Language as a tool to create culture

By Crișan Mircea

When you read a book, the way the story is written, how the text unwraps itself before you, is more important than it would be if you watched a movie adaptation of the same book, because a story is modified and adapted for the transition to video by a screenwriter before becoming a film. This, of course, alters the original flow of the story, adding some of the screenwriter’s writing style to it.
The way the author expresses what he or she is trying to transmit is essential to keep the readers invested in the reading. For instance, I gave up on a lot of Jules Verne novels that might have turned interesting later, only because the author chose to start them with long descriptions that, according to me at the time, were boring. Looking back at them now, I realize that as boring as they are, those descriptions are useful to the story and that Jules Verne was a meticulous writer with a lot of attention to detail. Words and the way they are used can tell a story beyond the one laid on paper by the author. This is what Ben Blatt, writer for slate.com, had in mind when he made his textual analysis on “The Hunger Games” series, in comparison with Twilight.
Blatt’s analysis reveals that the adjectives used by Suzanne Collins in the “Hunger Games” series reveal that the story is a “technical dystopia” and that it relies on detailed descriptions of the action, while “Twilight” is about emotion. While Collins mostly uses adjectives to describe processes, Stephenie Meyer uses them to describe people.
At sentence level, one can notice that in “Twilight” the most common phrases used by the author are short and related to characters’ emotional reactions. On the other hand, “Hunger Games” relies on declarative sentences that, according to Blatt, are used to give readers “spare descriptions of the action”.
All things considered, each author’s use of language reflects what they are trying to convey through the pages of their books. Suzanne Collins’ books are about survival and fighting back against a tyrannical regime, and the plot is revealed in first person perspective through the eyes of a character that goes through the traditional hero’s trials, enduring and perseverating, though, considering the conclusion of the series, she doesn’t really get the classic happy ending. I’m not going to spoil the ending of the third book and fourth movie (as I was saying screenwriters adapt the story and sometimes cut it in two or three parts in order to milk the money cow as much as possible) by trying to explain this, but, if this blog still exists after that movie comes out, I’ll tell you why I think Katniss Everdeen fails as a hero.
In contrast, Stephenie Meyer’s books are about a girl that falls in love with a vampire and, basically, all four novels explore the issues risen by this. To be honest, there are a couple of words that I think can describe this series very well, but they’re not fit for an academic paper, so I’ll just conclude by saying that the author tries to show the characters’ feelings and their struggles to carry on their impossible love.
To conclude, despite the differences between the two series, both have a main character that the readers follow and try to identify with. The common point between them is the fact that, through the first person perspective, the reader basically knows the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings and experiences the story as he or she was one and the same with Katniss or Bella.
Language can be used to create culture. Even a culture that circles around two series of books, later turned into movies. Each series has its fans, most likely of the same age group, and while “Twilight” is more appealing to female audiences, “The Hunger Games” is fit for both male and female readers.
The movies have an even greater impact. For instance, there are countless males who were forced to watch “Twilight” with their girlfriends. This statement, no matter if it’s true or not, has become some sort of a stereotype. There are a lot of boys who use this excuse to watch the movies, as watching “Twilight” (as a guy) has become something you’d be ashamed to admit. And there you go. Because the books are about love and explore feelings they are suddenly catalogued by society as strictly for female readers – the movies also fall into this category – and male audiences, even if some of them might enjoy the books/movies (tastes are not up for debate), have to find an excuse to actually read/watch them.

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