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The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Why are we scared of adaptations?

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Whitney Veazey

Everyone was talking about “Anyone But You” about a year ago. You know, the Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell romcom that had cheating rumors circulating because their chemistry was just that good. Did you know it was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”? 

“Anyone But You” is far from the first movie to do this — it’s just the most recent. The ‘90s hit “Clueless” is also an adaptation of a classic. Any guesses? It’s Jane Austen’s “Emma” with a beautifully preppy (and wonderfully ‘90s) backdrop. 

To give you a little breakdown of the main players: Cher is Emma, Tai is Harriet and Josh is Mr. Knightley. The funniest thing is that it’s a fairly faithful adaptation. Although, most people don’t know that they’re the same story at first glance because it’s not advertised as an “Emma” adaptation. It’s “Clueless.” 

To show you just how prominent this is, I will rapid fire some other movies you may not know are versions of classics. “She’s The Man” is Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” “10 Things I Hate About You” is Shakespeare’s “Taming Of The Shrew,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice,” “She’s All That” is Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou” is Homer’s “The Odyssey” and “The Lion King” is literally just Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with animals in Africa rather than royals in Denmark. 

Some more out there ones (which are more theory than fact) are the 2004 Spongebob Squarepants Movie being “The Odyssey” and Nickelodeon’s “Barnyard” being a loose adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

I do love the way that people can constantly innovate and adapt a story to fit modern principles and ideals, but why can’t we just admit that’s what we’re doing? I would have watched “Anyone But You” way sooner if I knew it was an adaptation of my favorite Shakespeare play. I love a good romcom. I love Shakespeare. It’s even better when the two combine. The only real indication they give that it’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is in the end credits. I had to wait until the end credits for confirmation! 

Movies and classic literature aren’t the only ones to do this. Film studios are absolutely terrified to admit that something is a movie musical. Like, they will do just about anything but admit that a film they are releasing is just a musical. 

“Mean Girls” is an absolutely amazing 2004 movie. I grew up loving it and quoting nearly every line. You know what “Mean Girls” also is? A really, really good 2018 musical that I fell in love with as a teenager. I was thrilled when I found out the musical was being adapted into a movie. Movie musicals aren’t always my jam — I prefer the stage plays — but I would more than willingly sit through a new version of one of my favorite movies… especially if Renée Rapp was playing Regina George. 

Imagine my surprise when the trailer mentions nothing about being a literal musical outside of Rapp’s delivery of “My name is Regina George…” and a faint allusion to the fact that the 2024 flick is “a new twist” on the original. 

Audiences were blindsided by the fact they were watching a musical instead of a fresh new version of “Mean Girls.” Musicals aren’t for everyone. People should not be forced to watch something they know they won’t like just because a company wants some sweet, sweet box office revenue. 

Two other new movies are also musicals with no marketing mentioning being a musical at all. “The Color Purple” released in late 2023 with an amazing cast that has some serious vocal talent. The trailer does not say a word about music. What it does say is something along the lines of it being “a fresh new take.” Just say what it actually is: a damn good musical. 

I didn’t know “Wonka” was a musical until my boyfriend played Timothée Chalamet’s version of “Pure Imagination.” Okay, fine, “Pure Imagination” is in every version of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” but “Wonka” has more songs! Enough to categorize it as a musical! Their Wikipedia page calls it a musical fantasy because it is. 

Something that really, truly grated on my nerves is this particular quote from Paramount Studios’ president of global marketing Marc Weinstock: “[Mean Girls] is a broad comedy with music. Yes, it could be considered a musical but it appeals to a larger audience.”

Marc, I’m going to level with you here. If it is an adaptation of a Broadway show, it is 100% a musical. It’s like saying an omelet could be considered an egg, but there’s bacon and cheese in it, too, so it’s really just bacon and cheese. 

I would love it if studios started embracing their movies for what they are. Oh, it’s another adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet?” Okay, cool! It’s a movie musical that has a following already due to its stage shows? Sick! You’ve got built in fans. 

There are ways to market films without stripping them of the main parts of their identity. I know that. I just wish studios would catch up.

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About the Contributors
Emma Tanner, Editor-in-Chief
Emma is Editor-in-Chief of the Flor-Ala. She is a senior from Killen, Ala. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and digital media. She was previously Managing Editor for the spring 2023 semester. She also served as News Editor from Jan. 2022 to Dec. 2022. She was previously a volunteer writer. Her favorite topics to cover are profiles and local news. Tanner has written since her childhood and grew a passion for journalism during high school. Aside from working on the Flor-Ala, she was also a research assistant for a psychological study at UNA and served as CASE ambassador president for the Fall 2022 semester.
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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