You've raised my expectations and dashed them quite expertly

I just saw a clip from the new Great Expectations film.  This  is about the kajillionth film adaptation of Charles Dickens' book that has been made.  The plot, in case you never went to high school, is about a silly lad who A) suddenly (after she smacks him in the face) and foolishly falls in love with a girl programmed to destroy his happiness, and B) is mysteriously given a fortune, which he promptly squanders.  I can't help thinking it's a Stupid Book.

Still, I will admit there are a couple of interesting moments in this book, things I have mentioned previously so I won't belabor them here.  But are they enough to merit the continued torture of young American teenagers?  It's my belief that assigning Great Expectations to a 14-year-old is a sure way to undermine any interest that individual may have in reading.

It's also my belief that filmmakers are perfectly aware of the effect reading Great Expectations has on young minds (i.e., it curdles them).  And I am therefore led to the related conclusion that, for the past 80 years at least, there has been a sort of conspiracy between filmmakers and English departments:  it takes a lot of trouble to teach literature well, and lots of teachers (many who haven't even read the works they're supposed to be teaching) have been persuaded by filmmakers (quietly working through educational media distributors) that it would be much easier and just as effective to show a film to their students.  So these teachers pay exorbitant amounts for films of classic novels (sometimes the district comes through with some money, and sometimes teachers get grants, but I think maybe there is also some serious misuse of PTA funds going on), so they can show the movie and sit back and do crossword puzzles or read the newspaper or play games on their phones or whatever during their free time.

Think about it:  how many of you experienced "supplemental" viewings of the classics -- like Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Scarlet Letter, Of Mice and Men, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre and, of course, Great Expectations -- in your literature classes?  And isn't it time to put a stop to this practice?


Adrien said...

I vaguely remember watching Huckleberry Finn something in 7th grade English class and it had Jonathan Taylor Thomas and that's all I remember. Hah. And I think we probably watched some version of Great Expectations in 9th grade. Maybe that "supplementary viewing" led me to such distress that I did not turn in my paper on Romeo and Juliet and consequently got a B in the class and then couldn't be in AP European History the next year. I'm not bitter :)

Shannon said...

Any "supplemental viewing" I did in Marty Hauck's class was awesome because we actually read the book and you could tell that he had too (and we had full disclosure that it was for entertainment). Any "supplemental viewing" I did in Tim Hauck's class was a ridiculous excuse for presentation of literature. It wasn't even the *good* version of Scarlet Letter. But I read the books anyway. Also, Marty's was an honors class and Tim's was bonehead. That might've been something.

Megan said...

Mmmmm I don't really have a problem with this, actually, only because I don't think everyone necessarily uses it that way. And how much spending is actually allotted to buying film adaptations? I'm guessing not that much. But maybe you were joking... I'm not always able to tell when people are. :P

I agree that G.E. is seriously overrated, though, and it puzzles me exceedingly that they keep remaking movies of it.