“In the original story…”

One of the most common criticisms/logical fallacies in response to a re-telling, or the latest story in a well known mythology, is the concept of the original story.

For example, Twilight. The vampires sparkle, which set off an endless string of tweets, memes, forum and blog posts about how vampires don’t sparkle. Some also made the claim that “In the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires couldn’t even walk in the sun.”

Fans of vampire lore like to throw Bram Stoker around to show their literary maturity. But then they truck out a line like that and it’s obvious they’ve never actually read the book. This was the case in a recent discussion about Emerald City; the latest in a long line of re-tellings of The Wizard Of Oz.

There were a number of characters and concepts in Emerald City that one commenter said they didn’t remember from the original story. I asked if they were referring to the book or the movie, to which another commenter said something to the effect of, “Doesn’t matter.”

It does matter though. Because the movie took great liberties with the story in an effort to give Judy Garland a vehicle and sell tickets. It wasn’t concerned with the symbolism and hidden allegories prevalent in the original Frank Baum novel. I have to admit that I’ve never read the books (yet) but that I know of the symbolism because my 11th grade history teacher told us about it. He handed us a glossary of all of the story elements of The Wizard of Oz, which included things like the Silver Slippers, the Gold Brick Road, how the Witch of the West represented the dust bowl and the flying monkeys were slaves, etc.

And to be clear, the writers for Emerald City probably added a few of their own twists and turns, which is acceptable. Making a story your own as much as possible is what keeps it from being badly written fan fiction. But if you’re going to cite the original story as a reason for not liking or not understanding an element in the new version, you have to be clear on what the original story actually was.

One thought on ““In the original story…”

  1. Great points. I would also argue that a retelling is supposed to be different to the original. It should maintain a certain core of the story, but you’d expect other elements to be added or removed in order to say something new. People on the web are weird. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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