Do you think popular media today have an affect on the way literature history of future generations will look back on novels?
For instance, Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and many other authors are remembered for their works because of quality and relevance.
Today, many novels have become famous largely due to TV and film adaptations. Do you believe the popular stories of today will be remembered in their initial form or because of their saturation through other forms of media?
I was fortunate enough to ask these questions to Red Fez editor and Literary Underground mastermind Lynn Alexander and New York Times Bestselling author of such books as Crank Ellen Hopkins. Here's what they had to say:
Saturation - Lynn Alexander
Red Fez Editor Lynn Alexander
Unfortunately I think many novels are commercially successful because of the franchise model, and the ability to translate the story elements into marketable merchandise in addition to films. A good example is Twilight because it wasn't just the movies but also the way that stores like Hot Topic were able to blitz the niche market of young readers with merchandise. Walk in at the height and you would have seen DVD parties, t shirts, pencil cases, earrings . . . We saw the same for Harry Potter and now with Hunger Games.
I think that these kinds of novels will be remembered for the trend, less for the novels themselves. I find that many people have not actually READ the novels but it doesn't seem to matter.
Now on the other hand, I think there are novels that will be remembered because of their ideas - helped along by film of course but also helped by the appeal of the concept regardless of form. Think Fight Club. Great novel, great movie. Doesn't matter.
Your question says "popular stories" and if you focus there, then no. I think they will be remembered for their film adaptations and because of the saturation. What is there to really remember about many popular stories? Many are written as though they are intended to be made into movies. Many are terrible, reflect a reading level that is just sad, and probably don't deserve to be remembered.
For those that began as great books that just happened to be adapted, not necessarily as popular but successful, I think some will remember them and hopefully appreciate them in the future. I think of examples like Angela's Ashes but it also depends on the window of time when you say "popular stories of today". Today, literally? Or just modern? Adaptations of Jane Austen or Edith Wharton or F. Scott Fitzgerald or E.M. Forster will likely not change the appreciation for the novels, which are still being read despite their film counterparts. And some novels just seem stuck as novels, in a good way. Toni Morrison, for example.
Painting the Picture - Ellen Hopkins
NY Times Bestselling Author Ellen Hopkins
I think it's unfortunate that future generations will be pushed into digital mediums because of what is happening right now, today. Reading a book, on page, not onscreen, works a part of the brain that may, in fact, become extinct within a few generations. Why do I think this is sad? Because that is the CREATIVE part of the brain.
Once future generations allow other forms of media to PAINT the story, rather than letting their brains do the coloring in, they will become dumber and dumber. The same entities encouraging this today are helping to defund education. They don't want the workforce to be creative or smart--too much competition.
My heartfelt advice is to fight back! Work the creative part of your brain. Read (print). Write! Educate yourselves every way possible that does not involve some media hack telling you what is "true." Investigate. Learn what is true. Know what? It isn't easy. But if you don't, this planet has a sorry future indeed.
My Final Thoughts
The reason I was compelled to ask others what they thought was because I wasn't sure of the answer myself. I believe in the various outlets for stories, and at heart I root for the story more than I do the form.
However, there's something to be said about written works. As Ellen Hopkins pointed out, it's far more beneficial to process a story than to have it completely spelled out for you. Film and TV tell you what to see, think, hear, and so on. There's very little room for interpretation beyond the weak subtext.
Horror stories, as an example, are much scarier in the written form than up on a screen. In this instance, they use your own fears and imagination to haunt you, whereas film and TV tries to make you afraid of someone else's nightmares. Horror novels bring out your fears and play them against, while other forms tend to focus on the pop-out scare.
An oversight on my part was merchandising. In Lynn Alexander's example of Twilight, it's easy to focus on the books and the novels, but what is sometimes left out of the equation is product. After she mentioned it, I remember seeing the lunchboxes, candy, trading cards, clothes, and many other promotions. Was the book so revolutionary it reached to such heights, or was it all a clever franchise model?
Edgar Allan Poe comes to mind now. Poe made a name for himself as a writer way before anyone adapted his stories into film or used his ideas for plots and video games. When Poe items first came to stores, I thought it was kind of cool. I liked Poe and now I could flaunt such a fact, but after awhile it became too much. It was almost as though to like Poe is akin to loving cliches. Lucky for Poe, he's already cemented in history.
Will the works of our time have the same opportunity to go down in history on merit, or will they become too much of a marketing scheme and fade away?
Since I'm left with multiple theories and no prophetic powers, I leave the question with you. How do you think the constant media saturation of novels will affect they way they will be remembered in the future?
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