For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Social Media hiatus, due to my midterms – they went completely awesome by the way – and also because right after exams I was involved in some personal matter that I’ll share in the upcoming post; let’s just say it involves me making a new best friend after 7 years. Big achievement for me! Yay!
Anyway, as soon as I got up to speed to the online world, this news made my jaw drop: Idris Elba is the Frontrunner in portraying the role of Roland Deschain in the Movie-TV Show adaptation of The Dark Tower series written by Stephen King.
Now let me discuss how this issue might affect the book readers and how the non-readers shouldn’t be too quick in judging them wrongly.
- These 7 books were published in a span of 22 years, so they are probably the entire LIFE for some adults and for me they have been my entire teenage. I have finished all seven of these 5 times, EACH. This series was the reason I developed a passion for writing, although I sucked at it but I wrote a LOT of fan-fiction based on Roland and his Ka-Tet. Those were my first projects on serious and focused writing. I also developed a fan-site for TDT, but it bombed. Anyway, at the time when teenagers are going through issues related to puberty, hormones and self-esteem problems at school, for me The Dark Tower series were my life; so I know what being passionate about a particular series feels like. People obsessed about Star Wars, I obsessed about The Dark Tower.
- I NEVER wanted it to be adapted to the big (or small) screen. I know, everything is “sell-able” in this world, but this was the ONE thing I never wanted Mr. King to give away his rights to. I usually love it when any of his work gets picked up by a great studio and they do justice to it, like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me, Carrie, The Dark Half, The Mist and a few more. BUT we also have the examples like the Dreamcatcher, Thinner, Sleepwalkers, Maximum Overdrive, Graveyard Shift. Yikes. So I hope these directors understand how emotional we fans can get when they screw with some work from our favorite authors. Especially when it comes to Mr. King’s magnum opus; The Dark frikkin Tower.
- Another reason for The Dark Tower having problems with adaptation for SO many years (the project got picked up and dropped by numerous directors and studios) is just because… it’s a little too much. Here, we are talking about a world that is more complex, enriching (and horrifying) then the one’s portrayed in Lord of the Rings or The Song of Ice and Fire. This bizarre world was only meant to exist in us readers’ minds! Directors have quit (even J. J. Abrams backed off) because the The Dark Tower Universe was too big for them to handle. Therefore, I have severe doubts with this Nikolaj Arcel person who is only popularly known for his work as a screenwriter on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Now that I’ve made it clear why I hate the idea of these movies and/or show, let’s get to the issue of “race”.
I will watch the shit out of anything with Idris Elba in it. I mean come on, he’s an on-screen LEGEND. But you know I have spent YEARS imagining Roland Deschain to look something like this in my mind.
Or a slightly younger version like this fella here:
And Idris Elba will definitely suit the role, I have no doubt about it. But the issue rises (for us readers) when it comes to the story.
There’s this female lead in TDT Universe, named Odetta (or Susannah), an intelligent, kind-hearted, brave African-American civil rights activist who also seems to have split personality disorder due to an unfortunate accident, and her alternate personality Detta is this… racist, evil, fierce, angry-as-hell woman. In the first few books, we see a LOT of tension between Roland and Susannah/Odetta/Detta, because the Detta part of her hates taking orders from a white “honky mahfas” like Roland. This strain between them in the first books was a HUGE part of the story and now that Idris is in the talks of finalizing his role, that exciting chunk of the books will have to be cut off or drastically changed. Which is hurtful to most readers.
By the way have I told you she’s in a wheelchair in the entire series? Yeah, that woman fights bad guys/creatures and helps Roland save the world on a wheelchair. She’s been my ultimate role model in my teens.
Anyway, I am not hurt or angry about having Idris as Roland, I’m sure there was some wisdom behind that casting decision, and I believe that it will impact the story in a different way, maybe even in a better way (keeping my hopes up) but it won’t be the same as the one us Constant Readers of Mr. King have loved and cherished for so many years.
To the rest of you out there, if you see a LOT of whining and complaining from the readers in the next few years, please don’t judge them as being bitter or racist that they have an issue with a “black” Gunslinger, or a “white” Odetta (if that ever happens), but it’s only because this saga means the WORLD to them (it meant and still means the world to me too), and any decision that might change the way the STORY unfolds, it’s gonna stir up some emotions in us.
I still believe Mr. Elba will be a badass Roland Deschain the Gunslinger.
*Sigh*, please Nicolaj, do this series the justice it deserves.