By Lois Kennedy
Having grown up watching the 1990 adaptation of ‘It’, I remember it fondly, and having not watched it in a few years, probably as better than it actually is. That said, that movie is perfection itself. I’m not interested in comparing it to the new one, which I’m grudgingly getting excited about. What I’m basing this list on is things from the book that make people squirm.
5. Fat people gorging themselves
Stephen King hates fat people with a passion, for some reason. 99% of his overweight characters are stupid, dirty, lazy, gluttons. ‘It’ features more than one of these. Since this movie focuses only on the characters as children, we don’t have to worry about seeing grownup Eddie’s fat wife (until the next one), but Eddie’s fat mom is a big influence on Eddie’s character. Here’s how she’s described: she weighs four hundred pounds when she dies, and “She had become something nearly monstrous by then–her body had seemed nothing more than boobs and butt and belly, all overtopped by her pasty, perpetually dismayed face.” In one passage, Eddie muses about how she likes to binge eat with her best friend and then becomes flatulent afterwards. Then of course there’s Ben, the fat kid of the Losers. Here’s Ben’s typical lunch: “two PB&J sandwiches, one bologna sandwich, a hardcooked egg (complete with a pinch of salt twisted up in a small piece of waxed paper), two fig-bars, three large chocolate chip cookies, and a Ring-Ding.” Not to mention the candy and chocolate milk he consumes.
4. Richie’s tiresome jokes
Richie is a cute, funny character, what with his impressions that aren’t very good and his silly jokes. However, his humor goes way too far sometimes, when he pretty much can’t even talk in a normal voice. Not only that, but all of his characters are based on stereotypes. Like this scene, when Richie tries to convince his father to give him an advance on his allowance:
“Feel like you’ll probably die in convulsions of disappointment if you don’t get to see those two trashy movies.”
“Yeah, yeah, I would! I know I would! Graaaag!” Richie fell out of his chair and onto the floor, clutching his throat, his tongue sticking out. This was Richie’s admittedly peculiar way of turning on the charm.
“Oh God, Richie, will you please stop it?” his mother asked him […] [Richie’s father asks him where his allowance went]
Richie immediately fell into the voice of Toodles the English Butler. “Why, I spent it, didn’t I , guv’nor? Pip-pip cheerio, and all that rot! My part of the war effort. All got to do our best to beat back the bloody Hun, don’t we? Bit of a–”
“Bit of a pile of bullshit,” Went said amiably.
Or the scene when his friends (who can usually shut him up by saying “Beep beep, Richie”) get so pissed at him that Stan loses his shit:
“Come on now, Stanley!” Richie said in a shrill falsetto. This was another of his Voices: Granny Grunt. When speaking in his Granny Grunt Voice, Richie would hobble around with one fist against the small of his back, and cackle a lot. He still, however, sounded more like Richie Tozier than anyone else.
“Fess up, Stanley, tell your old Granny about the baaaaaad clown and I’ll give you a chocker-chip cookie. You just tell—”
“Shut up!” Stan yelled suddenly, whirling on Richie, who fell back a step or two, astonished. “Just shut up!“
Granted, Stan is more scared and in denial than angry, but still, Richie never knows when to stop.
3. Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty
Since King’s early days of writing he’s gotten more progressive regarding gay characters, but ‘It’ was published in 1986, a long way away from where he stands on gayness now. Adrian Mellon is a victim of Pennywise whom bully teenagers assault because he’s sassy, gay, and proud of it. Don Hagarty is his mourning boyfriend. Both of them are hapless stereotypes whom King portrays as worth pitying but still ridiculous pansies. Adrian is bold to the guys messing with him until they get physical, and then he’s a coward. “Adrian was wheezing with fright, almost crying, looking from Unwin to Dubay to Garton with terrified eyes.” “Adrian Mellon, who stood about five-five and might have weighed a hundred and thirty-five pounds soaking wet, was being pushed from Garton to Dubay to Unwin in a kind of triple play. His body jittered and flopped like the body of a rag doll.” And he also gets tossed off the side of a bridge and chewed on by Pennywise. Here’s Don: “This man–if you want to call him a man–was wearing lipstick and satin pants so tight you could almost read the wrinkles in his cock.” He is also wearing glittery eyeshadow. You may point out that this segment takes place in the present day of the novel, so we wouldn’t need to worry about this until part II, but I would also point out that the movie is modernizing the setting so that the ’80s is the kids’ present day.
2. Racial and ethnic slurs
The segments of the novel that focus on the Losers as kids takes place in 1958. It’s a major deal in that period that one of them is black and one is Jewish. But since the film’s Losers are kids in the ’80s, it’s not such a big deal anymore. Obviously racism existed in the ’80s, same as it does now, but kids weren’t flinging slurs around like there was no tomorrow. Mike being black and Stan being Jewish but friends with five other white kids wasn’t the surprising event in the ’80s that it was in the ’50s, and while the secondary villain bully characters are evil, they can be evil without being racist too. Nobody wants to hear that, and besides, according to IMDB, Jarred Blancard, the actor who played young Henry Bowers in the 1990 film, was really uncomfortable having to use the n-word and apologized to Marlon Taylor (young Mike) repeatedly. These children are being traumatized enough by Bill Skarsgard as it is.
1. The Sewer Orgy
If you haven’t read the book, spoiler alert: after the Losers beat It for the first time, as twelve-year-old children, mind you, they stay in the sewers afterward and Beverly has sex with all six boys. The idea is to cement their friendship, but the whole concept is brutal and disgusting. No quotes for that segment of the book. You’re welcome.
So after September 8th comes, we’ll gather together and watch what is hopefully a masterpiece that outdoes the original (and steers clear of the more cringe-worthy aspects of the book).