HBO's "Fahrenheit 451" Can't Hold A Candle To The Book

HBO's "Fahrenheit 451" Can't Hold A Candle To The Book

Next time, read the book HBO.

Ray Bradbury wrote "Fahrenheit 451" in a time where technology was used for an analog existence. Tools of the trade, using your hands, making something immediate, personal, and close gave people their own sense of independence. It took Bradbury only nine days to write the entirety of his own paperless dystopia on a rented typewriter in the UCLA library. The irony then is just as potent as it is today. People depended on technology to have independence in the world, but new technology is taking away that freedom.

Most readers were introduced to banned books from the required reading lists in middle school. Most of these banned books were science fiction: "1984", "A Clockwork Orange", "Brave New World", "The Handmaid's Tale". The genre is multiplicative, bending the facts to make a social commentary to get to a truth. Having read "Fahrenheit 451" three times, the plot reads as succinctly and detailed as a movie script. The future however holds true to an unfortunate fact: a book cannot be read on the silver screen.

Michael B. Jordan is the enured firefighter Guy Montag and Michael Shannon is his ever sly and stern fire captain, Captain Beatty. The relationship between them remains at an uncomfortable yet curious arms length. The hypocritical yet severe use of poetic language by Beatty (especially in reference to a famous whale; the script for which Bradbury wrote for film) was a nice nod and stays true to the authoritarian novel in this respect. This world of "Fahrenheit 451" has its advances but it is not without its detractions.

It is often better to be in chains than to be free. - Franz Kafka

The plot of burning books to keep society from knowing anything potenitally crippling, harmful, or truthful to remain oblivious but happy is there. A society of people called Natives, a gang called Eels, a digital network called Dark 9 run by a tech hive mind syndicate called the Ministry, a voice-activated equivalent of Siri called Yuxie, and Oculus eye drops are also somehow in the mix. These technologies and the world-building as a result of them felt Orwellian and too much of a contrast from Bradbury's novel. They distract the viewer, who with any luck remains a reader, from getting back to the basics of an analog world. A film about burning books based off a book about burning books is a double irony; "Fahrenheit 451" is a book to be read, not watched. If that is the point, how many people are really reading into this?

Like any book, every page can't make it on screen, but a reference to a page rather than through a scene would be enough to get the idea across. The irony that HBO has thrust onto its viewers is that Hollywood intersperses quick moments of entertaining actions and visuals with a heavy hand, something Ray Bradbury despised with new cinema and television programming and broadcasting. There is no time to be a critical thinker as you witness a film or news reel move faster than you can see it. Images are easier to digest than they are to think of, but the meaning of them will be lost when the expectation is to keep the attention of audiences.

The Eels, the replacement for the book's defunct English professor Faber, a member of the Book People, upload text images, e-books to the Dark 9 or the internet. They are the readers and writers who will not part with self-expression and new perspective. The Natives are a digitally simple society that hate literature or what they call grafitti who use the Dark 9's emoji-like language in place of letters to represent books in a literal and debased sense (a person running, a lightbulb, and a house represents the title and entirety of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse). HBO's adaptation shows a society that is desensitized to spoon-fed information with no context for the "fast facts" which by today's standards is how people read, and read very little of, the brain food they chew.

It is better to be happy than free. - The Bill of Rights

The movie shows a reflection of our current technological times and proves that ignorance is not bliss. The slogans like "Stay Vivid" and "See Something, Say Something" inspire and instill the I-tell-you-to-jump-you-say-how-high mentality. We didn't need Montag to cash in on the presidency however: time to burn for America again? HBO's Montag says they burned every book in America, but he's not afraid to burn a few servers with e-book files on them either. Over kill much? Isn't there a delete key in the future? It's forced clichés like this that make for bad writing, bad screenwriting, and bad social commentary dealing with a theme that reaches farther than politics.

HBO must only watch films because they neglected to read a few pages. Clarisse McClellan is working as a double agent for the firefighters instead of being the elusive, born-in-the-wrong-age free spirit readers know her to be. Granger is now Montag's father instead of another Eel or member of the Book People reading off the grid. Montag's wife Mildred is nonexistent and there is still no Mechanical Hound, two perfect examples of the unhappiness and undesirable fear that ignorance brings. A firetruck tells us the movie also takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, a state away from Bradbury's birthplace of Waukegan, Illinois, which is fair; the novel takes place in an unspecified city.

The wackiest plot point of course is the one that goes unexplained but accepted, the one that makes the plot passable. Science fiction was not made exclusively for wonderful excuses like lasers and teleportation, that is called sci-fi. Ray Bradbury's novel dealt with the dangers of super science, nuclear warfare, and HBO has instead taken Ray's return to nature too literally. If you watch until the last twenty minutes, you'll know the difference between science fiction and a wonderful excuse right away.

The one thing HBO did right was capture the theme of censorship, how we censor ourselves from being more open-minded, and that even when it burns us, we learn from the fire's touch. As Ray put it, without libraries there is no past and no future and "if you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."

Cover Image Credit: HBO

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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