not more active there is, in fact, that Pinterest has made a lot of its systems frickin’ unusable, and there’s only so much patience I have for that. But that’s a topic for another post.) One of the items she sent me this past weekend was this one.

And, given that I had a reaction to this that I don’t think my sister entirely expected, I thought it might be useful to write out my thoughts in blog form.

Overall, I have an issue with what this screencap implies. Which is to say, not only is it coming across with the theme of “the book version of a story is inherently superior to the movie version of a story”, it’s got a side helping of snarking at the fans of the movie version. My sister didn’t parse it that way, but I did, and this is why: because in each of the shown examples, the book fan is responding to the movie fan by asking if they like a character who only appears in the books.

And if the movie fan hasn’t read the books, they have no possible way to answer that question.

Now, if you assume that the hypothetical book fan and the hypothetical movie fan have not specified which version of the story they’re talking about, then okay, I’m fine with the conversations as portrayed. But the way they came across to me, particularly given the “see, this is why we read the books as well as watch the movies” responses in the screencap, is that the assumption is that the book fan knows that the movie fan is talking about the movie(s), and not the book(s).

In which case, if:

  1. You’re the fan of a book version of a story,
  2. You see a movie fan exulting that they like the movie version of a story,
  3. You know they’re talking about the movie version, and
  4. You ask them what they think of a character who appears only in the books…

…then all due respect, but at least to me, you’re coming across pretty snotty there. And that’s exactly how it read to me in the conversational examples between Movie Fans and Book Fans.

And I have a couple problems with this.

One, as I’ve written before, I highly dislike anything that goes in a direction of “you’re enjoying this thing wrong because you’re not enjoying it the same way I am.” This is true for SF/F vs. romance, Mac vs. PC, Windows vs. Linux, Coke vs. Pepsi, Classic Doctor Who vs. New Doctor Who, or whatever. So I am not on board with giving movie fans shit for preferring the movie version of a story over the book version, particularly if the movie fans haven’t even had a chance to check out the book version yet.

Two, I have issues in general with the automatic assumption that the book version of a story is inherently superior to the movie version.

Okay yeah sure, I get that “the book version is the original and tells the story the way the author intended” as a powerful motivator here. I mean, yo, I’m a devoted reader and a writer, so believe me, I get that. Books are powerful. Books are personal, and a good book makes you develop a strong bond to it.

I also get that movie/TV adaptations of a beloved book or book series can often suck. Ursula K. LeGuin comes to mind here, as to date, I am aware of at least two lackluster attempts to do something with the Earthsea books. And certainly, a lot of folks swear up and down that they hate the Hobbit movies, and would therefore use them as an example of this too.

(I am not one of those people; as I’ve said before, while I find the Hobbit movies flawed in certain critical respects, I will forgive them a lot of sins just on the grounds that they made the dwarves living, breathing characters and gave them a culture, which the book just does not do. And I say that as a diehard, lifelong Tolkien fan. But, I digress!)

But to automatically dismiss any movie version of a story as inferior to the book(s) is rather unfair to the movies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s vital to keep in mind that what works on the page may not work on the screen. There are different creative choices that have to be made for the movie version of a story than for the book. To go back to Tolkien, but this time with The Lord of the Rings, there are certain choices the movies make that I infinitely prefer over the books. Though for me, the LotR movies stand shoulder to shoulder with the books for how much enjoyment I get out of them.

And to use an example in the screenshot I’m linking off to, there are definitely movie versions of stories that I prefer over the books. Multiple Harry Potter books fall into this category. The movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban is excellent, and Order of the Phoenix is more fun to me in movie form than it is in book form. In no small part, this is due to my relative lack of patience for emo teenaged Harry in the later books–there’s only so much of his emoting in all caps I can deal with!

The best movie versions of stories for me, too, have a big thing I can’t get in the books: music. Howard Shore’s masterful score for the Tolkien movies is of course the shining example here, but let’s not forget John Williams being the guy who gave us the main Harry Potter themes, either.

And to pull in another of my big guns for book version vs. movie version–let’s talk Master and Commander, shall we? Even aside from my documented history as a Russell Crowe fangirl, getting to see and hear Jack and Stephen play their instruments together, and to hear the wonderful soundtrack that goes along with the film, is a huge, huge part of why I get more enjoyment out of re-watching the movie than I often do trying to continue through the series–which I still haven’t finished. I love Jack and Stephen as characters immensely, but Patrick O’Brian’s propensity for telling the reader about a dozen different kinds of sails, not so much. ;D

One more example, from a story that’s generally universally snarked on even though a whole helluva lot of people have in fact read it: The DaVinci Code. I’ve read the book and seen the movie, since the latter was an office morale event, so I got to see it for free. And I’ll say straight up that while neither version of the story could legitimately be called good, the film ultimately was more enjoyable to me.

Three, even aside from the relative merits of a book version of a story vs. the movie version, there’s also the question of whether a given fan is even able to enjoy the book version of a story. Maybe that movie fan is dyslexic or sight-impaired, and the book may not exist in a form they’re able to enjoy (e.g., audiobook, e.g., ebook that can be read aloud to them via the right tech). Maybe they only got to see the movies because they aired on their local TV station, or because they got to see them on a school field trip or as part of a morale event for their workplace (both of which I have been fortunate enough to experience during my time), and they don’t yet have enough pocket money to pick up copies of the books. Maybe they don’t live near a good library or good bookstore. Maybe they don’t even know that there is a book version yet.

The overall point here being, there are any number of reasons why a fan of a thing may so far only be a fan of the movie version, and not of the book version. And IMO, this doesn’t mean the movie fan is doing it wrong.

If I’d been involved in any of the conversations in that screencap, this is what I’d have said:

“Ooh, I love them too! How do you know the story, via the movies or via the books? You haven’t read the books yet? Do you want to? LET ME HELP YOU OUT WITH THIS. Go! Go read! And then come back to me so that we may squee about this awesome story together, won’t you?”

Because yeah, life’s too short IMO to be overly concerned with what version a fan is using to engage with a story. Rather, I’ll try to look for how to share fannish joy about the story with another person, no matter how they’ve come to know it.

Because stories, like everything else in the world, need all the joy they can get.

(And hey Becky, if you’re reading this, thank you for giving me an opportunity to think! And to post!)

ETA: Typo correction. Changed ‘pocket movie’ to ‘pocket money’.

The Internet

The great Dreamwidth Import Review is ongoing

Y’all may have noticed that I have not yet deleted my LJ. This is because I’m still reviewing the content port from LJ over to Dreamwidth, and it’s taking longer than anticipated. Because:

One: Holy hell, I posted a lot back in the day. Well, I post a lot now, too, only now it’s on Facebook instead of on a blog.

Two: I’m actually also taking the time to tag old posts for purposes of better finding them later. Which means I’m re-reading a bunch of them just to see what the hell I was posting about.

Three: Once I hit the point around 2008 or so when I shifted my home base of posting to my WordPress site, I’ll also need to be deleting a bunch of duplicate posts. Because for a while my posting trajectory looked like this:

WordPress->Dreamwidth simultaneous with WordPress->Livejournal

And then it became:

WordPress->Dreamwidth->Livejournal

Which means that if I had post ABC that went from WordPress out to both Livejournal and Dreamwidth, it could possibly have gotten comments on both LJ and Dreamwidth.

When further means that now that I’ve done an LJ->Dreamwidth content port, then I have some cases of the LJ version of a post and the Dreamwidth version of the post, both of which are now on Dreamwidth, having different sets of comments. This is confusing and I’m not sure if there’s an easy way to fix this, since there’s no way I can really copypasta comments off one post and put them on another.

Anyway, I’m in the middle of March 2004 and this will take a while, and will possibly be something I’m working on while I’m at Norwescon this weekend in between trying to sell books.

But now at least I dug up the old tool LJ-Sec, and I’m using that to delete multiple posts at a time, which is making things go at least a little faster. Just because LJ’s UI for deleting posts IS annoying if you have to do it one at a time. (Note: LJ-Sec only runs on Windows, but I can confirm that it will run on Windows 10 as long as you have version 3.5 of the .NET framework installed.)

In the meantime, I’m seeing a few more folks who’ve dropped off of LJ finding me on Dreamwidth, so if you’re reading me on DW now, hiya! \0/

The Internet

Comments are shut off on my LJ crossposts

Folks, as per my announcement earlier this week, I will be shutting down my LJ as soon as I am done with a thorough review of a content export from there to Dreamwidth. This is likely to happen some time this weekend.

Until that time, since my posts originate on my WordPress site and are crossposted to Dreamwidth, and DW crossposts in turn to LJ, I have set my Dreamwidth settings to disable comments on crossposted content. Moving forward, over the next few days, I encourage you to leave any comments either on the DW version of a post, or come straight over to angelahighland.com to leave comments there.

Likewise, Dara is also taking steps to deprecate her journal. She has posts up about this here (on crimeandtheforcesofevil.com) and here (on Dreamwidth).

I’m sad about having to do this, but less sad than I would have been if LJ were still my only blogging platform. But I’ve had a foot out the door on LJ for years, and the new problematic TOS is pretty much the last straw. If you’re an LJ friend, I encourage you to come on over to Dreamwidth. If you’re not sure if you want to commit to an account there, you can still use your LJ ID to leave comments on posts there!

If you do want to commit to an account there, note also that you can claim any previous OpenIDs as you, as per Dreamwidth’s Help post here. The reason this is useful is because if your LJ username shows up as an OpenID commenter on someone else’s imported posts, you can claim that ID as you, and that comment will then show as your Dreamwidth account instead. This is useful!

And again, if you’re already on Dreamwidth and I don’t have you in my circles there yet, let me know who you are!

Editing to add: Also changing my DW settings so that the footer for the DW version of a post should show up on LJ now.

The Internet

Heads up: I am deleting my LJ in the next few days

So my Livejournal paid account status expired, and after a few days of mulling about whether I care, I have decided to go ahead and pull the plug on the account. There are a few reasons for this.

One, I don’t get many comments any more on the LJ account. The vast majority of my online interactions are on Facebook and Twitter now.

Two, while I can certainly afford the yearly paid account fee, there are better things I can be putting that money to.

Three, given that I host my own WordPress site on my own server, and I’m already mirroring my posts from there out to Dreamwidth, having an LJ account as well is kind of redundant.

Four, while I know there’s some nervousness out there re: the new LJ user agreement (see the discussion here, for example), this isn’t making me particularly more nervous about LJ being headquartered in Russia than I was before. But that said, I’m still nervous about LJ being headquartered in Russia, in no small part because hi I’m queer, and Russian law is currently heavily anti-queer, so.

For the small number of you who do periodically still answer my posts on LJ, I apologize in advance for the forthcoming inconvenience, and I hope you’ll consider keeping up with me elsewhere. There are a bunch of options for doing so, all of which are on my Contact page, which I will be bringing up to date shortly.

In particular, if you are also on Dreamwidth and/or will be migrating over there yourself in the near future, I am there as annathepiper. Or, you can grab the RSS feed for angelahighland.com and get my posts directly from the source.

I will be deleting my LJ as soon as I finish verifying that my last import of content from LJ to Dreamwidth went as expected.

Questions, comments, please let me know!

The Internet

FYI: For those of you still using Livejournal

I’m seeing a lot of posts on my reading lists on both Dreamwidth and LJ talking about how apparently, LJ’s conducted a quiet move of remaining US-based servers into Russia.

Note this post by DW user mdlbear, and this one by DW user feuervogel.

I am in the middle of conducting an import of all my LJ entries over to my Dreamwidth account, and I will be deleting a lot of my old LJ content. I am seriously considering whether it’s now time to delete my LJ account.

At minimum I will no longer be posting locked content of any kind to Livejournal, though I will continue to mirror posts there from angelahighland.com, for the time being. If I change my mind, I will be posting again to let folks know.

LJ friends, if you’re not already on DW and you want to add me to your DW reading list, I’m annathepiper in both places, so feel free to add me to your DW filters if you want.

The Internet

Cutting off your nose to spite your face

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I will not critique somebody for their reading format choices. Print has its advantages. Digital has its advantages. And if you happen to be someone who embraces one over the other, more power to you! As long as it brings you joy in whatever you’re reading, I do not care what format you’re reading it in.

That said, I gotta raise an eyebrow at this post on The Digital Reader, which is in turn pointing off to this post on the Powell’s Books blog, in which the author of the essay describes how he tried to solve the problem of what to read while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

His solution was to buy tattered copies of several books he was interested in, chop them up into shorter pieces, mail them to himself at various points along his route, and slowly burn them as campfire fuel to get rid of the weight.

And my answer to this is “wut?”

Because seriously, this scenario strikes me as exactly when I’d want to be carrying a small ereader. There are very tiny ones, like the Kobo Mini. And hell, if you have a smartphone, you’ve got a reading-capable device right there, and most smartphones are going to be lighter than the various ereaders I’ve encountered anyway. For me, the issue here would be whether I could deal with reading on a smartphone for the duration of a hike, vs. reading on e-ink. But if I were in this guy’s shoes and wanting to minimize my carried weight, I’d be seriously considering just reading on my phone. Because I’d have the phone anyway, in case of emergencies. So why not read books on it?

To solve the power problem, you could carry a small battery like the one I’ve always got in my backpack, a Jackery. And to keep that charged, solar-powered hand-cranks are things that exist. (Why do I know this? Because you find out about these things when you live in an area prone to power outages!) Macworld describes several portable battery chargers in this post, including at least one described as specifically useful for camping.

And when you’ve got light, easily portable tech that can solve a problem for you, I can’t see why buying old paperbacks, cutting them up into pieces JUST so you can tape them back together, mailing the resulting hacked books to yourself, and then burning the results as campfire fuel is a superior option. Particularly when it involves destroying books. The essay writer even admits that that gave him some qualms, which he overcame in the interests of cutting down the weight in his backpack. And he handwaved off his qualms as well by pointing out that millions of books get thrown away or destroyed every year.

Which, to me, seems like a really odd justification for someone who prefers reading print over digital. I mean, if you prefer reading print, awesome!

But to deliberately put yourself into a position where, in order to read in your preferred format, you are destroying books in that format, on purpose?

All I can say is, again, “wut?”

Pete Has a Point

Pete Has a Point

The Internet

Heads up: Paypal is launching an infuriating new user agreement

Do you use Paypal? If you do, you should go over to the Crime and the Forces of Evil blog RIGHT NOW and read up on Dara’s report on what they just tried to pull on her: making her choose between providing a phone number that they are then ready, willing, and able to robospam, or letting them datamine her by validating data on her that SHE NEVER GAVE THEM.

Of particular importance here is the link brought up by one of her commenters, in which the Washington Post reports that the new Paypal TOS, which kicks in on July 1st, gives them the right to robocall you on your cell phone. It also gives their affiliates and partners the right to robocall you. On your dime, of course, but screw that. Also screw giving you, the Paypal user, any ability to opt out of this.

There’s a word for this, and that word is bullshit.

Other links I’ve found that are pertinent to this:

Relatedly, I also note that both BGR and Gizmodo are reporting that Paypal has just been dinged for $25 million in fines for deceptive business practices. And this is hardly the first time I’ve heard about Paypal doing something shady, either; in 2012, they tried to make Smashwords remove certain types of fiction they considered objectionable, and threatened them with shutting down the Smashwords Paypal account if they didn’t comply. And if you go look at Paypal’s Wikipedia page, the Criticism section calls out a whole thorny tangle of other issues it’s been involved in.

All in all there’s plenty of basis to say that yes, Paypal is sketchy at best, if not outright reprehensible. This robocall feature in their new user agreement is just the latest in a chain.

And it is, frankly, infuriating. Enough so that both Dara and I are now seriously evaluating whether we can minimize if not outright remove our Paypal dependence. Frustratingly, Dara can’t–Paypal is the mechanism through which Bandcamp pays her for any sales there, and she doesn’t have an option to set up anything else there. And she can’t bail on Bandcamp.

Me, my main Paypal dependency is that it’s the primary means through which Smashwords pays its authors–ironic, given the aforementioned 2012 controversy. I could switch Smashwords over to paper check as my payment method, but if I did that, I wouldn’t see any payment out of them until I broke $75 balance. And right now, honestly, my sales there don’t warrant that.

So right now I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I’m going to have to bail on Smashwords, maybe in favor of Draft2Digital, which I’ve heard about via some of the other authors I know. D2D, at least, will let me hit several of the same vendor channels as Smashwords–and let me be paid directly to my savings account.

There’s one possible light at the end of this tunnel, at least. The Washington Post also reports that the FCC is looking at new legislation which might well cut Paypal and other companies off at the knees before they have a chance to pull any further egregious robocalling bullshit. I’d like to hope that this legislation is a thing that will happen.

But I ain’t going to count those chickens till they’ve hatched. And meanwhile, I have some serious evaluating to do. If you’re a Paypal customer, you should start doing that evaluating too. We have until July 1st to decide.

ETA: I have been directed to this report of PC World’s which suggests that Paypal may not actually go through with this. However, so far I do not find this to alleviate my concerns in the slightest. What I’m seeing here is Paypal going “OH SHIT THE INTERNET IS GOING TO FALL ON OUR HEADS”.

What I need to see out of them at this point is a clear public statement that says “no, we’re not going to do this,” including revisions to the forthcoming user agreement that call out how users may opt out of this robocalling and autotexting bullshit. Until that happens, I fully endorse the Internet falling on their heads over this.

Also, this doesn’t address Dara’s experience with them trying to process a transaction tonight. Let me be clear about this: they tried to get her to confirm data she had not given them, specifically, an old address of ours in Kentucky. Which Paypal had NO BUSINESS KNOWING.