Vampires and Deadly Games: The Unfortunate Shift in Teen Movies
Quiz question: What does Twilight, The Hunger Games, and City of Bones all have in common? The answer: they are all teen novels being adapted (or have since been adapted) into a series of teen-oriented films.
It’s no secret that Hollywood is often hungry for ideas. It shouldn’t be a big surprise then that their latest craze is to take the most recent teen novel and turn it into a film. It’s already proven successful with the famous Twilight series, and has already had a positive start with the first film of The Hunger Games. Now the trailers are out for City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures, both of which are the first book in a popular teen book series. Add to that the fact that the series Matched has just been optioned by Disney, and you’ve got more than enough proof that Hollywood is starting to pay attention to the teen section in its local book store.
The temptation here is to ask whether or not this is a positive trend. The real question would be what’s the impact? Let’s face it, when Hollywood starts optioning teen novels for production, nearly everyone wins. Promoting a film for an already popular book means most of the hard work is already done for you. It’s already in the public spectrum and usually well-received. News of a movie production often sends teens flocking to bookstores to get a copy of the book to read before the movie comes out (such was the case with the popular Hunger Games). If the film does well, fantastic! It’s usually the first book in a series, which means more films can be made from the remaining films. If not, that’s okay. It was only one film rather than a series flop. No harm, no foul (as it was with the adaptation I Am Number Four).
I’m the first one to admit that news of a novel adaptation often sends me straight to the bookstore. When Neil Gaiman’s Coraline was released to theaters, I ran straight out and bought the book to read. But part of that comes from me being a voracious reader. Most teens, as far as I can testify, are not. And if they in fact pick up the book, they often don’t get through it. Let’s be honest: how many of us would have read the book if we could just go and see the movie? I sure wouldn’t have read a lot of the books in high school if there was a movie available, that’s for sure.
The main difficulty I’m having with this constant routine of book to movie to book to movie is that the teen film industry is being inundated with nothing but dark, supernatural content.
Every time I turn around, it’s another film about vampires or dark secrets or wereboys in sheep’s clothing. Soon it’s going to be hard to separate one from another. And as far as I’m concerned, if it wasn’t mentioned in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed, then it’s not crucial vampire or supernatural lore. Please, in the name of the Academy Awards, give me a heroine I can cheer on who isn’t a halfblood, part vampire, full witch, or fighting for their lives with every waking moment. No wonder our teens are having an identity crisis. I’m having a sympathy crisis for the same reason!
I understand that this is a growing trend in the teen book industry to have these dark supernatural books. I understand that it’s in Hollywood’s best interest to make these books into movies as fast as they can to keep the seats filled in their theaters. I also know that somewhere, wherever he is, John Hughes is still writing teen films. And I can almost guarantee that none of them are about vampires or witches or teens killing each other. And I’ll bet they’d still be better than even what the best teen novel has to offer.