Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the past ten years, you’d notice that there seems to be a major trend of churning out the same things in entertainment over and over again. In Hollywood, it’s mostly horror movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and Halloween. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a particular thorn in my side because I think he did a fairly awful job with his version, but the other two are arguably superior to their respective originals (at least by today’s standards).
Not to be outdone, westerns like 3:10 to Yuma are also getting a makeover. The new one stars Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, two of my favorite actors, so I definitely can’t complain there. Besides, some critics are even suggesting that it’ll get some Oscar nods.
And it’s not just remakes that are trendy in Hollywood, it’s sequel-mania! So basically, if we can’t re-tell the story, we have to add what happens next. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes not. I must admit, I’m a typical slave to the well-marketed sequels of superhero movies like Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and Batman Begins. Indeed, even the anticipation for the seemingly long-awaited Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, is killing me. But on the other hand, I really don’t think that the sequels to The Matrix or Blade were all that good. Some stories are better left untold.
In television, if you think that shows like The Office or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are original and uniquely American, you’d be sorely mistaken. Both were ripped off from shows in the U.K. I’m just glad Friends is still sacred…or is it?
In music, it’s covers of popular songs. The song “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley had barely peaked in popularity before artists like Nelly Furtado and Butch Walker among others, were performing it at their own shows. However, I tend to like the covered versions of the song better, especially Butch’s. But obviously, that’s nothing new. For instance, Simon & Garfunkel’s cover of “Scarborough Fair” is in fact, a cover. Sure, you’ll see Paul Simon’s name next to it in liner notes, but it’s actually an old English folk song.
Really, all of this isn’t new at all. King Solomon in all his wisdom definitely said it best when he wrote “there is nothing new under the sun.” Hollywood, Television, and the Music industry have been recycling all along. Did you know that the Wizard of Oz was a remake? Indeed, L. Frank Baum’s novel saw a few different incarnations during the early part of the 20th century. Just a tip to Hollywood: another remake of the Wizard of Oz would be a goldmine. Just get Peter Jackson to direct it.
So we can bemoan remakes, covers, and sequels all we want, but it won’t matter. It’s been a money-making concept for a long time now and it certainly shows no signs of stopping. Besides, some of the music and movies we love have been recycled from less popular origins. Where would Hollywood be without the Wizard of Oz as we know it? Where would music be without Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower?” And that’s just scratching the surface.
As much as we may whine and gripe about modern versions of sacred benchmarks in our beloved entertainment, I still believe that we should give them a chance. Who knows? You might even like it more than the original.