April 6, 2018

"There are a lot of movies about reading. I think there are a lot of people who consume movies that cater to their self-image as a reader of books."

"It's quite silly," I wrote in the comments to the post about the trailer for the high-action, special-effects HBO movie based on "Fahrenheit 451." My comment was inspired by a comment from Ron Winkleheimer:
I'm surprised that HBO made this movie since the people in charge are all leftists. I suppose they are still flattering themselves about being the side that's in favor of knowledge and learning and free speech and all that.
What are the movies about reading that cater to this vanity I'm imagining exists?

Here's "25 best movies about books" (Stuff), but many of these are about writing books. The central character is a writer, not a reader. "Neverending Story" "The Princess Bride," "Fahrenheit 451," "Misery"... those fit my search.

Here's "When movie characters read books." For example, the guy in "Friends with Kids" reads "Cod," so, yeah, you get it: That guy! The guy who reads "Cod." Matilda reads "Moby-Dick." You know what that means!

Anyway... it's a hypothesis. Something else reading-related that I was reading this morning is "RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Fun, Friends, Maybe More" (New York Magazine):
[A] fun and playfully shady conversation between several of the queens has Asia O’Hara reading Vixen for wearing someone else’s wig during last week’s Best Drag runway. It’s an understandable thing to pick at, and the Vixen responds good-naturedly about it. Until Aquaria butts in.

“Can we talk about how your best drag is someone else’s wig, though? That’s confusing.” Game over. As the Vixen prepares to go fully in on Aquaria in response, a spider crawls its way up someone’s tulle and wreaks total pandemonium* with its mere existence....
Boldface added. I had to look up "reading" in Urban Dictionary:
In gay culture, the act of pointing out a flaw in someone else (usually publicly and in front of them) and exaggerating it.

Gay guy 1: "Those shorts weren't made for you, honey. Look at that muffin top. More like a cupcake top!"

Gay guy 2: "Bitch, why are you reading me?
Also, "read":
To tell someone about themself, mostly used by gay black men.

"That was a read honey!"
"Don't do it hone[y], I will read your ass"
Great slang. Perfect!
___________________________

* Pandemonium — originally "The abode of all demons; hell, the infernal regions" (OED) — is now usually "Utter confusion, uproar; wild and noisy disorder; a tumult; chaos." Like this:

34 comments:

Henry said...

That Stuff link is too many clicks.

So here's one: The Name of the Rose. It's literally about books. Not reading them. Not writing them. Just their existence.

Henry said...

One thing that I long ago got tired of was the number of books about academics. It's the curse of our current writing class. Joseph Conrad was a ship captain, for pete's sake. Even the journalists of yesteryear who turned to fiction had more to write about than the academics.

tcrosse said...

I like 'pandemonium' as a counterpoint to 'pantheon'. Our Liberal friends have one of each.

tim in vermont said...

That post reminds me of bouillabaisse.

tim in vermont said...

I got a big kick once out of a movie about father and son college professors who are arguing with each other and use the term “to beg the question” incorrectly! But remember, those characters are college professors and really smart so you should believe everything they tell you because they are college professors and the words came out of their mouths!

Ann Althouse said...

"So here's one: The Name of the Rose. It's literally about books. Not reading them. Not writing them. Just their existence."

I saw but rejected that one because I wasn't familiar enough with it to know whether it's about reading, specifically, so you've confirmed my decision to exclude it. But now that I think about it, I had it confused with "The Da Vinci Code." Is that weird? Obviously, I haven't read either book, but I think "The Name of the Rose" is a more respectable book. Don't know about the movie based on it at all.

traditionalguy said...

A Reading Addiction is a terrible thing and hard to hide from normal people.They can see it in your crazy eyes. It is also a gateway to writing fiction, and everybody knows where that leads.

mccullough said...

The movie The Hours (based on the book) was one of those movies (and books) about reading. Mrs Dalloway.

Portlandmermaid said...

I remember a female character in California Split (1970's) reading Clea by Lawrence Durrell. It added depth to her character that was portrayed as uneducated and naive.

Charlie Currie said...

Princess Bride is about a grandfather reading a book (The Princess Bride) to his sick grandson.

Matthew Sablan said...

"A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?"

-- When speech is violence.

traditionalguy said...

Interestingly, writing books was the talent that made Ginny Churchill's boy, Winston, rich and famous. His political endeavors were a sideline.

Henry said...

The Name of the Rose. Superb book. Good movie.

Rick Turley said...

traditionalguy said...

"Interestingly, writing books was the talent that made Ginny Churchill's boy, Winston, rich and famous. His political endeavors were a sideline."

One of the unexpected pleasures of estate saling with my wife has been the wealth of books of Churchill, Orwell, etc. published in the 1940's and 1950's bought for a couple dollars each.

Henry said...

The crux of The Name of the Rose is that there are pre-Christian books that monks would copy, but were not intended to read. The conflict comes from the question of whether such books should exist at all.

TerriW said...

The Reader.

Bonus points: Holocaust story.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

for the high-action, special-effects HBO movie based on "Fahrenheit 451.

Isn't that Equilibrium? Minus the HBO part, I guess.

Man, remember when Emily Watson was in every other movie you saw?

Oh snap, produced by Harvey Weinstein! Didn't know that.

Mike Sylwester said...

The movie Dirty Dancing begins with a scene where the Houseman family is driving from their Brooklyn home to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. The drive takes about three hours.

The two daughters, Lisa and Baby Houseman are sitting in the car's back seat. Lisa is primping. Baby is reading a textbook, Plight of the Peasant by Gregg Macpherson, and is musing about how she intends to join the Peace Corps after she graduates from college.

After the family has settled into its room at the resort, there is a scene (deleted from the movie but available in the DVD extra features) in the bedroom that the daughters share. On Lisa's bed-side table is a pile of fashion magazines and beauty aids. On Baby's bed-side table is a pile of about ten hardback textbooks.

So, the movie's first scenes portray Baby as a serious reader who intends to spend most of her three-week vacation reading serious books.

As the story develops, however, she spends most of the vacation learning to dance and becoming sexual with her dance teacher. She never is seen reading anything.

During the middle of the movie, there is a scene that features Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. The book is offered to Baby by a pre-med student, Robbie Gould, who has caused the pregnancy of a dance instructor at the resort. Robbie has refused to help pay for an abortion, and he suggests to Baby that the novel will explain his reason. Baby refuses to take the book and read it.

Robbie knows that Baby reads a lot, because he has been dating her sister Lisa and generally associating with the Houseman family. Therefore he expected that Baby might actually read the novel, which is quite long.

In my blog about the movie, I recently wrote a series or articles arguing that Baby suffered from a manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder, Type 2. One indication of the disorder was her taking such a pile of books to read on her vacation.
I pointed out that relationship between her pile of books and her manic-depressive disorder in my article at the following link.

http://dirty-dancing-analysis.blogspot.com/2018/01/eleanor-bergstein-and-sylvia-plath-part_24.html

Unknown said...

I read books, all the time. I read blogs, and newspapers, and magazines too. My self image does not include the concept 'reader of books' and other things. Who does that? Doesn't everyone read. Some, perhaps, more than others.

-sw

traditionalguy said...

Does You've Got Mail count? It is about competing book store owners. Trigger Warning: the man wins it all.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The Name of the Rose is by Umberto Ecco and is a very respectable book. Nothing at all like The Da Vinci Code which is both stupid and poorly written. I won't include any spoilers, but will note that, among other things, it is a murder mystery set in medieval times.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Also, the movie stars Sean Connery and a very young Christian Slater and is excellent.

Hunter said...

I only thought of how Amazon's The Man in the High Castle subverts the whole idea -- whereas in the book the characters are reading and smuggling copies of a book, in the filmed show the characters are watching and smuggling reels of a film.

Hunter said...

And then there's the "Chickenlover" episode of South Park, in which Officer Barbrady is revealed to be illiterate and must learn to read to catch a... well, you know.

Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of s**t, I am never reading again.

mikee said...

Terry Pratchett's book Small Gods involves the destruction of a library by a very severe religious empire. And the reformation of the religion by the last believer in its founding God. Who is a turtle, too. Does that count?

Kelly said...

The Book Thief. About a young German girl who steals a book dispite not being able to read it. Bonus points for stealing a book from a Hitler sponsored book burning.

Howard said...

The princess bride is about how Robin Wright could not possibly be any hotter.

Michael K said...

The Name of the Rose is by Umberto Ecco and is a very respectable book.

Yes, I thought it was better than the movie although the movie is good.

Michael K said...

Joseph Conrad was a ship captain, for pete's sake. Even the journalists of yesteryear who turned to fiction had more to write about than the academics

Arthur Conan Doyle spent months as a ship's doctor and had a background of poverty.

Many popular novelists have had interesting careers.

FIDO said...

The Historian

Phil 3:14 said...

I've seen about half of the films on that "Stuff" list. I've seen "The Never Ending Story Multiple Times" multiple times because my kids loved it when they were little.

prairie wind said...

The Jane Austen Book Club. About a group of women (and one guy) reading and discussing Jane Austen. One of my favorite movies to re-watch. Great cast.

Ann Althouse said...

“I read books, all the time. I read blogs, and newspapers, and magazines too. My self image does not include the concept 'reader of books' and other things. Who does that? Doesn't everyone read. Some, perhaps, more than others.”

It’s used a lot in relation to children. Parents are advised to “raise a reader.” Children are complimented for being a reader.

The idea is that they read books as a favorite avocation. Much pride is expressed, and I think adults feel pride about this pastime and there is a sense of superiority over those who use their spare time consuming fiction in other forms.

Michael K said...

Much pride is expressed, and I think adults feel pride about this pastime and there is a sense of superiority over those who use their spare time consuming fiction in other forms.

I think it is important to get kids reading early and fiction is a good way to start. TV is not a useful form of visual information for children.