If the first major creative choice in your latest entry in a franchise irritates and alienates every fan of that property, maybe you might want to rethink things.
Consider this a warning: if you read any further, there’s a good chance you’re going to have the new book about Bridget Jones totally ruined for yourself, as well as elements of “Dumb and Dumber To,” last night’s “Breaking Bad,” and other things as well. It may be too late, since most of the headlines I’ve seen today have almost gleefully given it away, but I’d rather give you the choice about whether or not you want to know right now. It seems like more and more often now, the assumption is that you have no right whatsoever to expect that you will remain unspoiled after the split-second something airs, and it seems like even before that now, we’re just going to have accept that we have no control over how we digest a narrative.
For example, I mentioned “Dumb and Dumber To,” and last week, “The Hollywood Reporter” published a short news story that was a solid get in terms of reporting, but it was presented in a perfectly rotten way. There are evidently plenty of cameos in the new film, and THR decided to give away the cameo in the actual headline, even mentioning it as a “surprise.” I work hard not to ruin things for people, like when I ran a report about someone making a special appearance in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.” I know there will be other outlets that give it away, but I’d still like to try to give you an option.
I’ve screwed up, certainly, as has anyone who does this for a living, but the point is to try to understand how your audience might react. Maybe if you’re an “Entertainment Weekly” fan, you want to see someone type every single beat of the “Breaking Bad” finale in their Twitter feed. I can’t imagine why, especially without any analysis or context, but let’s pretend that’s what you want. I find that sort of instant reaction pointless, especially when you’re talking about a cultural moment like last night. Isn’t the fun having the conversation afterwards instead of splitting your focus during the actual event?
All of this is a way of setting out a context for the news that seemed to rattle “Bridget Jones” fans this morning. Over the weekend, the Sunday Times ran an excerpt from the new Helen Fielding book, “Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy,” and the information in just that excerpt was enough to totally freak out the fans. Evidently, Mark Darcy, the man who Bridget spent the first two books/films chasing, has now been dead for five years, and Bridget is a 51-year-old single mother raising Mabel and Billy, their two kids, all by herself.
Mark Darcy is such an integral part of the books that I’m baffled Fielding would not only write him out but would do it before the opening of the new story. Working Title has been desperate to get a new film into production, so one could easily assume that when the book is released in a few weeks, it will give readers a solid glimpse at what they can expect from the eventual movie. And if that means no Colin Firth, that’s going to be a bitter pill for fans to swallow.
We’ll see, but for now, it’s safe to say Fielding is risking everything with that choice. Here’s hoping it pays off creatively.