The Book Series With The Irresistible Name
December 21, 2011 14 Comments
So, as dictated by the U.S. Constitution, it’s time to remake, practically shot for shot, yet another gray/dreary Scandinavian hit movie in the English language only like a few years after it was just made (just as they did with Insomnia and Let The Right One In), and that means we’re going to start getting those The Girl With movies. Are you excited yet? Of course you are! Because she’s The Girl with something. She is short and has short black hair and does stuff with computers and oh my gosh it’s just all so inherently fascinating that I’d like to read a trilogy about her and then watch two trilogy movies about her, one in Swedish and the other in English. Should only take like 30 hours of my life all-in, tops. Totally worth it.
I came to this topic idly web-browsing and coming across this review of one of the dang books or another, which informed me that the original title of the first one was ‘Men Who Hate Women’. This brings me to my name theory.
What is my name theory? Simply, that something’s name played an outsized and unrecognized role in its popularity. Applied here, the answer to the critic’s impassioned pleas as to why did these books catch on so much becomes:
Because they were called “The Girl [with something/who did something]“. They would have never caught on if the first one had kepts its original title. Same exact plot/words, but no “The Girl With” in the title, and you do not have a hit.
The name theory applies elsewhere too. Why did ‘Sheryl Crow’ become a star? Don’t get me wrong, her voice and looks are, like, okay, but there’s a zillion people who sing just as well as her and don’t become stars. They aren’t named ‘Sheryl Crow’ though. People liked the idea of listening to music by someone named ‘Sheryl Crow’. They liked the idea of being the kind of person who listens to music by someone named ‘Sheryl Crow’
Or to name a more obvious comparable, how about ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Dan Brown’s highly stupid, warmed-over version of the ’80s-era Baigent/Leigh conspiracy theory is both bizarrely childish to read, and actually manages to be a 10x less interesting than the version that had been used for the computer game Gabriel Knight 3 four years earlier. So why did it catch on? Because it was called ‘The Da Vinci Code’, allowing readers to fancy it had something to do with Da Vinci and art/culture, making it cultural to read it.
If you’re writing a book or other creating endeavor, pay attention to what you call it. It really matters.