By Charlotte Kim
Amazon’s heavily-advertised and promoted web series, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han has readers claiming it is very different than Han’s book series that came out in 2011, despite Han being involved as a producer.
Fundamentally Different Characters in RACE
On the original covers of the book series, a white girl graced the covers. In the web series, the main character, Belly, is Korean. Her mother is also Korean. Yet, there is nothing in the entire series that indicated Belly and her mother as having a Korean heritage. The Asian community find the lack of representation in the book series about a supposedly Korean girl concerning since it shows a white-depicted Asian girl then in the series. Yet the web series’ Asian characters appeared devoid of Asian heritage. In the Asian community, this shows a white-washed Asian.
“The girl who plays the main character who is Korean American is not Korean,” Janet Jung said. “She should be Korean if she is playing Korean American like her mother. How come she is a different ethnicity? They think all Asians look alike. Koreans are Japanese. Chinese are Koreans. This hurts Asians with stereotypes. This is not celebrating the different Asian cultures of America. Jenny Han does not represent all Asians.”
“If Belly is written as Caucasian in the books, she should be,” Angela Lee said. “Readers expected the main character to be what they pictured. They bought her books for that, so now the author is saying to screw what her readers think.”
Fundamentally Different Characters in Sexual Orientation
One big difference from the teen series which is marketed as clean and wholesome teenage book reading is that one of the main characters who is Belly’s love interest, Conrad, is bisexual when he was originally written as heterosexual.
“This is so fundamentally different than the character I read in Jenny Han’s book series. Just because she is okay with turning one of the main love interest into a different sexual orientation than he was first depicted thinking it would sell me, doesn’t mean it is okay with her readers. The web series on Amazon is now a different book,” Ashley Gonzalez said.
Fundamentally Different Audience – From Clean Teen Books to Sexualized, Drug Use and Adult Language Amazon Prime Original Series That Should Be Rated Mature
“It is like Jenny Han is trying to make her book series into another book series for an older audience,” Kamala Rose said. “The Summer I Turned Pretty was a book for younger teens and didn’t have sex in it or adult language. In Amazon Prime’s web series, there was sexual content, drug use, and tons of adult language. That should give it a TV-MA rating. Instead, they are marketing this mature series to kids. That’s not okay, Amazon.”
The Summer I Turned Pretty Series released at a time when Amazon faces criticism for mistreating their own KDP authors and vendors. The Amazon Prime Series, based on a book series published through a legacy publisher, further fuels the argument that Amazon favors outside and third party vendors over their own. Owning the largest television and film review site called IMDB also affects how Amazon Prime Originals are rated. Amazon also owns the largest book review site called Goodreads which affects how Amazon’s own books are rated. “There is clearly a conflict of interest in owning the reviewing entity and the store, production company, and publishing company,” Brian Johnson , an author and an attorney said. “Amazon has an unfair advantage and a dominance over the information they control. Here in The Summer I Turned Pretty, it is like a bait and switch. It is based on a series for a younger audience known for being wholesome and clean to being sexualized. In other words, no longer clean and wholesome. That can be misleading.” Yet Amazon would never take their own product off, but wouldn’t blink an eye to quickly remove other authors or vendors works without much or any explanation.”
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