The Perks of Being a Wallﬂower: Context Analysis Paper ! Stephen Chbosky, a 29 year-old ﬁlm director and screenwriter published his ﬁrst semi-autobiographical novel in 1991, The Perks of Being a Wallﬂower. He later directed the movie in 2011 and released it in October 2012. The central theme of the story revolves around the struggle to understand the terrible things that inevitably happen to those we love and to ourselves. It unfolds through a series of letters written by the main character, Charlie, addressed to us, the reader, that detail his painful yet joyous freshman year of high school. Chbosky frames the ﬁlm only loosely in this way, preferring showing over telling — we never see Charlie talking to the camera. The novel has been a “backlist staple for the publisher, consistently selling between 70,000 and 100,000 copies in paper each year through the outlets recorded by Nielsen BookScan” (C.J., 2012). According to Anthony Ziccardi, v-p and deputy publisher of Simon & Schuster, “it has always been a big seller in the college market.” The movie tie-in edition, with the lead actors on the front cover, sells just as frequently as the original. It’s do doubt that the rhetor of Perks of Being a Wallﬂower hit success with his novel, but the movie proves to do the same. ! This striking theme and complex plot of a typical, teen “problem” story doesn’t
dwell on a divorce or accidental pregnancy. This story has “developed a cult following it” as a teen reader responds how it does more, “it reminded me of me and my friends, totally and completely” (Spitz, 1999). The ﬁlm functions similarly. It’s unique yet edgy, which makes it different and relatable at the same time. Even though Chbosky studied ﬁlm speciﬁcally, his ﬁrst novel was a huge success. This single literary work in erotic ﬁction transforms marvelously onto the big screen. I think that his ﬁlm background is
largely to thank for this. Not many writers can direct their own movies. Chbosky’s young age and talent allow him to reach a young adult audience in a way many cannot. I believe that he created this work of rhetoric, the ﬁlm as well as the novel, to portray a stark realness to the story of a coming-of-age 15 year-old boy where so many can relate. ! Mr. Mudd Productions, producers of Juno, sought to hire Chbosky to create the
ﬁlm adaption. The producers of the ﬁlm, John Malkovich, Lianna Halfon, and Russell Smith then hired him to write the adapted screenplay and to direct the ﬁlm. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller starred in the ﬁlm. The production even waited for Emma Watson to ﬁnish with Harry Potter before beginning. The ﬁlm was shot in the Pittsburgh area from May 9, to June 29, 2011 and set in the early 1990s. A few scenes from the characters’ adventures with the The Rocky Horror Picture Show were ﬁlmed at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont. Chbosky had seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show when he was younger in that theater and found out it was reopening, so requested to rent it for ﬁlming (Fischer, 2011). ! Interestingly, the novel was semi-autobiographical. In an interview with Tara
Aquino, Chbosky explains that it was always intended to become a movie and “thought of the title 21 years ago” (Aquino, 2012). Though it was always his plan to write a produce a great narrative, what made him begin writing in the ﬁrst place was initially a bad break up. He needed something to give himself hope. Charlie, the main character, struggled similarly in trying to answer the question of why good people allow themselves to be treated less than what they deserve. Throughout the writing process, Chbosky was able to ﬁnd a better place. The audience is coming-of-age young adults. He was
able to hit his audience perfectly. So many people still come up to him and let him know how much the books helped them in hard times to not feel alone. That reward alone is enough Chbosky claimed and helps him “feel far more connected to people than he ever did” (Aquino,...
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