The World According To Fred is my blog, although no, my name is not Fred - but don't worry, that's a common misconception... My posts are a compilation of all the things that pass through my mind - a running commentary of my view of the world. Please feel free to comment and please say if there are any subjects you would like Fred to take a view on - I really do want to know!!!! In the meanwhile enjoy:
The World According To Fred

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Casual Disappointment

Since the publication of the final Harry Potter book in 2007, I have eagerly awaited the release of a new book from the beloved JK, whatever it may be. And then, earlier this year, came the announcement that she had picked up the quill again: The Casual Vacancy, 27th September 2012. Oh the excitement! The overwhelming joy that accompanied the knowledge that I could once again delve into the world of her writing – I didn’t care that it wasn’t Harry, wasn’t Hogwarts, wasn’t magic. She was back and it was a whole new universe to be swept away in.

Yeah. What an astronomical letdown.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it was a disappointment because it wasn’t Potter – a lot of people think that that’s the reason I feel like this, and it’s a fair enough assumption (except of course, that it’s entirely wrong). No, the truth is that The Casual Vacancy is a racist, demeaning and judgemental piece of crap – and that’s just the half of it. For those that don’t know (and a warning – spoiler alerts coming!) the book follows the town of Pagford and the events that occur after the death of a prominent figure of the town council, Barry Fairbrother (Barry? Inventive there JK…) and the attempts to fill his seat.

Now as a bookseller at Waterstones, I was well aware of the promotional restrictions put around the book; it was in no way to be affiliated with the Harry Potter series, and was to be advertised with extreme emphasis on the fact it was an adult novel. However, what we weren’t warned about was the fact that JK Rowling seems to have a limited knowledge as to what makes an adult novel – and that her version consists of “adult writing” consists of sporadic, frequent and often unnecessary bad language and scenes that, whilst admittedly were – in accordance with most of the rest of the book – badly written, verged on pornographic. OK, so let’s not think I’m a snobbish prude – yes people use bad language and it is generally quite often. But is it really quite necessary for “c**t” to be used within the first ten pages and repeatedly therein? No, is the simple answer. And as for the sex scenes – ok, so it was no Fifty Shades of Grey, but they were thrown in amongst relatively normal passages in a way that was clearly a desperate attempt to up the ante and make it adult material. They were simply uncomfortable to read. Not that I’m suggesting I like to snuggle up with a cup of tea and my latest copy of Fifty Shades for a nice bit of contented and light reading. No. I’m simply saying that JK’s risqué material was less sleazy and more queasy.

And then there’s the writing itself – oh it was painful. Long and archaic terms that, realistically, nobody but an English teacher uses (and even they don’t understand them) and only served to make the piece clumsy and awkward. The story made critical and damning accusations of those on the welfare system and racial slurs with barely acceptable reason behind it reasoning – “bullying”. JK failed to form any likeable character to get behind (by the end I wanted to climb in and slap everyone of them) and I am ashamed to say that it took me about four weeks to finish it; had it not been for my extreme aversion to starting and not finishing a book, I would’ve been perfectly happy to put it down and walk away unconcerned not knowing what happened. As it is, I don’t think I have ever reached the end of a book with as much relief that it was over.

So Ms Rowling – what’s going on? I think it must be one of two options. Firstly, she has realised that Potter can go no further – now that’s hard for me, as a hardcore Potterhead, to even find the words to admit it, but after the painful demise of the over-hyped Pottermore (having spent two hours getting to the sorting and being put in Hufflepuff, I refuse to go back on, and having gathered from my more fortunate friends that really I’m not missing out, it seems that those that remain on the site are dwindling in numbers…) it can be said that Potter can go no more. In coming to terms to this, JK has decided she must break away as far as possible from this world and create a new name for herself: thus the foul language, foul content and foul writing.

The other option is, indeed, far more disturbing: that this is actually what Rowling writes and thinks like, and the entire Harry Potter franchise was a façade behind which she could simply get published. If this is the case, then I have lost a valued idol, who always seemed to promote the good and right in a troubled and often desperate society, and the little girl who can owe her childhood and love for literature to one woman can now only turn her head in shame.

I now return to the Harry Potter series with a desperate hope that this experiment will not impact future generations on their willingness to pick up this magical world, that for me, should’ve been the only one JK Rowling created. Let this be a plea to her to stay far from this new path, and remain with what she knows and is good at.

Twilight: A Bark Bigger Than Its Bite?

I recently went to see Eclipse, the latest film in the Twilight Saga. Having absolutely adored the book and then wound myself into a frenzy over the trailer, I anticipated a great success. Admittedly, the previous two hadn’t been great once I looked closer at them, but Eclipse was supposed to the best yet: it’s the most action packed; two extremely good looking characters (in the book) battling over the girl they both love and Bella’s heart-wrenching decision at the end. What could go wrong? Needless to say, it was crap.

Now, I am well aware that the entire female population of Britain, America and in fact the rest of the world will probably want to hunt me down, tear me apart and burn the pieces  after hearing what I have to say. But to me, Robert Pattinson and his troupe of talentless wannabes are as low down in my book as Justin Bieber, Jedward and that demented woman who put the cat in the bin. C’mon Hollywood. Is it really that hard to cast people that can actually act? Robert Pattinson is supposedly a God, and yet I find myself repulsed by the simple thought of his face, my lip curling at the sound of his hybrid accent in my head. It’s not difficult to cast an American in an American role, and even if they couldn’t achieve that, at least an Englishman who can put on a decent American accent. Where were Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder (aka Stefan Salvatore and Damon Salvatore from the ITV2 series Vampire Diaries) when Twilight was being cast?  Added to this catastrophe, they enrol Kristen Stewart as Bella: a flimsy excuse for an actor, who wouldn’t ever have one boy fighting for her, let alone two. Finally, you have Taylor Lautner - possibly the only peak in this vacuous boredom - with his enticing six-pack which, unfortunately, acts better than he does. The gorgeous Indian-American seems to have an interesting disability, limiting him to only one facial expression throughout the film.
So come on Hollywood. What’s going on? You’ve managed to turn a series of incredible books into a mess of bad acting and people constantly checking the time to see how much longer they have to sit and watch this contraption for. As it is, I now utterly detest the books: my vision of Edward Cullen is destroyed; Bella is no longer my strong feminist heroine and the word ‘vampire’ simply sets my teeth on edge rather than having the pulse racing, wide-eyed, dizzy effect it once did.

And yet somehow, I am alone in a craze of hormone ruled, overly obsessive, stalker mad fans. My traditionalist ideas are being trampled beneath the heavy feet of pathetic, moronic and narcissistic teenage girls, whilst we are watched by laughing producers who have just got the phone call to confirm that yes; they are now the equivalent to Bill Gates in the merchandise industry. Meanwhile, up and down the country, girls – in fact fully grown women who should know better enough to act their age – are flowing into shops to seize fistfuls of Volturi Make-up, Edward Cullen wristbands and T-Shirts emblazoned with TEAM EDWARD or TEAM JACOB and shoving them into the faces of shocked shop assistants. Well Ms. Meyer, I hope you are happy. Thousands may love the films for the moment – and trust me, that will fade by the time another equally trashy film makes the silver screen – but millions more hate the books for what they have become. A love and respect that could’ve lasted for centuries has been destroyed in an attempt to make a quick buck.
Surprisingly, the movie industry has not always been this corrupt. Only recently have film makers become more intent on making money that creating a most welcome adventure. Indeed, there used to be a time where one could read a book, then see an adaptation of it in the cinema and would immediately be transported back to that world. The book would not be disgraced, defiled ad destroyed by the film, but rather given a new lease of life by it. Lord of the Rings was phenomenal; it was exactly like the book and proved that magical imagination could be transcribed onto to screen with ease. The first few Harry Potter films were the same. But then they too turned their backs on the books in order to create elaborate and completely pointless story lines; JK Rowling is lucky that the fan base dedicated to her books is loyal enough to stick by them. Admittedly, Ms. Rowling was too in the early years, and yet the books have finally been deserted in favour of a large, flowing income. As much as I love the Harry Potter series, they missed out far too much of the important information in the most recent two in order to make them good.

Not all authors have betrayed their creations to the tune of twelve silver coins though. Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries’ have been made into two highly inaccurate,  erroneous and obvious movies. However, Ms. Cabot cheerfully takes them to pieces through her character Mia Thermopolis, making for a welcome change.
I cannot amend what has already been made, no matter how much I may detest the inventions, yet I can at least hope to alter what may come. Hollywood needs to find a way to make better adaptations or else stop altogether before a fully fledged riot breaks out.