‘Stone Butch Blues’ Is the Latest Literary Work Adapted Into a Film Against the Author’s Wishes
Even though we previously applauded the idea of a Stone Butch Blues movie, there’s one person who isn’t thrilled — the author, Leslie Feinberg. Though she passed away in 2014, she made her wishes clear in the afterward to the 2013 edition of the seminal 1993 novel. In the afterword to the book’s 20th anniversary edition in 2013, she wrote, “No permissions, no contracts, no commercial use, no derivative use, no digital rights. No adaptations: Don’t tell me you’re honoring me by saying you can tell this story better than I did.” But it looks like someone might be trying a film adaptation nonetheless.
The news of the Stone Butch Blues movie came out when the production company, 11B Productions posted a casting call. As it turns out, no one’s quite sure if 11B has the rights to the novel or not.
Feinberg recovered the rights to her book in 2012 after a long legal battle. Now that she’s passed on, her widow, Minnie Bruce Pratt, controls the rights. However, when Slate attempted to reach out to Pratt, she was unavailable to speak, but directed interested parties to Feinberg’s author note.
This isn’t the first time an author’s objected to a movie being made of their work: Stephen King famously hated Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, and went as far as to make his own version.
Here are five other authors who didn’t want movies made of their work.
1. Gore Vidal — Myra Breckinridge
While many cinephiles think King’s wrong to hate Kubrick’s The Shining, almost everyone agrees with Gore Vidal’s take on his novel Myra Breckinridge. While the satirical novel’s plot — about a gay man who transitions into a trans woman — might read as transphobic today (and certainly kind of gross — at one point Myra Breckinridge rapes another character), at the time it was well-regarded and Vidal named it the favorite of his books.
On the other hand, the movie was a mess. In a 1977 interview, Vidal said the film was an “awful joke.” Vidal also said that he didn’t particularly like any of the film versions of his work, though he considered The Best Man as “the least awful.”
2. Lois Duncan — I Know What You Did Last Summer
Though the film series has eclipsed it in popularity, I Know What You Did Last Summer was originally a 1973 young adult novel by Lois Duncan. And Duncan was not exactly thrilled with what the film did to her story. She’d been completely cut out of the filmmaking process, and had no idea what she was in for until she bought her own movie ticket. She said she was horrified the film had turned her story into a slasher flick.
The decision to turn her psychological suspense novel into a hokey teen slasher was in particularly poor taste when you know about Duncan’s actual real life. She wrote:
Several years ago my own teenage daughter, Kait, had been chased down in her car and shot to death, and I had seen, right in front of my eyes, what real violence is. To have people screaming and laughing about it did not go down well. . . if you’ve known it in real life, then seeing it portrayed like that on the screen is a travesty.
3. Truman Capote — Breakfast at Tiffany’s
When it comes to Blake Edwards’ adaptation, there’s one bit of famously bad casting — mainly, Mickey Rooney’s disgraceful yellow-face character, landlord Mr. Yunioshi. However, while Capote’s biggest complaint about the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the casting, he objected to Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. He wanted Marilyn Monroe for the role, but Monroe’s advisor told her to reject the role.
In addition to being the one person who didn’t want Hepburn in that role, Capote also objected to the film smoothing out the book’s bitterness, describing the movie as ” a mawkish valentine to New York City and Holly and, as a result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly. It bore as much resemblance to my work as the Rockettes do to Ulanova,” a reference to Galína Ulanova, one of Russia’s greatest ballet dancers.
4. Bret Easton Ellis — American Psycho
Openly queer author, raconteur and edgelord Bret Easton Ellis objected to a film version of American Psycho for perhaps the stupidest reasons ever. He blamed the film for removing the ambiguity as to whether or not lead character Patrick Bateman is actually a serial killer. (It doesn’t.)
But worse, he not only objected to the fact that the film was directed by a woman, Mary Harron, but that any films were directed by women at all.
He said, “There’s something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze. We’re watching, and we’re aroused by looking, whereas I don’t think women respond that way to films, just because of how they’re built.”
If we didn’t already like American Psycho, we’d have to give it points for pissing off Ellis.
5. E.B. White — Charlotte’s Web
E.B. White was not really into the idea of any film adaptation of his classic children’s novel. Though he cautiously entered into negotiations with famed animation pioneers John and Faith Hubley. While it sounded like the Hubleys would provide the faithful adaptation White wanted, negotiations fell through.
Hanna-Barbera ended up buying the rights to the story, and added the “songs, jokes, capers [and] episodes” White warned the Hubleys against including. He hated the movie, saying:
The movie of Charlotte’s Web is about what I expected it to be. The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don’t care much for jolly songs. The Blue Hill Fair, which I tried to report faithfully in the book, has become a Disney World, with 76 trombones. But that’s what you get for getting embroiled in Hollywood.
White was so incensed, he and his wife wrote letters to animator Gene Deitch complaining about the film, even though Deitch had nothing to do with the film. When’s the last time you were so angry you complained to someone who wasn’t involved with the situation?