Report: Readers More Affected by Fictional Characters Than We Thought

Photo © Shutterstock

Editor's Note:

A new report out of Durham University has us thinking about the influence of fictional characters in a new way. This and more in today’s Daily Blunt.

Based on interviews with 1,500 readers of fiction, Durham University has concluded that fictional characters make “experiential crossings” into real life, affecting our thinking (and speaking to us) long after we’ve closed the book. This research colludes with other recent studies about the importance of reading literature. As The Guardian observes, “fiction’s ability to let readers participate in lives other than their own is the thing that sets it apart from other art forms.” All this does raise one significant question that every book lover must answer for themselves: As you set about choosing what to read next, will these findings make your decision easier, or harder?

American Girl books have enraptured kids for decades by offering a unique historical perspective through the eyes of young female protagonists, while also offering an accompanying doll for them to play with. The script has been well and duly flipped this week with the announcement of their first ever male character, a fledgling drummer from Nashville named Logan Everett. Twitter thinks he looks like “a hipster who will ghost you,” and Vulture finds comparisons to the “Nashville” TV show impossible to overlook, but remember, at the end of the day it’s all about the kids. American Girl says they’ve been getting requests for a boy doll for many years: “In fact, we know many girls who have created their own boy dolls from our existing lines.”

The WWII drama “Music, War, and Love” is really living up to one third of its title, with director Martha Coolidge and producer Zbigniew Raczynski locked in a bitter court battle over the fate of their movie. The conflicting accounts of how this project blew wildly out of proportion have to be read to be believed – and even then, you still won’t know who to believe. Here’s some informal advice: Start from scratch, and make a third of the movie (which is based on Raczynski’s father’s account of the war) about this bizarre feud.

A similar “can’t look away” catastrophe has befallen the heavily anticipated video game adaptation of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” which enjoyed a successful crowdfunding campaign on the premise alone (described as “‘Fallout: New Vegas’ on acid in Vietnam”), but has since spiraled into chaos. According to this update, insiders claim all that fundraising is now just shoring up the expenses of a failing video game studio, and that no actual game will be forthcoming. The director still swears it will be released by 2020 and cites historical precedent for these kinds of delays: “The one thing I do know … is that Francis Ford Coppola went into the jungle planning to shoot for fourteen weeks — but didn’t come out of the jungle until 500 days later.”