Unless you’ve been living under a rock during the past year, you’re probably aware of the soon to be released movie adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. While I am a fan of John Green, I have thus far been mostly trying to avoid talking about him because he has enough publicity and defenders as it is. However, all of the John Green hate that I have been seeing recently has made me think about how the relationship between an author and it’s readers has changed because of technology and the internet, and how that relationship changes when a book is turned into a movie.
Of course, as a persons fame grows the people with negative opinions of them are going to increase at the same rate. But it’s one thing for people to hold opinions of a celebrity and another for them to directly, verbally assault that celebrity just because they can. From this post we can see that John Green has dealt with it pretty well, giving a response that carefully avoids being argumentative while still reminding the readers that he is still a person with feelings.
Now, this isn’t a new thing. Authors have been subject to rude opinions for as long as pens have been put to paper. What is new, however, is how accessible both authors and the hate they are receiving are. Now any schmuck with a smart phone can send a cruel at-reply on Twitter or anon hate on Tumblr. I would think that authors are a little bit safer from this than other kinds of celebrities as they are less visible than movie stars and musicians, but that relative invisibility goes away when their work is adapted into a movie. It would seem that the combination of a movies visibility and the modern accessibility of creators through the internet causes authors to see much more hate than they ever have in the past.
I’ve often talked about how the internet allows greater communities to be involved, and authors to interact with their fans more intimately, but we can’t deny the negative impacts as well. I’ve also talked about how movies affect books themselves, but I think we also need to look at how they affect the authors. It’s always a huge risk for authors to allow their books to made into films. For one thing, usually authors sell the rights to their book to production companies and retains no creative control over the film. But, if the movie is received poorly it’s the author that will have to deal with the brunt of the hate, not the directors. We saw this a lot with Stephanie Meyer, the author of Twilight. Her books may receive criticism as well, but she wouldn’t have to come under such scrutiny with out the addition of the films. Readers and critics often don’t understand that the quality of a movie has nothing to do with the author. They may be responsible for the story, but a film is a much different representation of that story than the book.
I’d be interested to know how often authors receive hate mail before the invention of the internet. I’m sure it happened, since it wasn’t uncommon for authors to receive fan mail, but I’m almost certain that the interactions that occurred before the internet could not come close to the frequency of interactions that technology allows. Since authors are so accessible, readers feel more entitled to get something from them and they feel that they have the right to demand it. Social media has caused a lot of the walls to come down between professionals and their fans which is amazing – and terrifying.