Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Why is it that the Oscars

hold so much fascination for so many people? Why does all the glitz and glamour hold so much appeal? Would we really want to be part of it if we could? Would we, if female, really want to wear one of those supremely uncomfortable looking "gowns"? Would we want to risk being humiliated if we were a "favourite" and then not chosen - for all the world to see?
I could go on and on but even that is not what bothers me most about all this. What bothers me is something quite different.
There are millions of dollars, pounds, euros, yen etcetera poured into the film industry every year. Film budgets, even for a "low budget" film can be huge.
Oh yes, I know there are large numbers of people involved and they all have to be paid. Some of them get paid more than others. 
But films are about telling a story - and someone has to write that story. Even before the "screenplay" can be written someone has to write the story. Sometimes "the book of the film" will be published but the reality is that it is still "the film of the story".
There is an Oscar for "the best screenplay". There is no Oscar for the author of the story.
A film is fleeting entertainment. Oh yes, everything is there on the screen. It is a "complete" visual and aural experience. Someone else has done all the thinking and produced their version of what the story is about. And yes, it requires skill and imagination and a great many other things. It is also over in a couple of hours.
But a book is different. Every reader is going to get something slightly different from a book. A book depends not just on what the author has to say, not just on the words the author uses and the way they are used. It depends on the reader's experience of the world as well.  It requires work on the part of both writer and reader. We  know all that but we don't know it.
When we come to a film the writer is barely acknowledged. It is much more likely that people can name the actors in a film than the author of the story from which it has been made. Some people would not even be aware that a film they enjoyed had been adapted from a book. They don't think, "Where did the story come from?" The story is, for them, just there.
If we made even a tenth as much of a fuss about the writer of the story as we do about the actors then all writers would be far better off. We need more than "the Booker" or some other prize chosen by a panel of judges because it has arcane qualities the rest of us struggle to appreciate. We need something which says, "This is work, hard work. It has taken months or years to complete. It is worth paying for."
Why is it that people object to paying for a book when they will readily pay to see a film? If we buy a print book it is there for as long as we want it. If we see a film then, apart from the mis-memory it is over in just a short while?
Is it because reading a book requires work on the part of the reader? Are we really that lazy?


Anonymous said...

Give me a book any day!

Any writing is hard work, and sometimes it seems the only ones who get paid well or the ones who write about the stories after somebody has done the real writing.

Anonymous said...

... who get paid ARE the ones ...

jeanfromcornwall said...

Films are fine for the ones who never really got to grips with reading, but they use up so much time and give so much less than the book, assuming it was a decent well written one in the first place.
But I think many members of the human race are pretty lazy when they can be - hence the rise of dinner-in-a-box meals - beats cooking!