Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Do Remakes Make us so Angry?

If you are a fan of anything pop culture related I'm willing to bet that at one time something you love has been remade. Now if you are anything like me, I'm going to assume that when you first heard the news about it you were overcome with the uncontrollable desire to choke a bitch. And let's be honest, more often than not there isn't a judge on earth who would have convicted you. Most remakes are maddening. They are unnecessary, dumbed down, and almost always a poor representation of the original work. The whole notion of a remake wreaks of laziness. When creators lack original ideas they stand on the shoulders of giants and "re-imagine" superior works. As upsetting as remakes are, I feel that, for my own health and other people's safety, I have to lighten up a bit. But it's not easy.

The mere mention of a remake drives my crazy. It never fails. Whenever a remake, or a cover in music, is announced my default mood is anger. Yet after the rage settles, and I sweep up all the hair I pulled out of my head, I step back and ask myself why I was so upset in the first place. No matter how many times a particular thing is remade, the original will always still be there for me to enjoy. I can easily go and experience the source material all over again. My memories are intact. My childhood has not been hideously abused. Everything is fine. Right now I can pop The Karate Kid in my DVD player and for an hour and a half forget that Will Smith and his son even exist. It's a beautiful thing. And yet it still bothers. But why?

First, when something is remade you often hear the argument that the people behind it want to expose a product to a new generation. Often times they feel the original is outdated, or needs to be tweaked in order to appeal to contemporary audiences. Sounds reasonable enough, but here's my problem. For most people, the remake will be their first, and possibly only, experience with a particular creative endeavor. If it sucks, and they almost always do, audiences may never understand how wonderful the original material actually is, nor will they take the time to consume it. Imagine if someone's first exposure to Psycho was Gus Van Zant's remake from 1998? If you walked in to a room and said how much you loved the original, most people would dismiss you as a lunatic. They may have been put off so much by the remake that they never even pick up Hitchcock's masterpiece. Instead of turning people towards to the original work, it turns them away. And by the way, if you want to expose a new audience to something, there is no reason you have to remake it to do so. How about you expose them to the original! Just a thought. 

Second, and I know this may be difficult to believe, but many of us geeks feel a certain connection to our favorite pieces of pop culture. We have very fond memories of when we first experienced it. Hell, we have very fond memories of every time we experienced it. Watching certain movies, reading certain books, or listening to certain songs takes us back to a very special place in our lives. Our memories are vivid and in many ways have made us who we are today. We don't just like things. We love them. Unconditionally. When something so near and dear to us is remade we take it personally. We love our favorite things just the way they are, and even though they still exist, we don't want them disturbed by some suit who knows nothing about the product they are tampering with. We have a certain "Go fuck up something else and leave my memories alone" type of approach. (This applies to you too George Lucas!!) When you enjoy something you want to share it with the world so they can enjoy it too, as it was originally intended. Not some bastardized version of it.

Was this necessary?
Finally, I should probably start by saying that I'm not very creative. At least I don't think I am. But the thing is I'm not expected to be. Yet many people are. As fans we rely on these people to create new and interesting things for us to enjoy. Emphasis on the word "new." I'm sick and tired of people re-hashing things I've already seen, and doing it poorly to boot. There is an argument out there, one that I don't support, that says everything that can be done has been done. I know this to be false. I read a lot of comic books, and many of them are creator-owned books from Image Comics. Every month there are a handful of new and unique offerings from a diverse set of creators. It can be done. It's just easier not to. It's easier to remake than it is to create. Easier to follow someone's lead than to be a trailblazer. So instead of hunkering down and trying to come up with next new thing you decide to remake Footloose. No really, I'll take something new. It's cool.

Unfortunately remakes are never going away. It's one of the sad facts of life (tell me you didn't just start humming the Facts of Life theme song), especially if they are successful financially. Though we don't have any control over whether or not remakes happen, we do have control over how we react towards them. For starters, we don't have to watch them. We can ignore and shun them like the fruits of the devil they truly are. But somehow I know most of will watch them anyway. We have to see the train wreck for ourselves. And no matter how bad they are, and how angry we might get, we need to take a step back and focus on the positive. They can never take away our memories, nor can they ever take the original work away from us. It will always be there waiting for us whenever we need it. And knowing that is enough to put me at ease.



CommunionNimrod said...

Some remakes are okay. The most recent good one, for instance, is Fright Night. LOVED that remake. But yes, a lot of them are just like "really?". And I agree with the everything that can be done has been done. Um...take a look at Inception. That was made in 2010 and holy crap. It's a shame that more directors and producers can't take the time to bring out stuff like that instead of re-hashing something. It gets so tiring.

Christopher John (@Christopher2814) said...

There are definitely a few exceptions to the rule about all remakes being terrible. For example, I really enjoy the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Saw it twice in theaters actually. But if I really think about it that may be the only one. At least, the only one I liked enough to remember.

Inception is a great example of something unique. It can be done. People are going to the movies less and less each year. Maybe it's time to start taking some risks to get people excited instead of trying to re-hash what worked before. Movies still take in a nice box office, but that's because of tickets prices. As far as customers per theater, it drops steadily.

djbow2 said...

To add to the rage....the "Short Circuit" reboot just found a writer.

Christopher John (@Christopher2814) said...

How much does everyone want to bet the friggin' robot will be CGI? (I feel that rage coming on again. Have to find my happy place. Breathe.....)

CommunionNimrod said...

I bet he WILL be CGI!! Grrr >:-/

ice princess said...

I am not the biggest fan of remakes. I strongly believe as a society we have dumb ourselves down because everything is easily accessible. We don't have to critically think anymore. Hollywood is a prime example of lazy individuals that would reboot a classic than create one. Where are the creative and independent thinkers of yesterday? Dead.
I LOVE, I REPEAT LOVE, SHORT CIRCUIT! I grew up watching it as a kid and would pop it into my DVD player right this instant. Therefore, I don't need a remake.

Now, with that said, there are a few outdated movies that could benefit from being a remake to resonate its message into the 21st century. For example, The Last Unicorn is a good animation, but I would love to see it as a live action movie like Legend.

Great article, Chris.

Christopher John (@Christopher2814) said...

Think about this: The first Harry Potter flick was released over 10 years ago. How much longer before that shit is remade? To me, the only reason it hasn't already happened is because there were 8 movies and the last one just came out. Otherwise Justin Bieber would be in his 3rd year of Hogwarts by now.

Christopher John (@Christopher2814) said...

@ice princess I generally feel better about animated movies being turned into live action films. I don't know why. It's still a remake, but I guess I look at it more as a new adaptation. Like going from a comic book to a movie. I don't see that as a remake. Just telling the story in a new medium.

Anonymous said...

Reemake hater raising her hand. Very rarely, one will be done well. Mostly, though, they suck, and they suck badly enough that I have no sympathy to the creatively challenged freak at the other end.


Short Circuit?

Guys, my week already sucked. You didn't have to tell me THAT already.

autiej said...

The sad thing to me is that Hollywood has compromised creativity for profits. They are terrified of taking risks. I love that line, "Hollywood is a prime example of lazy individuals that would reboot a classic [rather] than create one." When they slap JAWS, STAR WARS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, or PSYCHO on a modern-day movie poster, they immediately have an audience, whether the regurgitated, CGI, filthed-up crap is any good or not. They know two things about remakes and rehashes, and we prove it to them every time we rent it or buy a ticket or the DVDS: 1) Nostalgic value WILL put people in those theater seats, even if the only similarities are the stolen title and character names and 2) Re-releasing a movie WILL, in many cases, extend the copyright on the characters, ideas, and titles, meaning the new owners or sell-out creators WILL make money off of it for longer. It sickens me as a child of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, that these generations' classics are being shamelessly tampered with. Hey, maybe someone should repaint Mona Lisa in more contemporary clothing, or perhaps we should tear the Sphinx down and rebuild it with more environmentally safe materials and paint it with glow-in-the-dark paint, or perhaps somebody should go in and straighten up those rocks at Stonehenge. We don't, because it would be tampering with a classics, and I don't understand why film is not afforded the same consideration as a representation of a decades' artistic expression. Film and music should be left to age well in their original state, appreciated for their beauty and the fact that the creators did the best they could with what they had at the time. Ugh! I wanna punch George Lucas in the face and knock those Mickey Mouse ears off his head!

Post a Comment

Hello Poppers!