Tired, and a bit cranky, so keeping this short. You’ve probably heard of people having no-holds-barred beat-downs over what is and isn’t “cultural appropriation”, up to and including vicious arguments that blondes shouldn’t wear hoop earrings. Well, here’s an interesting, sobering, and possibly more useful phrase for you: “cultural vandalism”. AKA what Hollywood and its adjuncts have done to Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, He-Man, She-Ra, and now, via Amazon, the Lord of the Rings.
Yes, I can hear you wince from here. It’s a justified wince, and it’s worse than you think.
It’s not a case of “visual adaptations always differ from the book”. The Meg and the original Jurassic Park movies differed greatly from their book forms, but for the most part the movies changed things to either make them easier to film or to condense extra characters into single roles to make for a clearer storyline. I have to admit I favor the movie version of Lex, for example, who got to use computer skills to save lives, rather than the book version whose main contribution was screaming.
What Hollywood’s done to beloved franchises a la Marvel is more basic, and far more cruel. Essentially, it’s “break the toys so no other kids can use them”. They weren’t satisfied with trying to bring the original stories from the books, comics, or older movies to the big screen. They wanted to rewrite original canon to tell their story instead. And only their story, as if no other possible version could exist.
I grant you fanfic writers rewrite canon all the time, but we at least tag things “AU”. And we don’t stop anyone else from going back to original canon to write their fics. But most important of all, fanfic writers love their fandom.
Yet we have article after article of Hollywood director interviews (particularly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe bunch), quoting how they hated this character and that character and that setting, and that’s why they killed X off/ had the character make this stupid decision / decided to blow stuff up. The original sources aren’t important. The fans of the originals aren’t important. Everything is about “the message”.
Think about that. Beloved cultural treasures are being handed over to filmmakers who bend, fold, spindle and mutilate them for a message. Not a story. Their vision of how a culture should be; vulgar, petty, and incredibly short-sighted.
There’s no sympathy for or empathy with the general audience. Only arrogance and condescension. If the creators in Hollywood really wanted to have a fantasy universe with elves and dwarves with exactly the same ethnicities as humans, or a fantastic setting where everyone and their uncle/aunt was of 57 different genders, they could make their own original story. And then let it stand or fall on its own merits.
But to quote Frodo, “The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.”
The Rings of Power – War For A Fandom
(Warning, NSFW language.)
I especially have to laugh at the bit that starts at 1:34: fandom having an “intelligent, measured and thoughtful discussion”. Spot on, that….