“…And perhaps most offensive, we’ll get the book’s Big Statement About America, which is bizarrely insulting to Native Americans. Near the end of the novel, a Native American with magical powers named Whiskey Jack tells Shadow he’s not a god, but rather a “culture hero,” because the land we call America “is not a good country for gods.”
“There are creator spirits who found the earth or made it or shit it out, but you think about it: who’s going to worship Coyote?” Whiskey Jack tells Shadow. “[W]e never built churches. We didn’t need to.”
Really? No houses of prayer? How, then, do you account for the Longhouses the Iroquois built for their prayer ceremonies? And no true gods that anyone bothered worshipping? That’s an insane generalization about more than ten thousand years’ worth of spiritual culture across an entire continent.
There’s one other cultural shift since 2001 could trip up the American Godsseries: the oversaturation of flawed, macho male protagonists in cable dramas. Unless the series undergoes a truly radical change in its TV adaptation, we’ll end up with a show about a tough guy struggling with inner conflict, a sexy man fighting his demons and solving problems in a changing world. Snore.
None of this is to say American Gods is a bad novel in terms of storytelling. Despite its datedness, it’s an extremely entertaining read filled with vivid scenes, goose-bump-inducing vignettes, and often-gorgeous prose. Fuller and Green are smart guys, so perhaps they’ll jettison or modify all the stuff that could trip the show up. And Neil Gaiman is no doubt aware that some of what he wrote doesn’t quite work these days; if so, in his role as executive producer, he can offer guidance on correcting the course.
Still, we shouldn’t rush to anoint this upcoming text-to-TV translation as the next mind-blowing thing quite yet until we see whether the source material can work in 2014…”
What do you guys think? Does the series sound promising?
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]
One thought on “Abraham Riesman on “Why Adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for TV Is a Bad Idea””
I understand what you’re saying, but American Gods is still one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors. I would think the creative team would update the story to reflect the change in times. I’m always fearful when a well loved book is turned into a movie or tv series. It can be great or it can crash and burn. Hopefully Neil Gaiman will be taking a big role in the adaptation. I didn’t even know about this so thanks for the great post, and the follow 🙂