I called myself "a bit of a book snob" on facebook yesterday. And then someone else said she's a MAJOR book snob, and then proceeded to say something that no true book snob would ever say...
"I actually agree - and I'm a MAJOR book snob. If you watch the movie first, you're not disappointed because it doesn't live up to the book."
Wait. What? She was agreeing with some advice a friend of mine was given, which was that you should always watch the movie before you read a book because otherwise, the movie could be ruined. But if you watch the movie first, usually the book will be better, so you're all good right?
Sure. If you don't love books. Do what you like. But if you love books the way book snobs love books, you would never EVER do this.
For a number of reasons. I'm going to list them here. Mostly, because I barely restrained myself from being a know-it-all jackass on facebook. I have no reason to do that here. It's my place to come and be a know-it-all jackass. My happy jackass place.
So let's do this. Let's talk about why that is the worst, most appalling thing, a "book snob" would ever agree with.
- First, let's get this out of the way. Who gives a froink if a movie gets ruined? It's a movie. Compared to A BOOK. Enough said.
- A movie is almost never as good as a book. It can never take you into a character's mind the way a book can. It can never let you step into a world and be someone else. Why not? Because the character is right there on the screen in front of you, and unless you're Elijah Wood, it's not you. You aren't Frodo standing on the edge of Mordor, with faithful Samwise at your side and the ring of power heavy around your neck. And there's no coming back from that. Once you've seen Elijah, he's Frodo.
- When you watch a movie before you read the book the casting director is now more important than your own imagination. Even if the cast the character perfectly, that is not okay. Never mind if they do it imperfectly. I would never ever have fallen in love with Edward and Jacob if I'd thought of them the way they were in the movies. (And I would have HATED Bella.) The actors become the characters in your mind, and you can't change it. Not unless you've met the characters for the first time in your imagination. Then they will always be who they were supposed to be when they were written. They're safe from Hollywood.
- A book is so much more than a movie. It's sacred. Magic. If you love books, you know what I am saying. It makes a story come alive the way a movie never can. Movies never fully capture a story the way a book does. The movie is always a bit of a jip in some way. And that's okay, if you read the book first you can watch the movie and fill in the blanks for the movie-makers. You can make the movie better because you know the story. You know all the reasons Catniss is compelled to align with Rue. Oh sure, the people who just watched the movie get some of it. It's obvious. Rue is so young, and so sweet, how could anyone not want to protect her? But that's not all of it. So when Catniss sings her to death, and covers her body with flowers, book readers know what's in her heart the way people who haven't read the books just really can't. How could anyone think it's better to watch the movie without knowing those things?
- And then, finally, how could anyone think reading the book after the movie could possibly be as good once you've basically been given an outline? How could you possibly enjoy reading the moment Mr. Darcy confesses his love to Lizzy in the same fullness of incredulity and joy? It would be crazy to go on wikipedia before you read a book and read the plot summary before you turn the first page. But that's what you're doing when you watch the movie first. Only worse in my mind. At least with wikipedia your imagination would still have a chance to do it's thing. So instead of an amazing experience with a book, and a pretty great movie experience watching Mr. Darcie and Elizabeth find each other, you're left with a pretty great movie experience (but not as good as it could have been if you'd read the book first) and a CRAP book reading experience. You've ruined the book. I have no words for what the thought of ruining the first time I read Pride and Prejudice does to me.
- It's just wrong. So very very wrong.
I'm saying it here though. She doesn't know what she's talking about, and I bet her favourite books are Confessions of a Shopaholic. Yeah, I went there.
(I love Confessions of a Shopaholic.) (That's one of the reasons I'm only a bit of a book snob.)