(spoiler alert: don't let the fact that this guy is featured on all the ads fool you.)
Last week, the TV series Game of Thrones, killed off several of it’s regular characters in an extremely bloody wedding reception. This surprised people who didn’t follow the book series it was based on, A Song of Ice and Fire. (Or who quickly forgot the first season, which killed off the guy who was on every single poster promoting the show, thus proving that there may be some death in this epic about wars, dragons, and dwarves with killer wit.) However, what followed was the great reader vs. watcher war of 2013, whereupon readers were happy because they knew it was going to happen, some of the people watching the show were going to swear it off forever because of the shocking deaths (they kill a puppy in the third episode. I'm not so sure "brutal" describes it), and some people tried to lord their knowledge of the books over those that just watched the show.
Meanwhile, I remembered back to a simpler time when watching TV Shows like this or reading books like this got you wedgied. Being a nerd used to be hard.
What bothered me was the debate afterward. (You’d think it would be the people dying at a wedding reception. Hmm.) Yes, people are mad when their favorite character is killed off… I may worship Joss Whedon but I’ll never really forgive him for what he did with Tara in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer… but there was almost a condescending air from some of the long-time readers that were waiting for this moment to come.
Caveat: not EVERYONE. Some of my favorite people are Song of Ice and Fire fans first, Game of Thrones fans second. You are all awesome people, and if I could give you all a hug right now I certainly would. I even plan on reading the books, so this isn’t directed at you awesome people who have helped me get into it. It’s about the really strange reaction long time readers had to those people who were discovering the “Red Wedding” for the first time. It was just hard to watch, to be honest with you. Not the many people dying, the book fans attacking the television only fans.
Look, it’s a big scene. And it’s surprising. But i wouldn’t have seen it coming. Actually I was kind of glad I didn’t, TV-Wise. And I sort of treat the two like they’re separate entities. The book will always be better than a movie (or epic TV show.)
A lot of this debate made me think back to The Hunger Games. I had read the books, and I was looking forward to the movie. And as a movie, it’s pretty good. A decent adaptation, the actors all played their parts well… but it lacked some of the emotional punch. The Hunger Games is very much Katniss’ story. By putting it up on the screen, and taking us out of her head (not sure a voice over would do us any good) an element of the book was forever removed. That, too, caused controversy because of the casting of Rue, then by those that weren’t prepared for her death.
Maybe all I’m discovering here is just that people like to complain….
“The Red Wedding” is a huge game changer in the book and in the TV Show. And it’s a big shock, whether you’re watching the show, or whether you’re reading the books. One isn’t better than the other. No, you shouldn’t swear off the show because it kills off several of it’s characters (Damn you, Joss Whedon) nor were you put into some secret club because you read the book. If anything, the book club should be LESS secret, and you should be getting people to read the books you love more and more. Reading is something that needs to be shared, something that needs to be cultivated and loved. Not something that should be lorded over people who didn’t read the book, and then decided they didn’t like an outcome.
Of course, I could go on. This is a fascinating area, book vs. film/tv, particularly as some of these adaptations become more popular, and as the readers have to see more of what they love about the books being adapted to a wider audience. it's an interesting balance. But it's important to remember that you don't need to read a book to enjoy a movie, and vice versa. Also, reading one doesn't suddenly make you a better person. This goes way back to the idea of defining literature by whether or not it's in a an old book, or if it's on a TV Show. One isn't instantly better than the other because it came first.