Today on Facebook I saw a (preview? Ad?) for the movie, The Martian coming out this weekend. It said something to the effect of “Watch the world join together to bring him home” complete with hashtags and a picture of Matt Damon in a space suit and all. Instead of feeling excited about the movie, I found myself feeling mildly annoyed.

The problem is this: I loved this book. Some six months ago my friend slid this book across the table to me and told me to read the first chapter. I did. It was okay. But within a couple of months my two other friends who tend to share my tastes in books had read and loved the book as well. Plus, it had a cool story behind the way it made it to the NY Times Bestseller list. So, I decided to go ahead and read the whole thing. And I’ve decided Andy Weir is a genius (how can he be anything but when he has such a healthy appreciation for duct tape?).

This book is filled with hilarious monologues (poor Watney is stuck on Mars by himself, after all), moments that pack huge emotional punches (good and bad) and so many “are you serious?!” events you can’t help but feel you’re pulling for a real person. I have laughed out loud at this book and almost teared up so many times, it has quickly made it onto my short list (Okay…let’s be honest…it’s a really long list) of favorite books.

So, the problem is, now it’s coming out as a movie. And, I mean, that is awesome for Andy Weir. I’m sure all of us unpublished novelists dream of our books (that, you know, haven’t been published) will one day grace the big screens. I even entertain myself with determining who should play my characters sometimes. But, that’s just icing (a metaphor I shouldn’t use seeing as I don’t like icing). The book is the true treasure.

Here’s where my annoyance comes in. People will be excited to see the movie. They’ll claim they are fans. They’ll talk and discuss and rave. And many of them will never read the book. Is this a petty thing to get annoyed about? Probably. In the grand scheme of things. But still. It’s like reading CliffsNotes and claiming to be a fan of a book. Actually, it’s worse. Because at least in CliffsNotes things are just condensed. In movies, they change things. Then people THINK they know the story, but it’s not the original story. Not the REAL story.

I think it stems back to when The Lord of the Rings movies came out. Don’t get me wrong. That’s one series I liked. I think they did a remarkable job translating those books into movies (books I grew up with, by the way). On the way into the movie theater (I think it was for The Two Towers), I overheard people talking, and the one didn’t even know those movies WERE books. No, neither of them had ever read them. Even today, people tell me they love LOTR and when I ask, the majority of them have never read the books. I’ve even had the same thing happen with Harry Potter on occasion.

I know. I know. Not everyone has the same “read the book before you watch the movie” requirement I have. But, I have that rule. And I have it so I can get the REAL story first. I feel the authors, the creators of the story, deserve that. They’re the ones who made the stories and the characters, who brought them to life. Okay. I’ll stop yelling from my soapbox. For now. But, I probably won’t get down.

~ S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on September 30, 2015.

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