omething that’s been bugging me.
So in Game of Thrones, the character Tyrion (as I recall) is a bit of a hideous dwarf. His eyes are lopsided, he limps along, he’s kinda grotesque. And later in the books (spoiler) he gets slashed across the face. Now he’s really messed up, with his once knobby nose is now really scrambled. I think it was actually cut open. Yeah, he was a sight to see (which made the book even more interesting since as the reader progressed, they began liking Tyrion more and more). The guy was fighting genes and family to survive in the world.
Now, I didn’t see the show but I’ve seen pictures. Here, Tyrion is still a dwarf but he’s played by actor Peter Dinklage who is a handsome devil. Also, that mutilated face? It’s now a kinda romantic scar. I just did a “huh” on that and moved on.
Then I read Mortal Engines. Here, Hester Shaw (the heroine of sorts) is also facially sword-scrambled. And it was bad. Her face was really messed up, the sort of damage that makes the male lead gasp. But in the ill-fated movie adaptation, she’s got some scaring but nothing too bad – a mark across chin and cheek, but her nose isn’t mashed to the side (as in the book).
So what is it with Hollywood and their test audiences? Why is it that we can read all sorts of horrible things and deal with it, but in movies we have to tone it down? Frankly, I’ve seen shit in movies that made me gulp and blink. But why is it that we can’t follow the idea of a book and have a mangled hero that we can actually find value in? Is it that audiences can’t deal with the same empathy and acceptance that readers can generate? Or is it just that the directors (and their studios) don’t want to attempt a difficult character development? Either way, it makes us less humane if, in our various medias, we love watching damage inflicted to others but cannot see it done to our own heroes. It makes a tale that could be significant into something that is trite.
I’ve mentioned this in other DOG EARS, but never shy away (as a writer) from difficult, damaged heroes. Give them warts and scars and blemishes, then do your damnedest to get your readers buy-in. Otherwise, you aren’t producing a thoughtful and interesting novel – you are just rehashing the simplistic stories that preceded your own.