Recently the amount of angst over the ending of the latest series of Game of Thrones has had the Internet in an uproar. The sheer number of people crying over [SPOILER ALERT!] all the deaths at the Red Wedding tells me one thing – the way people enjoy the media nowadays is the complete reversal of the way we used to enjoy it when I was younger, and in the generations before me.
If we watched something like that, we had either read the book (most often) and so knew exactly what to expect, or what was most likely to happen, or had a vague idea from the sheer number of people who had read the book around them. Nowadays – with the very notable exceptions of the Harry Potter and Twilight series – it is very rare that people will have read the books before watching anything.
Okay, I understand that if they read the books then there would be no surprises, but that didn’t stop the Lord of the Rings trilogy from making a shed-load of money and even an Oscar or two. Mind you, of course then we wouldn’t have videos of people’s reactions, filmed by those who knew what was coming because they’d read the books…
I guess there are two sides to this – reading the books prepares you for what’s about to happen, but sometimes that gut reaction of realising something for the first time can still make you relish the film more. Then again, I knew what was coming in the final Lord of the Rings film and I was still sitting on the edge of my seat and winced with every setback. And I know kids who had read the Harry Potter books completely, and yet still cried when Dumbledore died.
But there was something a little off about the Red Wedding on TV. In my mind, when I read the book, there was a lot more blood, screaming and general carnage. There is something to be said for a reader’s imagination filling in the blanks.
So what I’m saying is… Reading is better.