Nostalgia in Creative Arts Promotes Lack of Originality

Discussions on artistic pursuits, or the prevalence of clichés in popular culture, are often met with eye rolls toward the person complaining. Likewise, a person who speaks out against Hollywood film remakes is often pictured as a snobby aspiring artist who wears a beret and sits in a café. However, I like to believe that this issue actually speaks to a bigger problem than just the creative arts in society.

Take for instance the reboot of the "Terminator" franchise called "Terminator: Genesis," which suffered horrible reviews from critics and speaks to the ultimate problem: mass consumerism. What fuels mass consumerism, especially at the box office, is name recognition. Since it is easier for pre-established brands to achieve acknowledgement, in some cases, box office trends are what studios look to when making new films.  

Between piracy and mass competition, it has become a race to pander to the biggest crowd. In these cases, perhaps some artistic snobbishness would not be so bad if it meant that people would produce original, quality films. However, production companies simply do what they are familiar with. This, in turn, creates an entire system in which remakes of films made less than 25 years ago are possible — as it is with the new "Point Break," which came out originally in 1991.

Some of the biggest names in film this year include "Jurassic Park," "Mad Max," "Star Wars" and "Terminator," and in recent years we have had several live adaptations of Disney films, like "Cinderella." In the near future, we also have "Point Break," "Back to the Future" and two "Ghostbusters" remakes. Admittedly, the female "Ghostbusters" as well as the African-American led "Annie" may have been made more for social purposes, but that is a whole other issue.

After speaking with some of my peers, I learned I am not the only one who is unhappy about the lack of originality in recent films.

“It’s lazy, when you take an idea that was already there. When I go to the movie theater I want to see something new and crazy,” said Ryan Policastro, sophomore and digital film major.

His opinion can be echoed in Film Society meetings when news of this is brought up and many groans can be heard. The whole idea of mass consumerism and Hollywood remakes is not nearly the problem; in fact, some remakes are fine and can be done with respect to the source material. Some remakes can even improve it, like this year’s "Mad Max" reboot, which can be seen as a new film entirely since it gave Max (Tom Hardy) a back-seat role to Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who was a new character completely.

Much like in politics, where lesser-known candidates often get ignored, movies from small studios or with new names do not often get seen by the mass public unless they generate buzz. So what can be done about this new, dangerous phenomenon to the film industry? You could avoid piracy and search for enjoyable films in a sea of what is sure to be a whole lot of misses. But remember, in order for a film to get remade in the first place, the original generally has to have been loved — and without new material, there are going to be less staples to fall in love with for future generations.