Stephen King once said in an interview, and I paraphrase here, “literature is a superior artform.” This was in regards to his books being turned into movies. He wasn’t all too concerned about the accuracy of on screen adaptations to his works, because, for him at least, a film could never be as good.
I thought about this a lot, particularly because the people in my social circle—my friends, my family, my coworkers—DO NOT read. Sure, my kids enjoy a good book if it’s required by school, and I drag them weekly to the bookstore to peruse the latest releases. But reading for them is homework, with an emphasis on the “work.” They will never, of their own volition, ask to read something. Not when there’s Instagram and Tiktok to steal their attentions. A comic based on an anime, maybe, but a full-length novel? Never. My nephews are the same way. They’ll spend hundreds of hours hunting every damn trophy in some MMORPG, but asking them to read is like asking them to volunteer for torture. It’s a really sad state of affairs and makes me worry about the future of writing in this country. Maybe this is why we have so many anti-vaxxers and Flat Earthers, because everyone is getting their information from YouTube instead of the science section at their local library. Maybe we are all headed for an Idiocracy-style world.
That being said, reading Stephen King’s It really helped me challenge this notion. Yes, it takes a lot more work to get through a 1200 page story, but the rewards are more than worth the effort. Comparing It the book to It the movie directly, it’s easy to see why literature is the superior artform. There is just so much more that can be communicated through the written word—a world of thoughts and emotions, of tactile sensations—that visual media simply fails to deliver.
Want to know more? Check out the Story Matters Podcast below (also available on Spotify!) where me and my co-host, Heather, share our thoughts regarding Stephen King’s crowning achievement.