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Disappointed Expectations

One of my students is writing an essay on subverted expectations. Interesting how expectations work. My sister-in-law once recommended Catch 22. I'm not much for war books. I love fantasy, science fiction and romance but war books are a bit much for me. Mostly the drama gets in the way of getting to know the characters. So I wasn't expecting much from Catch 22 but funnily enough I loved it. They've just put out a TV series based on the book. I was super excited. Put the date in my diary and waited breathlessly for the day to arrive. Only I was so disappointed. They make out Yoyo as sane. The whole point of the book was you thought he was nuts until the story unfolds and you realise he is the sanest man there.

I know why they did it. Two reasons really. The first is that they think audiences are stupid. I don't believe that but to sell to the broadest viewer you need to spell some things out. It is why you have Paris, France instead of just Paris written at the bottom as the camera zooms towards the Eiffel Tower. Just in case we mistook it for Paris, Texas. So they had to tell the story from the beginning to the end because people would get confused. Never mind the whole point is that war is so confusing that no one should be able to make heads or tails of it. I would have used the missions as a signpost for the passage of time. It would have been difficult but it could have been done without having to spell it out so broadly that I actually feel my IQ dribbling away. I was looking for something would challenge me.

The second reason is the TV series has an agenda. When the book was written it was written as a comment on the insanity of war. Bureaucracy was played up as the anathema of logic. Sane men couldn't stop flying and only crazy men flew but if you asked to be grounded you were sane. I'm not sure what agenda this series is wanting to get across but it isn't the insanity of war. And that just makes me sad. From the first episode it felt more like petty tyrants using that power to make others' lives a misery and not the bureaucracy itself. Okay, this idea is in the books but it is more of another issue in the whole problem of war. Heaven forbid that somehow imply big organisations can be cumbersome or misguided.

I won't watch the rest as I can't watch as they drag the heart out of the story and drag it through the mud. Pun intended.

Back to my student that is writing an essay on subverted expectations. Well, it makes me wonder if this is just something we use to cover up when we make a mistake in our storytelling. Yes, we should surprise our readers but when you kill off the love interest at the end of a story in the name of freshening things up I think we have missed the point of the story. Ah, I bet you are going to say but the author can do that as they are the one telling the story. But that isn't always true. A story is a blend of the reader and the writer. I have beta readers just for this, they can point out to me when I didn't get across the idea I was trying. I either rewrite that section or I change the idea altogether. But the reader always has power in the way a book is read.

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