This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leave Salinger Alone, Hollywood. Thanks.

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 11:46 AM

tenenbaums.jpg

Despite the fact that Salinger's corpse is still warm, one can already pick up on the creepy-ass sensations—currently emanating from both Hollywood and Sundance—of studios champing at the bit to turn the guy's books into movies. That idea is—how should I put this?—really fucking depressing.

I don't know who now holds the rights to Salinger's work—his son, maybe?—but Hollywood has wanted to make Salinger's books into films for, you know, decades. (Reminder: There's a reason Salinger didn't want any of his stuff made into movies.) Regardless of legal rights, there's no getting around the fact that a pretty big obstacle to Hollywood adaptations of Salinger's works—Salinger himself—is no longer part of the equation.

I like movies as much as anyone—shit, I like them more than most people—and while I don't write in the Mercury about Franny and Zooey as often as I write about film, I feel the same way about Salinger's work. If you'll allow me to get self-righteous and grumpy for a moment, as if that's not how I spend the majority of my time anyway:

If anyone honestly thinks we're ever going to get a single Salinger-esque movie that's even half as good as The Royal Tenenbaums, they're either (A) delusional, or (B) so opposed to reading that they'd rather just see Seymour blow out his brains at the end of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" rather than, you know, read it. The last thing I want to see onscreen is are the Glasses or Holden Caulfield, for the simple fact that this shit would be impossible to get right: Salinger's works are some of the few utterly perfect pieces of writing out there. They are stories that—no matter how skilled a filmmaker, nor how good their intentions—will inevitably suffer if adapted to a different medium. (And the odds for a worthwhile Salinger film drop even further as soon as you remember that oh, yeah, this is Hollywood, which means Zac Efron's agent has probably already gotten a phone call regarding a fast-tracked drama about a charming, rebellious kid who's bound and determined to have a crazy weekend in New York City.)

That said, if it turns out that McG wants to adapt some of Salinger's Terminator fan fiction, I will obviously be the first person in line.

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