Friday, September 11, 2009

Not so much an "adaptation" as a clusterfuck of unending horror.

First of all, I want to apologize for my atrocious grammar and the myriad typos I make on this blog. But it came to my attention recently that someone on the internet was mocking me for my typos and grammar, and the conclusion they came to was that my books obviously could not be any good, because I make grammar mistakes on the internet. So, nameless idiot, I feel like I need to school you about one of the little known facts of the writing world: the editor. I am sure you assume, based on your comments, that other authors must tirelessly revised every online posting, Christmas card, and grocery list they make out, because the grammar in their novels is so flawless, with nary a misspelled word, and from this you can infer that an author who does make the occasional mistake must also sort of pound their forehead against the keys while swearing and hope that what comes out is a book, and then that manuscript is transformed into a book without anyone double checking to make sure that it is readable. I can understand why someone with your limited critical thinking skills might make this leap, however, I can assure you that it is not true. Instead, writers simply write their novels, likely making many mistakes in the process, and then a specially trained (read: masochist with a BA in English) person called an editor reads it, makes notes on the sections that appear to have been written while the author was high, and then cheerfully sends it back to the author to make corrections. When that is done, the editor reads it again, and then another specially trained person (read: bleary-eyed golem chained in a publishing house basement) goes over the manuscript with the sole purpose of finding grammatical and typographical errors.

As you can imagine, this process requires the publishing company to pay their specially trained employees for their time, but that expense is recouped by sales of the books. The same cannot be said for blog posts and comments, so the author is left to fend for herself like every other mortal on the planet.

In other words, shut up.

Now, onto the real meat and two veg of this post. Every single interview I do, I get asked the same question: When did you first become interested in vampires? I always give the honest answer, that I don't know how I became interested in vampires, and that I cannot remember a time that I was not aware of the idea of them. It's not like the first time I hear about stuff, I make mental notes to remember the date or what I was wearing just in case I write a book about it later and someone wants to know, okay? But I can remember exactly what the first vampire book was that made me want to be a vampire, or have a vampire boyfriend, and that book was The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith. Of course, I read the follow ups, all three of them, which, owing to the fact that the publishers wrote "A trilogy" on the front cover, made me believe that a trilogy was four books instead of three until I was in college. When Twilight came out, I flipped my shit because it seemed like I was the only person in the world who noticed that Twilight had a lot of uncomfortable similarities to The Vampire Diaries.

That's a blog post for another time, and that time will probably be Monday.

Anyway, I freaking lived that book in 1992, and now, some seventeen years later, holy shit, it's a TV show. Look, I expected there would be changes. I mean, look at how many liberties HBO is taking with True Blood, and that's still awesome, so why wouldn't The Vampire Diaries be? I sat down and watched the first episode last night.

Have you ever watched a film or television adaptation of a book and gone, "Hmm, that's just not how I imagined they would look?" I'm sure you have. I totally had that very, "Wait, who the hell is this?" moment when I watched the television movie of The Stand and Harold Lauder was skinny and nerdy instead of fat and just sort of socially awkward. But holy cow, is The Vampire Diaries a buffet of "What the fuck, didn't they even read this?"

Elena Gilbert, cool and blond and slender, the fashion trendsetter, the high school senior, the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be.
Gives you a good idea of what Elena looks like, right?
And the dress was all right; the iced-violet color brought out the violet in her eyes. But even to herself she looked pale and steely, not softly flushed with excitement, but white and determined.
So, Elena looks like this:

Oh, wait, I'm sorry. That's actually the actress who portrays Caroline, described in the book like this:
Caroline's green eyes barely flickered toward Elena, and she pushed glossy auburn hair out of her face.
This is Elena, in the series:


Okay, so they got the two flipped around. That's not that big a deal, compared to what they did to Bonnie:
Bonnie hadn't grown at all, and her curly red head barely came up to Elena's chin as she flung her arms around Elena.
and Meredith:
Meredith never wore any make-up, but then, with perfect olive skin and heavy black lashes, she didn't need any.

Poor Bonnie and Meredith were clearly fused together in some terrible accident. In the ensuing struggle for dominance over the body they now must share, Bonnie's personality has overcome Meredith, and the resultant MereBonnie is known on the series as simply "Bonnie." Meredith is never mentioned in the first episode.

The worst casting was that of Elena's four-year-old sister, Margaret:

Wait, what?

Maybe I'm being too hard on the casting. After all, there were so many other things I hated about the show. Like the fact that Stefan and Damon Salvatore are now Americans, born before the Civil War, and not transplants from the Italian Renaissance. Or the bizarre side story involving Elena's brother, Jeremy (who replaced Margaret, as seen above) and his drug-dealing, and the seemingly unnecessary change to make Vicki and Matt brother and sister.

There were some things I liked about it. The cemetery where Elena's parents are buried is exactly the way I imagined in the book, and Damon looks and acts like he just stepped off the page. There was a pretty cool Kate Bush cover on the soundtrack, as well, even if there were just a few too many musical moments in the whole thing. But I don't know if I'll be able to get past the many places where they changed or ignored things from the books. I love them with all of my heart, and to this day I still keep copies of them on my nightstand and will flip to my favorite parts. The Vampire Diaries was practically my Bible growing up... and The Passion of Elena Gilbert is not turning out to be the spiritual experience I thought it would be.

I mean, they even changed the name of the town from "Fell's Church" to "Mystic Falls." Mystic Falls? You gotta believe you're gonna have a vampire problem in a town named Mystic Falls.

1 comment:

  1. Going through every single post on your blog because I think you are fantastic. So four years later, I totally agree with you on this. I couldn't get past watching the first few episodes of this t.v. series. I loved the books back in the 90s, but I hate, hate, hate when things get so changed when it goes to screen. I watched the film "Queen of the Damned" and was so pissed at all the things they changed, that I will NEVER watch the movie again. OK that is all :)

    Heidi

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