The perks of a bad break up: inspired author writes book and movie

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The perks of a bad break up: inspired author writes book and movie

The Southerner

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BY DIANA POWERS

As the lights brightened and the credits rolled on the screen, the audience welcomed author and screenwriter Stephen Chbosky with thunderous applause during the exclusive screening of the film based off Chbosky’s novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Approximately 600 people attended the movie’s screening on Sept. 25 at the Plaza Theater, which was followed by a question-and-answer session with Chbosky. The story is told through the eyes of Charlie, a freshman, who makes friends with a group of seniors and follows the ups and downs of their shared high school experience. Charlie suffers from anxiety and depression, which causes him to compartmentalize everything, and he struggles to keep the past and present separated.

The audience at the screening ranged from middle to high school students, teachers, parents and young adults who were invited via phone, Facebook and email. Several teenagers who read the novel and enjoyed the film became emotional as they thanked Chbosky for creating a story they said helped them through tough times.

“It is exactly what I thought it would be,” Chbosky said. “I loved the audience and the media response. I wrote this book for audiences like this.”

Grady junior Rachel Klika felt that Chbosky’s strong involvement with the film was important because many of the readers of the book had high expectations for the movie.

“During the question and answer I learned a lot more about his writing process and the story itself,” Klika said. “He was supportive of all the aspiring writers, filmmakers and students in the audience … his genuine interest in the audience made the book and movie even more meaningful.”

Grady sophomore Angelique Dale said that the audience could tell how much the film and movie meant to him, making him “very inspirational.”

Chbosky’s inspiration to write his novel came after a bad breakup when he was 26 years old and needed hope for the future.

“Charlie took the form of that hope,” Chbosky said. “Perks was my answer to why bad things like [a breakup] happen.”

When Chbosky adapted his writing to the screen, he had to leave out several details of the book, mostly due to time restraints. Although the novel contains cigarettes, curse words, drug and alcohol use, Chbosky was able to keep the film rating PG by following the strict codes of what is acceptable.

“You’re only allowed to use one f-word,” he said during the Q & A session. “There was a fight amongst the cast as to who got to say it.”

It was important for Chbosky to keep the film available to all audiences.

“I still included drinking and drugs, because that’s what’s realistic in high school,” Chbosky said. “But not everyone does them, which is also realistic. I left out cigarettes because I didn’t want a kid to relate to a character that smokes and then think it’s cool.”

Klika felt all of the changes made were justified and “didn’t make the movie any less special than the book.”

Chbosky said he felt “completely free” once the movie was completed. He said he is excited to finally focus on being a better father and husband. The messages he hopes the audience will take away from his story is that people usually accept the love they think they deserve, that the moments people create together are infinite and no one ever truly fits in.

“If you’re true to yourself and embrace your own identity, you will eventually be accepted for exactly who you are,” Chbosky said. “I want people to know they are never alone.”

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