The Media Inferiority Complex

Okay, short rant. Movie adaptations are just the worst. Not because every adaptation is immediately bad, but because of the the drama around it.

Film has, as it currently stands, a standing as the primary entertainment medium in the world. It may have taken a few decades, but for the better part of a century now, cinema is considered the most prestigious medium to produce for, combining the legitimacy of the stage with the wide accessibility of television. Yet whenever an adaptation from a different medium looms at the horizon, there will be trouble.

You’ve been part of a fandom, you know how this goes. The endless years between announcement and release talking about every single snippet of information, and then, worst of all, the reviews. Comic adaptations, at least from my point of view, have gotten it the worst. Every single adaptation needs to be seen as the the ultimate version of something. If Afleck sucks at Batman, everything is ruined, if a certain story line is mistreated, it is ruined. Ruined forever even.

The focus on big budget movie or television adaptations for everything is, frankly, pathetic. A couple of months ago in a conversation with my friends Jessica and Peter (yay, citations) we came up with a good term for it in our usual rants about Marvel and DC: the media inferiority complex. Novels, web original television, comic books, video games, the medium the creators originally chose isn’t because they suck at film making it’s because that medium has unique properties needed to tell that story well, couldn’t be accomplished with a budget because of limitations, has too small a target audience, you name the reasons. 

Media is not a game of rock/paper/scissors, there is no medium that automatically beats another. What matters is execution, story, quality. An animated movie is not worse or less legitimate than a live-action one. The Batman/Superman movie from the 90s is, for instance, a superior take on the dichotomy of the Batman/Superman relationship, that the live-action movie failed to capture. If storytellers and audiences finally stopped to consider the automatic legitimacy of film over any other form of artistic expression, we could focus on the actual quality of the material at hand, appreciating the quality of a comic book or a video game or a novel on their own, rather than looking longingly in the eyes of some big shot Hollywood director.

In the information age we have finally the right medium to communicate a work of art to the exact right audience all by the power of a simple hashtag and hyperlink. Use this to find legitimacy, not by waiting to be legitimized by rows of people snacking on popcorn.

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Author: Alex

Full time student, part time "writer" of things.

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