because Hollywood is — truly and at last — creatively bankrupt

It seems like everywhere I turned this week for movie news, it was all the same: So-and-so has signed on for a remake, a sequel, a prequel, a reboot, or a reimagining:

Christopher Nolan is reinventing Superman

Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro are remaking Taxi Driver with Lars Von Trier

Wuthering Heights is getting the Twilight treatment

No, wait, Little Red Riding Hood is getting the Twilight treatment

James Cameron is rebooting Spider-Man

…and so on.
The Von Trier rumor was later squashed, but the fact remains that the Net was abuzz, if only for a few moments, with excitement over the notion of one filmmaker taking another’s film and putting his own spin on it. Why? Why aren’t we more excited by the prospect of a filmmaker whose unique visions we’ve embraced in the past offering us another new vision, not merely yet another take on someone else’s old vision? Where are the posts, anyway, gushing over something entirely new from a filmmaker we love?

I worry that this is the ultimate end result of geek culture. I’ve applauded in the past how geeks are not passive consumers of pop culture but active participants in it, whether that means writing fan fiction or starting fan sites or even — ahem — setting themselves up as film critics online. But now it seems that Hollywood is inextricably and entirely indulging in the same fanac itself.

I’m not railing against franchises per se, just the constant recycling of old ideas instead of the exploration of new ones. Where are the creators creating the new franchises of the future? Where are the new alien worlds, the new superheroes, the new exotic adventurers? We did get Avatar, which isn’t based on any other material, but there was some handwringing over the film’s prospects precisely because it wasn’t based on a known property. Would fans bother with a film they weren’t already familiar with? was the worry. Maybe the fact that fans did bother means that we’re more likely to see original visions now than we were before Avatar was released. Then again, there was this story on New York’s Vulture yesterday: “Disney to Hollywood: If It Can’t Sell Toys, It Had Better Be Cheap.”

It’s all very, very depressing for anyone who craves originality and ingenuity and imagination.

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.

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