This blog is going to be NOT spoiler-free, but honestly even if you haven’t read the book, watched the old film, or the new, does it really matter? Does it???? DOES IT?
I honestly don’t know if you’ve ever read ‘It’ by Stephen King, but if you haven’t I sincerely hope you never do. I had no intentions of ever reading it until this year when I got it in my head that I’d be able to write a more well-rounded blog about the new film if I had read the book. And that’s where my life started going downhill.
‘It’, the 1986 novel (or, brick) by Stephen King is, objectively, the worst book ever written.
I’m sorry. I know we all love Stephen King – hell, I love Stephen King. He’s a white man renegade for the downtrodden, the ignored, and the under-privileged. I’ll even throw him a bone and say he does this as well with ‘It’.
At the forefront it’s a horror novel where there is a killer uh, “clown”, that every so often wakes from its slumber to feast upon kids. After a while however, it also becomes a quite effective discussion about racism, sexism, and even homophobia – topics which I wouldn’t have expected to be discussed in a book from the ‘80s.
So yes, there are some absolutely wonderful things about the book, but I can’t get past the fact that it’s absolutely the worst in almost every single other way.
Now, I know we’re all actually here to read about the new film, so I’ll try and keep this snappy while still giving you context, but here are the main points as to why I think ‘It’ is the worst book ever written.
- It’s 1,300 pages long and you could cut 70% of those out and still have the exact same novel. Like, the exact same.
- It takes over 30% of the book for all of the main characters, AKA the Losers Club to actually all even meet
- There are a large number of strong motifs and concepts that are either never explained or almost done in a throw-away line that doesn’t feel like it justifies the frequency of that motif/concept being mentioned
- Stephen King clearly doesn’t understand how to write women. At all. An eleven-year-old girl whose father beats her and who is being haunted by a murderous clown doesn’t think about her boobs the instance she wakes up – Sorry to tell ya Stephen.
- She also doesn’t feel her nipples harden when she is afraid when all of the boys just feel goosebumps
- She’s eleven for Christ sake stop talking about her boobs!!!
- The clown isn’t even a clown it’s a spider which is also ~The Universe~ and there is also a turtle which is also ~The Universe~ except it dies by puking out a galaxy and choking on it – are you still following? I’m not
- Oh, also it’s almost not at all explained why the spider regularly takes the form of a clown who is called Pennywise but also sometimes Bob Gray but only very occasionally.
- There is legitimately a child orgy that is a 100% serious aspect of the book that is described in detail for an entire chapter
- And it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read.
Yeah it’s that last part that really threw me off the edge.
I’m sorry, but in what world should I have to read about the genitals and sexual acts and the body fluids of eleven year olds IN A SEWER.
It literally doesn’t make sense narratively either. It doesn’t.
I’d like to say, “yeah, so I had to read a really horrible, uncomfortable sex scene between 6 kids, but at least it made sense in terms of the plot development” BUT IT FUCKING DOESN’T. It’s some shoehorned attempt by Beverly (a fictional character) to bring her and her friends back together so they can stay strong and get out of the sewers blah blah blah something minor about friendship in the face of adversary.
To bring the whole group together she must have sex with each individual boy. Even if sex does somehow bring eleven year olds together (why would it), shouldn’t all of the kids have sex with each other, not just Beverly? I know this is horrible, and obviously I much rather advocate for NO CHILD SEX SCENES AT ALL, but shouldn’t the connection be between all of them not just Beverly? I mean, despite her being the only female, there’s really nothing else that makes her important enough to be the vessel through which they all ~become closer~. Unless vaginas + 5 different boys semen = cauldron and potions and some kind of sorcery.
Whatever. It’s fucked up and I wanna know how we’ve all just ignored this for the past 30 years. Why have I never heard anyone mention the child orgy before? The clown almost seems secondary to me.
What pisses me off most about this book is that it could be really good. It could be fucking fantastic. If Stephen King hadn’t messed around with so much other shit.
So anyway, I’ve just spent 700 words on how shit the book is – but what about the new movie? God I hate that I go on these tangents.
This movie is fantastic because it utterly ignores all of the above. ALL of the above. In fact, I’m pretty firmly in the belief that the people who made it never read the book. Oh you sweet summer children I’m so glad you didn’t.
The movie also understands one fundamental thing that Stephen King never has – nor probably ever will.
The reason ‘It’ has become a cult classic is not because it’s written well, or because it has strong motifs, or the characters are so amazing, or anything.
The reason ‘It’ has become a best seller, and garnered not one but two film adaptions within 30 years is this: a clown in the sewers of small towns who eats children is fucking terrifying.
Stephen King doesn’t realise this. Which is why he makes his clown also a spider but also a giant conceptual beast from the macro-verse.
The reason ‘It’ still brings excitement, hype, and cultish interest is because it’s a fucking cool concept – as long as we all ignore all of the other shit that makes it disturbing in a way you don’t actually want horrors to be disturbing.
Yes, the film definitely wasn’t perfect. It had some pretty bad editing at times, some of the kid actors weren’t great (I won’t hold it against the kids, but the actor who played Ben wasn’t quite up for the role, and REALLY not up for the role of stealing the Historian storyline from the one black character). There’s also the fact that it wanted to dwell on kids in underwear, failed to acknowledge the storylines around racism and sexism, and basically glossed over all of the characterisations and relationships between the kids (good and bad).
So yeah, it was your average horror film – but there were some good bits too!
Richie Tozier is a standout for me. Finn Wolfhard proves himself again and again to be leagues ahead of other child actors right now, and his dialogue was written flawlessly. Truly flawlessly.
The clown was fucking terrifying. Bill Skarsgard does a fantastic job, and the fast, manic running forwards and the gruesome eyerolls were a fantastic addition that really could not have been played off as successfully in written form.
The explanation of the ‘floating’ motif was fantastic if only because that is hardly EVER explained or justified in the book, and is at least attempted in the film.
Oh, and there was no fucking child orgy so props for that tbh.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far then you deserve a fucking red balloon because I’ve rambled too long. So tell me your thoughts. What did you think of the film? Have you read the book? Did you like either? Do you think child orgies are A-OK to have to read for 10 pages in extreme detail?
I’d love to know.