Monday, December 30, 2013

Creativity and Originality: The Dying Duo {Part 1 of 4}

The human brain has an infinite capacity to create. So, the question has to be asked, why aren't we creating as much as we used to, and if we are "creating" why aren't we coming up with anything original? Not to say that absolutely nothing original is being created, because it is, there just doesn't seem to be very much of it.

Before I dive right in, let me explain something. I have a lot of opinions and thoughts on this whole creativity thing so rather than make you all read one really long post I am going to do a series of post over the next couple of weeks examining creativity and originality, why it's disappearing, and how we can get it back.


Let's start with Hollywood. I came across this lovely info graphic that confirmed my fears, and while it only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Hollywood's lack of originality and creative values, it gives us an idea of just how quickly the creativity and originality has leaked out of the Hollywood Hills and simply run off into the ocean.
Hollywood's Waning Creativity - We also lament the lack of originality coming out of Hollywood these days.
If anything can be learned from these stats, it's that we have become increasingly comfortable with what we already know when it comes to our entertainment. And what's even worse, we are completely okay with and even support it. Do you guys know what this means?! At the rate we're going we are going to be forced to watch crappy sequels and remakes FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!! Let's just take a moment to let that soak in. You will be watching crappy sequels to that one okay-ish movie you saw that one summer for the next 6 to 7 years. THEN just when you think it's over and you have moved on to something better (like reading books) some really awesome Hollywood producer is going to get some bright idea to remake that same okay-ish original movie that you saw that one summer AND all of it's sequels! What a horrifying world we are creating for ourselves.

In my opinion, the second worst thing you can do to an amazing movie, is give it a sequel. I feel this way for 3 main reasons:

First, if you have an amazing movie to begin with then your sequel had better be even more amazing than the original, because that is what it is being compared to. Rarely, if ever, does a sequel live up to it's predecessor, let alone do better.

Second, the sequel in which a main character from the first movie is played by a different actor in the second movie. Thaaaat's right, I'm looking at you Iron Man 2!

This is not the same person...

And third (the worst one) the sequel of the explain my frustration, a letter to Jerry Bruckheimer...

Dear Jerry,

You brought us soaking wet Orlando Bloom, some pretty good C.G.I. technology and you made a great pirate movie that hadn't really ever been done before that was original and creative. Good job, gold star. But really, I'm begging you, STOP BEATING THE DEAD HORSE! Four movies? Four of them? Was it really necessary? Wait. Let me answer that one for you. NO IT WAS NOT! I mean sure you made some money off of them and they added a ride for you at Disney Land...oh wait... That ride was built in 1967! So really you just made a bunch of money that you could have invested in new movies and projects (of which there are plenty out there) but instead you were lazy and just added a different subtitle to the first film and sold us tickets making us think it was a different movie, when it really wasn't. And honestly, one can only go so far in a franchise before it becomes incredibly predictable and boring, you my dear friend have simply gone too far.

Now I am not going to complain to you without presenting a solution, so here it is. How about this? The next time you come up with another "Pirates of the Caribbean *insert subtitle here that explains while this one is different than the other four (except not really)*" you ditch everything and do something NEW AND CREATIVE! Crazy idea, I know, but I have faith in you.


Obviously new movies are being made and presented to us, but if all we put our money into is the sequels and remakes then eventually, that is all we will have!

There are some extremely rare exceptions. Harry Potter being one of them. But the reason it's okay is because it stemmed from original creativity of epic proportions that 99.99% of people really do love and enjoy. Harry Potter is called a phenomenon for a reason. Things like Harry Potter just don't happen and the fact that it did happen once is a big deal, so the fact that we make a big deal about it and turned it into 8 movies is just an expansion of an idea we all relate to and enjoy.

So if giving a movie a sequel (or sequels) is the second worst thing you can do to it, what's the very worst that can be done? It's the remake of course! Constantly insulting the original work while simultaneously causing its own downfall by not living up to the original, it is the sad fate of remakes everywhere. Given, some remakes are actually okay (and sometimes, but rarely, better) compared to the originals. Its a task hard to accomplish and few ever do. Those movies that have successfully been remade, in my opinion, include, and are not limited to, The Italian Job, Hairspray, and Father of the Bride. Although remakes and the quality there of is largely a matter of opinion, there is one overall fact that stands true. Remakes come about because those who create them have simply run out of ideas, they can't come up with anything original (or if they have come up with an original idea they didn't think up anything better than a possible remake..), so they recycle.

I cannot think of a better example of a bad remake than the recent The Sound of Music, Live!. I actually have a hard time talking about it, it really bothers me. Now, granted, it was a live T.V. reproduction of the Broadway version of the original 1965 movie, and that is no easy thing to do! I commend Neil Meron and Craig Zadan (two of the greatest Broadway to Movie producers of all time) for even daring to attempt such a project. They are the reason those of us who don't live near Broadway can still experience good musicals from the comfort of our own homes and that's an amazing thing. But when you do something like taking a musical to film, it's different. It was never a film to begin with and the audience understands that there will be slight differences. With The Sound of Music Live! you are going from a movie to a Broadway show to a sort of hybrid of the are sort of asking for a disaster. It would have been one thing if they had done the musical on a Broadway stage and simply filmed it and broadcast it live. I think that would have been a great success. But because they did it on a sound stage everything seemed more jumbled and confused. Of course it has to be noted that The Sound of Music Live! is a live reproduction of the musical and not the movie, and the original two have their own differences that those who have not seen both would not know about. But I think it's important to still maintain the original story line and order of things. Particularly the songs. What a jumbled, reorganized mess! I can't even. Too much went wrong.

Here in lies the problem with remakes. So much can go wrong. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." When you remake a movie you are almost lying. It's as if you're saying, "Here! Look at this cool thing I re-did even though the original thing was just fine as it was." You're selling another persons creativity and ideas, just a more current version. That's stupid, that's cheating, and that's not original or creative.

So welcome to the world we now live in! Original and Creative ideas being passed up for the remakes and sequels. Of course there are plenty of original works coming out every year that are amazing. Just the last 6 months have produced some amazing films. But we have to ask ourselves some questions: How many more sequels can we watch? How many times can something be redone and remade? How long can we last in a Hollywood culture that doesn't encourage mass originality and creativity, and does encourage our movie ticket prices to rise so that they can keep on not creating original works? Would they be able to charge less if original, creative works came out more often and were more widely marketed?

I suppose only time will tell.

Thanks for reading and comment below what you think! Is Hollywood lacking in creativity and originality, why?

Happy New Year!


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