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Happy New Year, and a puzzlement - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Happy New Year, and a puzzlement
Happy Rosh Hoshana.

I shouldn't be posting, or on my computer, but insomnia is a drag when you can't pace it off.

Anyway, I had a fandom puzzlement occur to me. In fanfic, we carefully have everything Brit-picked. I'm glad of the people who Britpick me even when I'm frustrated to no end ("A five page post and the comments are about cookie vs. biscuit?" ;)), because I think it helps to try and get the setting right.

So here's the thing. A fanfic writer slips and writes that the kids graduate from school or someone has a Mom instead of a Mum, and there's a gentle but firm push to remove the Americanism, and I happen to think that's a good idea. Alphonso Cuaron stuck Dia de los Muertos candies into the PoA movie... but rather than saying, "Er, Mr. Cuaron, it's very pretty, but it's a Mexicanism," people say, "Oh, cool! He's putting Mexican things at Hogwarts!" I can see either being glad to see different cultures inserted or asking that subsidiary creators remain faithful to the book's setting, but I'm puzzled by why the first is corrected and the second celebrated.

That's today's puzzlement.

Also, an art peeve. Remus with facial scars or pointed ears--either would kind of make people ask questions that would be on the uncomfortable side, wouldn't they?
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Comments
silverhill From: silverhill Date: September 15th, 2004 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
L'shanah tovah. :)

Oh, and I never thought much about the Remus with scars thing, but you're absolutely right.
dramaturgy From: dramaturgy Date: September 15th, 2004 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Pointed ears" just makes me think they're trying to make Remus look like Legolas. Which is, er, an interesting way to cross the fandoms but doesn't really work.
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From: hobviously Date: September 15th, 2004 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
In regards to your query: I accept Cuaron's additions because they are that - additions, not replacements. He's clear on the fact that El Dia de los Muertos isn't celebrated in Britain, and doesn't pretend that it is, has none of the kids saying anything about it, but simply gives us some, har har, eye candy to look at, and some people will think "hmm, candy" and others will think "calaveras! ay de mi!" I am perfectly willing to accept that Honeydukes might actually stock Mexican sugar skulls; I've certainly known American places to carry items that pertain to a different culture, and we don't really know how international relations are amongst Wizarding cultures.
Somebody I know was very annoyed at Cuaron's (IMO) biggest visual tribute to Mexico, the eagle-eating-snakes fountain, on the grounds that Hogwarts would never have statuary depicting one house mascot killing another. I understand her reasoning but disagree, because I think in a school like Hogwarts the likelihood is that there's plenty of propaganda art against other houses, since they're so encouraged to compete; besides, the school IS 1000 years old. Maybe some Ravenclaws commissioned the statue after a particularly brutal defeat of Slytherin at Quidditch. I could dig it.
Personally, I like the Mexican flavour Cuaron brought to PoA, because it reminds me that the Wizarding world, and Hogwarts, do not exist in a vacuum - they are part of a global society. Also, I have a big crush on everything Mexican, but as that kind of destroys my argument, I won't get into that. ;]
liwy From: liwy Date: September 16th, 2004 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Somebody I know was very annoyed at Cuaron's (IMO) biggest visual tribute to Mexico, the eagle-eating-snakes fountain, on the grounds that Hogwarts would never have statuary depicting one house mascot killing another.

I would say it's probably a non-issue, since the eagle isn't a house mascot.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: September 16th, 2004 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I have issues with scarred movie Remus too. Mostly because, if a character had distinctive facial scars like that, JK would have mentioned it. I had issues with the movie werewolf as well. I got the impression from the books that it was kind of hard to distinguish a werewolf from a real wolf. Certainly at first glance. I think I imagined his self-healing abilities to be somewhat Wolverine-like; painful but fast and inevitable, ergo - no scarring.

As far as the Mexican influences are concerned... I can't say they bothered me overly much except that there seemed to be less celtic stuff. McGonagall's stunning green robes had gone (to be replaced with a drab green robe, the material of which looked like it had been bought in a 'bargain basement' sale), and the beautiful celtic patterns on the invisibilty cloak seemed to have been replaced with generic stars and moons. I also want to add here that I preferred Dumbledore's wardrobe in the first 2 films. Every time I saw Gambon's Dumbledore I couldn't help thinking how cold he would be! (I just kept telling myself he had lots of woolies on under the silks! ;~) )

The skulls and skeleton sweets were appropriate enough. My only gripe was that there seemed to be an awful lot of them. I really would have liked to see more of the 'canon' sweets, like sugarquills and such.

Nevertheless, I can understand your gripe regarding the Brit-picking when compared to the Mexican additions in the film. As far as fanfic is concerned, a lot of (though not all) non-Britishisms stick out like glaring neon signs for me, and can definately make me think less of the fic. Things like characters making out in a steamy loo... eeep! No, I don't think I'll ever get over that one. ;~P
myf From: myf Date: September 16th, 2004 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
You're kidding? steamy loo?

*dies laughing* That's brilliant.
From: magnolia_mama Date: September 16th, 2004 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
As to your first remark, Happy New Year! May it be filled with joy and blessings.

As to your second, I think the key word is "American." American cultural influences are everywhere, and I think the most devoted of Brit-pickers are concerned more with preventing its seepage into what they firmly believe is a distinctly non-American world. I often see a similar mindset when it comes to OCs: people who are generally accepting of OCs quite often backtrack when the OC in question happens to be American.

MM
vytresna From: vytresna Date: September 16th, 2004 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not just Americans that get me - French and Japanese OCs have about exactly the same effect. This is because of the tonnage of Mary Sues coming from America, France and Japan.

But then, I'm distinctly NOT resentful of American influence.
myf From: myf Date: September 16th, 2004 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
My take on your point is that there's such a difference, to me, between fanfic and the films - and that's the medium. I don't see the films as trying to 'emulate' the books as such, but as a different, visual interpretation. So when Cuarón adds foreign touches to the film, it's not necessarily inconsistent with canon because I see the link between the films and canon to be a lot looser than between canon and other writing, that is, fanfic. But given what I know about your opinion on 'purity' in film adaptations, I can see why you'd have the view you've just written about.

And sorry if I'm one of the people who just leaves a comment with a Britpick in it. The reason being when I read fanfic, I like to think I'm reading something that is completely consistent with JKR's world. And when I see 'cookie' instead of 'biscuit', it's like a red flashing light, reminding me that this is a US writer, not JKR. And the reason it probably jars more in your fics than in many other writers is because, other than that, I really can start to believe I'm holding JKR's writing. So I hope you can see it as a compliment, if somewhat double-edged.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2004 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I don't mean to complain about the Britpicking, actually--yes, I'll admit to a little frustration sometimes, but I recognize this as a fault in myself. I just wonder at the inconsistency of response... it seems odd that more is expected of amateurs than pros, you know?

And you're right, my views of adaptations in general are involved. I don't see them as significantly different from fanfic or fan art. Of course, I don't know if fan art is Britpicked or not, as my art is still at the point of getting comments like, "That's, er.... interesting." ;)
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: September 16th, 2004 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I get annoyed by the relentlessness of the Britpicking. For one thing, the early books were Americanized a lot in the editions which most Americans have read, so the American writers didn't have a chance to learn which terms JKR would have used herself (and not everyone can afford to shell out the bucks for the British editions or go to Canada and get a copy, either.) And for another thing, it's electronic text most of the time! If the Americanisms really jar you, then cutnpaste into a Word file, run your British spellcheck and change the words you dislike the most before you read to comment! But don't take some poor fanwriter's hard work and reduce it to, "Oh, that word on page 20 annoys me so I'm going to reject the whole effort!"

It's a hobby, dammit. And not all of us have the experience or time to work out which irregular nouns are no longer in common use in which particular dialect of British English. I've seen writers corrected for using terms I learned from reading British novels, for crying out loud...

Characters OOC, yeah, that's a problem, but not because they said they graduated or they had a cookie, for crying out loud. When Hermione starts doing fan-dances in the Great Hall it's a different thing entirely.

Although it must be confessed that any writer who can get me to the point where Hermione is doing a fan-dance in the Great Hall and make me believe it shall be worshipped...</small>
From: peppa_minto Date: September 16th, 2004 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree, mostly. The books take place in Britain, and if people ever want to become good writers then the must know how the people would talk, act, or live depending on which place/era they choose. Now since my fanfics are HP, I try to stay as Brit as possible. If there is a problem, I want it pointed out. I don't want the rest of the story disregarded because I made one mistake, but I would still like to know what that one mistake is.

I may never stop writing "realized" in place of "realised." Or "favorite" in place of "favourite." But the slang is what I want to write properly. The reason I don't worry about "u"s and "s"s is because if a character says,

"I realize you're angry with me..."

The fact that I spelt it "realize" isn't going to change what the sentance means or how it is said. However, if someone writes this.

"You have a stain on your pants..." Hermione told Harry.

Well, people might want to know why Hermione is looking at Harry in his underwear! The proper term would have been "trousers." Trousers go over pants.
From: peppa_minto Date: September 16th, 2004 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Pointed ears, rediculous to think he has them. Light scars? I bet he has them. Fresh cuts and scrapes? I would bet he has a few of those, too.
sreya From: sreya Date: September 16th, 2004 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
The scars idea doesn't bother me too much. He is a Dark Arts specialist, so presumably he's been called upon in one fashion or another to go into dangerous situations, and scars would be easily explained. (Heck, look at Moody!) The gash across his face didn't bother me that way, although it did bother me because a) it didn't look particularly realistic, and b) it makes me sit and wonder just WHAT kind of contortions he had to put himself into as a werewolf to give himself that kind of a scar in that particular place!

Pointed ears? Absolutely out of the question! WAY too obvious.


And YES, the extent of the Mexican paraphrenalia got on my nerves, too. I didn't mind it so much in the candy shop (although I'll agree with whoever bemoaned the loss of what we were expecting to see!) as I can see the shops bringing in exotic goods. But the gratuitous use of it throughout the film was jarring, particularly when it wasn't just a little thing in the background, but something they shoved into the foreground, like the shrunken head on the Knight Bus. :/

But then, I'm a bit weird. I really enjoy the movies, but I'll complain about everything -- right down the the clothing on the kids being the wrong style for the early 90s!
From: lnevans Date: September 16th, 2004 06:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus with facial scars or pointed ears--either would kind of make people ask questions that would be on the uncomfortable side, wouldn't they?

I'm all in favor of small, almost hidden facial scars. I think he'd definetely have some sort of facial blemishes. But pointy ears? Can't stand them. It would definetely bring up some uncomfortable questions, and I really don't like to see Remus with pointy ears.

(I also don't like to see a werewolf that looks like a ghostly greyhound, but that's another story.)
melyanna From: melyanna Date: September 16th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
(I also don't like to see a werewolf that looks like a ghostly greyhound, but that's another story.)

Amen.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: September 16th, 2004 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Happy New Year!

Pointed ears? On Remus Lupin? I think some people are confusing him with Legolas (snort). They are NOT interchangeable hotties!

I agree with all those who posted and said they thought Harry would have noticed if Remus had a lot of visible scars. A few on his body I can accept but heavy facial scars or scars on areas not covered with clothing, no. Besides, how would werewolf!Remus have the flexibility to scar his face?

Cuaron's additions: Hello to all fangirls who are squeeing about how R/S is SOOOO CANON because "Cuaron put it in PoA!!" Dia de los Muertos sugar skeletons are not HP canon either. Nor would Invisible!Harry have stolen poor Neville's lollypop. I loved the feel of Cuaron's PoA but it is NOT impeccably true-to-canon nor do I think that Cuaron put in all sorts of additions because JKR told him to.

As hobviously put it in a great rant in her own LJ, the movies are fan art. Expensive and very KEWL fan art to be sure, but fan art. I am not looking to the movies for my canon. I might have Zonko's have those sugar skeletons as novelty imports, however - I can definitely see Zonko's stocking imported sweets from around the world (at prices the Weasleys can't afford, lol) alongside the Fizzing Whizzbees and Sugar Quills.

Britpicking: I try my best but as an American who doesn't live in Britain, I am not going to get everything right. A story full of blatant Americanisms where it is obvious the author didn't even try is one thing, but going into hissy fits over one little slipup in twenty pages is taking pickitude too far, IMO. Pointing it out in a review is fine (and if I were the author I'd appreciate catching any of my slipups) but when reviewers focus only on the Britpicking mistakes I want to ask: What about the story itself? What did you think of it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Besides, how would werewolf!Remus have the flexibility to scar his face?

Oddly I could sort of figure that out--dogs scractch at their faces with their hind claws. Must have been a particularly irritating itch. ;)
sannalim From: sannalim Date: September 16th, 2004 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy new year!
I made honey cake last night in honour of the occasion and I thought about you. :)
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: September 16th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
See? I missed out on the candy thing.
Adn i'm oen of those you'd have to goggle over and stamp yoru feet because I'm using US and brithsish englished mixed up. Its' what yo uget when your'e dutch Ithink...


Pointy ears?! *frowns* hunh?
srevans From: srevans Date: September 16th, 2004 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here from [Unknown LJ tag]'s flist.

Um, "Alphonso"? Also an Americanism. It's spelled "Alfonso," because in Spanish "Alphonso" would be pronounced "al-pa-hon-so," or something approximately equivalent. =)

Also Britpicking, so I'm not cookie-v-biscuiting the post: magnolia_mama makes a good point somewhere up in the thread about how she does make a conscious effort to fix the vocabulary but not the spelling. In the end, I'm probably breaking three or four rules of British English anyway so it's really not worth it much beyond that.
srevans From: srevans Date: September 16th, 2004 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
... lnevans's flist, that is.
buongiornodaisy From: buongiornodaisy Date: September 16th, 2004 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has little to do with your post, but I got a question: Do you mind if I use a part of your fic, "Lines of Decent", for a speech I'm going to write for one of my class? I'm just going to print out one of the chapters and explain its significance to me and the Harry Potter "culture". Oh, and which religion do you follow? Just curious. :)

As for scarred!Remus...thanks to that big, lovely scar on his face, mom knew right away something was wrong with him. So, yeah. But nothing's more obvious that Remus's boggart being a full moon. A silver orb is a little less obvious. It took me forever to figure out why Persephone's having a gun with silver bullets was significant in The Matrix Reloaded. But a silver orb is hard to film...
vytresna From: vytresna Date: September 16th, 2004 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is a full moon, just not a really obvious one adorned with clouds and stuff.

Oh, and look up every reference to goblets in Chapter Five of Order of the Phoenix. Should boost your morale.
gnomi From: gnomi Date: September 19th, 2004 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
L'shanah tovah!
amberdulen From: amberdulen Date: September 19th, 2004 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
This being the fifty-second comment on this thread, I somehow doubt anyone will notice it, but I'm going to post anyway because, heck, I like reading my own words. :-)

It seems to me that Cuaron's changes are acceptable because they're not mistakes; they're intentional. I have an American character who has a Mom (well, not really but that's a long story), eats cookies and celebrates Thanksgiving, and I've only ever been called on it once. Cuaron doesn't have Hogwarts celebrating Dia de los Muertos, he just mentions some outside wizarding cultural influences that JKR could easily have glossed over; nothing is wrong necessarily, just additional. Not to mention that whatever made it into the movie had to go through JKR's filter; no fanfic has that stamp of approval.

I also want to offer a different view on the pointy-eared Remus (since I'm contrary like that). At the height of the werewolf frenzy in France, say the 18th century or so, guidelines were set of how you could tell a werewolf if you saw one: moon-shaped tattoo, long left-hand thumbnail, index finger longer than the middle finger, that sort of thing. That was back when people believed in physiognomy: being able to tell someone's traits and personality by the way their skull was shaped, or more generally by their facial features. Woodcuts were circulated of "typical werewolf faces" -- you can find these in a good book about lycanthropy. The drawings show people with a sloping forehead, particularly long nose with extended "muzzle" (jaw area) and, yes, slightly pointed ears. So in terms of werewolf canon, there's nothing wrong with them ... but since Jo tends toward Hollywood werewolves instead of the true legends, I'm not sure how much merit that argument has.
missizzy From: missizzy Date: September 28th, 2004 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
People are aware that Cuaron is an artist and so they try to cut to cut him slack. Haven't you noticed that we're all very eager to blame everything bad about the movie on Kloves? Oh no, Cuaron had nothing to do with it!
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