What Major Misconceptions Did You Have About Creative Works?

Because of The Grapes Of Wrath and Of Mice And Men, I guess, I always assumed that John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was a grim expose of conditions in the fish-processing industry. Turned out it was a gentle, sweet-natured book which was mostly about a bunch of bums trying to throw a party for their laid-back mate.

What major misconceptions did you have about a creative work before you’d actually encountered it?

I started reading the Sherlock Holmes canon when I was in seventh grade. I couldn’t wait to read about Moriarty, who I assumed would play a prominent role.

Nope. Professor Moriarty is only mentioned in one story that takes place after his death. He was never meant to be a real character. A. C. Doyle created him for the sole purpose of dispatching Sherlock Holmes. Ah well.

You might get the same misconception about Irene Adler.

I did think that Death of a Salesman would be nothing but heavy, depressing drama. I was surprised that, though that is the ultimate theme, there are many light moments in the play. Similarly, a lot of Waiting for Godot is pure comedy.

To be scrupulously fair, Moriarty is also mentioned in the framing story in “The Valley of Fear.” But he’s just alluded to, an off-scene menace. So, yeah, he was just a plot contrivance for “The Adventure of the Final Problem.”

You might get some enjoyment from “The Napoleon of Crime” by Ben McIntyre, the story of Adam Worth, who was a real life mastermind of crime, and very likely the person upon whom Moriarty was modeled.

ETA: Over in Great Debates, in the “My Christianity” thread, I learned how wrong I was about C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce.” I had read it a bit wrongly!

I always thought that the government was suppressing (by burning) books in Fahrenheit 451 because they were eeevul, like Big Brother in 1984. I was really surprised to find that they were doing it with good intentions. To protect the populace from dangerous or hurtful ideas. Didn’t make it right, of course, but they weren’t as bad as I had thought.

Fight Club (movie, only recently learned it was based on a novel).

The trailer didn’t give much of anything away (or maybe I just missed it), but it just looked like a bunch of guys fighting in dingy basements.


Caught it later on cable and really enjoyed it.

Isn’t that pretty much why anyone burns books?

I never watched the movie Gone With the Wind because it was all about Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara and her ultimately doomed love for the dashing Rhett Butler.

I finally relented when we decided to start watching the AFI Top 100 films, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. Boy, was I wrong…while those elements are undeniably *in *the movie, there’s ***so ***much more to it.

Wuthering Heights - I had heard the title of the book, and I think I had heard the Kate Bush song, but I always had it in my head that this was just some hoity-toity Harlequin romance novel about love triumphing over all obstacles that would no doubt end with a marriage and a wonderful ‘happily ever after.’ In fact, to some extent that is what happens in “Jane Eyre.” (written by Emily’s sister Charlotte.)

Instead it’s a really dark, and actually very twisted tale about two very monstrous people who do horrible things to each other, and to the innocent people around them. Basically the message of the novel is that “romance” is a lie that ruins peoples lives. This book in fact is the antithesis of the standard ‘soul mates torn apart’ soap opera type romance I took it for.

Jane Eyre isn’t exactly a “wonderful happily ever after”, either, though: Edward Rochester ends up blind and half-crippled after the mad wife he’d kept locked in the attic burns the house down, killing herself in the process; Jane does marry him, but he’s damaged goods.

Alien. I thought it was just another stupid horror movie only the monster was in SPAAAACE! No interest whatsoever, didn’t watch it for years.

Then I cuaght it on cable one night. Turned out it was topnotch, well thought out science fiction movie that had a strong horror element, but it really wasn’t just about a nasty looking alien repeatedly jumping out and eating people.

The Simpsons – thought it was a crass, vulgar cartoon show celebrating American stupidity in a stupid way, based on the promos. Plus, it was on Fox. Didn’t watch it for years. Finally caught the “Bart the Daredevil” episode and wound up laughing uncontrollably through much of it. Turned out it was a brilliant little lampoon of American culture, with some episodes featuring some of the blackest black humor ever made (“the Man who Had to Struggle for Everything”).

Aren’t you like 35? Did you really walk around berating The Simpsons as some “crass, vulgar cartoon show” at age 11?

The Simpsons has been on for so long that he could have walked around berating it as crass when he was 25 and still not watched it for years before changing his mind.

Huh? I’m saying I believe he’s too young to have those kinds of opinion about The Simpsons when it first started. If he’s in his early 50s now, you’re right, it makes total sense. But if he’s in his mid 30s, he would have been under 10 (or just slightly over) when The Simpsons began. And no 10 year old boy thinks like that.

Let’s see. I thought “On the Beach” was going to be an Avalon-Funicello like movie when it started up.

I caught “Miracle Mile” about 12 minutes in without having any idea what it was about. Given the leads, I assumed it was a Rom-Com. Needless to say my feeling of “This isn’t really happening, is it?” exactly matched that of the characters in the movie.

Interesting. I suppose it all depends on if you actually believe that. Of course the government can claim that’s the reason, but from the first time I read it, I always felt that the “dangerous” ideas they wanted to prevent were obviously those that were dangerous to the government itself and its total control. It made that government even more horrifying, IMO.

If you get a chance, have a look at It! The Terror from Beyond Space, the movie from which the bulk of Alien’s plot was ripped. It looks dated now, but it was definitely a superior entry in the 1950s movie derby. Written by Jerome Bixby, who also gave us the creepy story It’s a GOOD Life, upon which the Twilight Zone episode was based, and who rewrote the script for Fantastic Voyage. He also wrote three of the original Star Trek episodes, an unjustly forgotten other 1950s SF movie, The Lost Missile, and a justly forgotten one, the Curse of the Faceless Man. Also a lot of SF short stories.

“Ordinary People” (1980). I thought it was some dreary drama about a family that just sat around all depressed because of the death of one of the children. About five years ago, I thought I’d give it a shot. Wasn’t what I expected, and I actually enjoyed it.

The only thing that took me out of that story was the fact that they had gas bombs and a fucking BAZOOKA on a SPACE SHIP. And they FIRED that bazooka inside a fucking spaceship. Man, that ship’s hull must have been pretty damn tough.

I think you’re misremembering. They didn’t have a bazooka on the ship, but they had guns and grenades. Grenades!
After seeing that, I didn’t have the energy to complain about them smoking on a ship with a limited air supply.