‘Fixing’ Source Material

Fix It Felix

I know this one is going to bite me in the ass.  Just can’t stop myself because this has been bugging me for months.  Pretty sure I’ll see some people pop up in the comments who I haven’t heard from in a long time too.  Why?  Because this is a topic that I’ve seen cause a lot of conflict and I’m stepping in it.

A while back, Amazon put out the ‘Rings of Power’ . . . I wasn’t done, so put away the pitchforks!  I didn’t have any interest in this from the beginning because I didn’t trust Amazon.  Got worse when I heard they only got rights to the ‘Return of the King’ appendices.  That made me think they just wanted the name and were going to do whatever they felt like doing.  I only paid attention enough to have conversations and heard a few episodes that my parents watched.  Took a peek and just couldn’t garner much interest.  Part of that stems from a phrase that popped up too.

Now, we all know the battle that took place over this series.  Certain changes were made and certain groups got angry, which turned the whole debacle into a mess that Sauron would have been proud of.  People wanted to see more diversity in LOTR, which is fine and they made it a focal point.  Okay, that’s not a bad thing as long as you have it make sense and try to hold to the lore.  I mean, this is a beloved franchise that has years of lore and thousands upon thousands of fans.  Best to treat such changes with . . .

People started saying they were going to ‘fix’ the Lord of the Rings.

As an author, this made me see red because it shows a severe disrespect to the source material.  It says that the source material is wrong and broken, which is different than saying you want to modernize it.  Modernize means it’s old and should be altered for modern audiences.  Fixed means it was always flawed and now it’s going to be turned into the story it should have always been.  There’s just a level of arrogance, disrespect, and sneering disdain that stems from that phrase.

I really think this was a bad argument for Tolkien.  He’s dead, so he can’t defend himself or comment on the changes.  Amazon didn’t even get enough of the lore for them to ‘fix’ anything.  It’s like rewriting one of Beethoven’s symphonies, but you only have a cymbal and a kazoo with gum stuck over one of the holes.  You don’t have the tools to ‘fix’ the overall story.  You can modernize and give your own version of it, but that’s really the limit.

‘Fix’ always gives the idea that this new version is going to replace the original.  Again, we’re talking about a story whose author is deceased.  Most of the people cheering for this never read the originals or know anything beyond the Jackson movies.  So, they have no connection to the originals, which means this does become their version.  ‘Fixing’ means there’s no reason to read ‘Lord of the Rings’ because you’ve noted it as flawed and inferior to ‘Rings of Power’.  All this really does is create a schism in a franchise where people battle over their versions of a story.  Not that we haven’t been seeing that go on for the past few years, but that’s another post that I’m not writing.

I know it’s one phrase that pissed me off and I can’t even remember if it was uttered by supporters or people involved.  Yet, I saw it getting used in comment sections after it came about.  I saw people saying that the source material isn’t important and there’s no reason to stay even remotely true to it.  If the author is dead, they have no interest in preserving any of the original.  Even though I doubt my stories will ever be adapted because I have no fan-base, it’s scary to think that what I put my heart and soul into would be treated with such callousness.  Stories are the legacy of their authors and small pieces that they left behind.  To say that they need to be ‘fixed’ just frustrates me.

Hopefully, I’m not going to walk into a fight in the comments.  I know ‘Rings of Power’ was/is controversial.  I really couldn’t care less about it.  A key desire for me with any adaptation is that respect is shown to the source material both in the writing and the promotions.  Don’t feel that was done with this phrase, so I needed to make some kind of rant.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to ‘Fixing’ Source Material

  1. noelleg44 says:

    I am absolutely in your corner, Charles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    Charles, I saw some episodes and I think know what you mean. The thought that someone has the mindset that he or she knows “better” and has the “right” to change the characters and plotlines of other authors at will based on a modern-day viewpoint. I’m all for diversity. But diversity isn’t all that effective if it’s just shoehorned into a story without thought to real-life factors like geography, migration patterns, culture, etc. I’m also disturbed that someone wouldn’t bother trying to understand why Tolkien wrote his books in the first place and would then, based on assumptions about him that might be erroneous, make changes and lead others to come to conclusions based on the same assumptions.

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    • I couldn’t bring myself to watch. The interview quotes about ‘fixing the lore’ really turned me off. Many said it didn’t matter why he wrote the stories. Others said he was a terrible person for how he did it. Just more reasons to get driven away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        I can’t speak for the interviews where people admitted to deliberately changing lore, because I didn’t watch any of the interviews by the creators of the show. I wanted to watch it, because I remember how irked I felt when I recommended the Harry Potter books to people only to be told how “evil” they were, though the people I talked to hadn’t read them. So I gave it a shot. The episodes I saw were beautiful to look at. That’s probably where a lot of the money went. Ultimately, I decided the show wasn’t for me, because of the character changes and some aspects that didn’t seem to fit THE SILMARILLION or Tolkien’s faith and his other reasons for writing his books.

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      • It was pretty and that’s the only consistent positive I’ve heard. They didn’t even have rights to The Silmarillion. All they got were the Return of the King appendices. So they couldn’t even touch most of the lore. Why even bother at that point?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not seen Rings of Power, or any other Amazon/Netflix adaptations of classics, nor am I likely to since I’ve no interest in subscribing to them, but I do think it’s silly to ‘fix’ them any more than has already been done when you compare the books with the movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jowensauthor says:

    I totally agree with you on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you, Charles. Any “fixing” of a story needs to honor the source material.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear you, Charles. It irritates me when someone decides to adapt a dead author’s work, whether it be Peter Pan or Little Fuzzy. Authors should be creative enough to develop our own ideas and not copy.

    That said, I watched Rings of Power and found it satisfying on its own merits. In fact, I blogged about the show myself. Take a look if you’re interested. https://wyrmflight.wordpress.com/2022/10/08/rings-of-power/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Authors really should be able to make their own ideas. If they take a pre-existing story, they should be good enough to retain the essence and most of the lore to make sense of the project. That’s why I had issues with RoP. They only got a the appendices of RotK. So, most of what they made was their own, which ignored a lot of lore. It felt empty and unoriginal too. More flash than substance.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We watched it, and my wife liked it. It really was a shallow money grab and aimed at a specific audience. I still can’t figure out why my wife enjoyed it. The whole thing kind of irritated me. Tolkien was so detailed that if he diversified it, he would have made some sense of how it was done. Ways you mentioned. The diversity was barely a blip to me. It was the changes to the whole tone of LOTR and its characterizations that turned me off. Accounting departments are in charge right now and successful properties are where they’re directing funds. Everything that was remotely interesting is being repurposed in cash grabs. Something new and fresh doesn’t stand a chance right now.

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    • As shallow as a desert. It seemed to be promoted for Tolkien fans, but made for those who only had a casual or no knowledge of the lore. Diversity was made the focal point even though it was minor. I think that was done to create controversy and hide the low quality of the plot.

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      • Money grab. Rush it out without concern for quality. Get those subscribers to sign up since they won’t just cancel.

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      • I was reading about the origins a bit. Amazon wanted to fill the GoT void. They were going to create two fantasy series. LOTR was to be the family one and Conan would be an adult one. A new person was put in charge and saw Conan as misogynistic violence, so they canceled it. The show runner went on to create the newest GoT show and bury RoP. They then went about turning RoP into a flagship for diversity and social messaging. Story supposedly came second.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is a lot of that going on now. Some of the anti commentary has gotten toxic, too. I’d just like to enjoy a good story and characters without all the statements about modern society.

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    • V.M.Sang says:

      Absolutely, Craig. Money rules. And not only ‘fixing’ well-loved classics. Look how we’re getting so many fictionalised programmes on TV. We first had The Crown, then the one about Boris Johnson (I forget what it’s called). Stuff about people still alive. Not documentaries. Oh no. Fictionalised accounts. This is dangerous as people think it’s true. But it pays good bucks, so why worry about the truth?
      To even suggest that LotR needs fixing is disrespectful and rude. Are we going to see Shakespeare ‘fixed’, or Chaucer? Why not fix all the classics while they’re about it? (Shouldn’t have said that, even tongue in cheek. They may well have that in mind.)

      Liked by 1 person

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