Hollywood: Where Has All The Creativity Gone?

28 Sep

Hello friends, and welcome back to your work day. I assume that’s why you’re here – trying to escape the drudgery of your boring-ass job by reading some of my brilliant and clever insights to pass the time. I find it entertaining to come up with new and exciting material for your enjoyment day after day; I think it’s my responsibility as a blog writer to be at least somewhat entertaining.

Too bad Hollywood doesn’t share the same work ethic.

hollywood

I know better writers than me have waxed philosophic on the topic of Hollywood’s creative dearth, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I’ve talked about remakes before and the news just keeps getting worse.

This morning one of my correspondents sent me the link to the new Nightmare on Elm Street trailer. Watch it for yourself.

Yep, my original thoughts still stand. “From Michael Bay”…oh boy. Expect a car chase with Fake Freddy at the wheel (sorry Jackie, Robert Englund left some big shoes to fill) and presumably some kind of subplot that involves a lot of propane stacked on top of flammables.

michael bay explosion

But it doesn’t stop there my friends, oh no. As it stands right now, I’ve heard rumours (some corroborated, some not) of an astronomical number of film remakes coming down the pipe in the next three years. Among them are a live-action (doubtless Americanized) version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece “Akira”, a re-envisioning of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” that apparently has nothing to do with the Kristy Swanson original nor the Joss Whedon franchise (who asked for this?), 80s classics “Highlander” and “Escape from New York” (neither of which require a reboot), fucking “Footloose” (hopefully not starring Kevin Bacon), and even John Carpenter’s cult classic “They Live”.

they live

There are literally dozens of these remakes slated between now and 2012 – maybe that year really does signify the end of the world.

armageddon

Now, I’m not a hack, nor do I have aspirations towards stand-up comedy, so I’m not going to make the obvious points about Hollywood being out of ideas, or the movie-going public having the average IQ of a guppy. Realistically we already know this stuff. What bothers me more about this trend is what it says about our ability to be creative in this day and age.

I was reading an article the other day (sorry, no link this time – it was on my old computer and all my bookmarks vanished into the ether when I switched over to Windows 7) that dealt with the potential repercussions of internet culture on brain development. The points the article made were all valid and easily illustrated just by looking around. For example – I was having a conversation with my sister the other day, and we got into an argument about some kind of pop culture minutiae (one of those “who directed what” or “what was so-and-so’s first movie” questions). My brain was just revving up in preparation for a long debate by winding up the old Rolodex of useless knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years, when my sister deftly plunged her hand into her pocket, produced her iPhone, and pulled up a half-dozen websites dealing directly with our question. Turns out I was right (or at least that’s how I choose to remember it), but I was a little disappointed that our argument was cut short by – quite literally – deus ex machina, or for those of us lacking a Classical education, “god out of the machine”.

deus ex machina

The article postulated that access to unlimited information, and the ability to tap into that source from literally anywhere on the planet, negatively affects the portions of our brains dedicated to memory. You see it all the time – when was the last time you had to remember someone’s phone number? If you’ve got a cell phone, which 90% of the population does, you don’t have to bother keeping a list in your head of pertinent numbers: you can just look up the contact in your phone. Same thing goes for all kinds of information: why bother remembering anything when you can just pull it up online?

wikipedia

My question is this: what if the effects of the internet are farther-reaching than just memory? What if it’s affecting our ability to be creative?

Bear with me here, folks, because I’m about to get a little bit tinfoil-hat.

tinfoil hatI’m a writer by trade: the Fixer employs me to write this blog to keep the masses entertained. But if you’re a long-time reader, you’ll notice that all my writing is reactionary: I’m not technically creating anything here; I’m just voicing my opinion on this or that subject through my admittedly magnificent prose. But if the internet didn’t exist…lord, I don’t like to think about how difficult my job would become if I didn’t have the ability to open up my computer and have the world at my fingertips. I’d be reduced to the level of journalistic hacks from yesteryear – jetting all over the world chasing “leads” and “tips” and whatnot, writing my notes in shorthand – by hand – and sending them via fax machine back to my editor at the home office. At that rate I’d be lucky to pump out one article a month let alone per day.

hunter thompson

The reality is the internet has changed the world. In some respects, it’s done so for the better – I can report and comment on issues that, geographically, are nowhere near me as a result of the Associated Press or whoever going cyber. However, I also find myself in something of a holding pattern as a result – I don’t really write an awful lot of “creative” material because there’s so much fodder for reactionary work. Even when I go home at night, I’m more inclined to dick around reading articles on Cracked or work by my favourite bloggers than I am to sit down and write a song or a story. It’s just too easy to poke fun at Kirk Cameron or Billy Corgan – why would I tax my brain trying to come up with something original?

I feel like Hollywood is in the same holding pattern. Why come up with an exciting, challenging new spin on a story when you can just rehash the same tired old cliches over and over again? It’s not just remakes – witness the success of the “Movie” franchise (“Scary Movie”, “Epic Movie”, “Date Movie”, et cetera, ad nauseum) that’s basically just taking existing films and parodying them (badly).

not another movieThe point is, certain franchises deserve a reboot. “Star Trek” was one of the best of these I’ve seen recently; same thing with Chris Nolan’s “Batman” revisitation. But nobody’s asking for “Get Smart 2” or another poorly-done remake of a horror classic like Rob Zombie’s terrible “Halloween” series. And yet that’s all we seem to see. And frankly, I’m tired of it. It’s bad enough I have to pay through the nose to go see a film in a crowded theater full of screaming children, faux-ghetto douchebag teens and mouth-breathing adults. Now I’m going to pay that kind of money and put up with that kind of shit to see a movie I’ve already seen that was typically better the first time around? I don’t fucking think so.

movie theater

Let’s boycott this shit until Hollywood murders all the Michael Bays on their payroll and starts producing films people want to see again. And, for any Hollywoodites reading this blog, before you start up with the lame retorts of “I’d like to see you write a better screenplay” I have two words for you.

Try me.

4 Responses to “Hollywood: Where Has All The Creativity Gone?”

  1. Brent Chittenden September 28, 2009 at 7:16 PM #

    Usually I’m not one to bolster Alex’s argument but here is a list of remakes that are being worked on in active development. This list does not include book remakes or comic book movies or sequels but does include remakes for tv as well.

    The A-Team (currently filming)

    Red Dawn (currently filming)

    V (remade for tv, airing shortly)

    He-Man/Masters of the Universe (active development at Columbia)

    Hellraiser (active development)

    The Kung Fu Kid (Karate Kid remake, currently filming)

    Battlestar Galactica (not connected with the recently remade tv series, being worked on by Bryan Singer)

    Excalibur (active development with Bryan Singer)

    Straw Dogs (currently filming)

    The Stepfather (about to be released)

    Now remake does not have to mean a lack of creativity or a bad movie. John Carpenter’s The Thing for instance is an excellent film and much better then the original. The recent Star Trek film was incredibly well done and respectful…although I guess you could argue about it’s remake status.

    But at the same time, is there really any reason to remake Straw Dogs?

    Or Excalibur for that matter? Can’t Hollywood even come up with a movie about King Arther (which is public domain) without having to remake a film that’s perfectly good in it’s own right?

    And Battlestar Galactica has already had a remake, a good one at that. It’s only been in the ground a year and Hollywood is already boning the corpse for more money. I would have even excepted a film that is attached to the tv series but to do a brand new remake is just retarded.

    And like I said, this is only just a small list. Think about how big it would have been if I included books and comics that are being turned into films or sequels to these remakes and licensed fair?

  2. Shayla September 29, 2009 at 10:25 AM #

    I’ve noticed that people in our generation get pretty offended if you say anything bad about new technology or the Internet, but I definitely agree with you that it’s come with both good and bad. We really need to find a balance between “remix culture” (which can be a great thing) and striving to try to create something new.

    Then again, this is coming from one of the 10% who remembers phone numbers because she doesn’t have a cell phone (I was temporarily on a pay-as-you-go plan, but after months of my sister’s old phone being held together with scotch tape it finally died).

  3. Christina September 29, 2009 at 11:32 AM #

    Great post Alex. It’s such a sham particularly when reboots/remakes aren’t even 20 years old. A remake of Straw Dogs is telling that they’re running out of classics to butcher.

  4. internet tips October 4, 2009 at 1:56 PM #

    yeah they are running out of ideas, now they have to recreate comics and old movies, sad, very sad

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