I am in no way presenting that being adapted for the screen is a measure of success. I am exploring why someone as beloved, talented, and influential as Octavia Estelle Butler hasn’t been presented on television, or projected 50 feet tall in a movie theater. Here is an excerpt of my explorations:
Here is a brief survey of the current field of science fiction adapted to film. Jules Vern over 140 adaptations. H.G. Wells? Over 80. Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson have over 70 each. Mary Shelley has been adapted close to 60 times. Michael Crichton and Philip K. Dick, both in the 20s. We haven’t even gotten to Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein or the rest of the old guard science fiction canon. What do they have in common? They are all white, and aside from Shelley, they are all male. While these authors aren’t telling the same story, their stories have similar themes, color, and cultural palettes.
A white man has to do battle with a force bigger than himself to save the world. Or a white man has to confront his creation, a creation that has outgrown him and has rebelled against him. Some white men discover something not of their world. And once in a while we may get a person of color sidekick who dies so that the white man can avenge his friend. Repeat this ad infinitum.
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