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Nitpicking will bring us together

July 18, 2009

Yesterday I wrote about feeling bad for ripping on movie adaptations. But I realized something while listening to my coworkers talk about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: For a lot of people, the nitpicking is one of the best parts.

Obviously, we say things like, “It doesn’t hold a candle to the book,” because, in our minds, it doesn’t. But why do we feel the need to say it out loud? Isn’t it enough to think it? You know what I’m going to say — it’s about social order and signaling. By discussing a movie in relation to the source material, we’re saying that:

  1. You read.
  2. You read things that other people thought were good enough to make into movies.
  3. You care enough about the book to care if it’s adapted well.

And by signaling these things, you’re able to find other people who do, too. And you know you’re not alone in thinking that Keira Knightley was the wrong person to play Elizabeth Bennett or that Gambit deserved more screen time. You can form a network around that idea, and you feel a sense of belonging discussing it.

This might seem obvious. And it might be. But it’s funny how of two people discussing the same thing, one person is apologetic and one is proud – sometimes for the same reason.

So maybe I’m wrong to try to keep mum. Maybe I shouldn’t be sorry for going over movie adaptations with a fine-tooth comb. In moderation, of course.

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