When it comes to movies, TV shows and music these days, there seems to be a sense of déjà vu. Remakes and sequels, along with book and comic book adaptations, are becoming quite popular in the media industry and seem to be good moneymakers, but the lack of creativity in these industries is still in question.
While Hollywood sequels, remakes and adaptations seem to dominate, this phenomenon is not new to the industry.
English professor David Smit, who has also taught classes on film adaptation, said Hollywood has always depended on novels and plays for material.
“Remakes and adaptations are the very basis of what Hollywood does and what it has always done,” Smit said.
Chris Wehner, a film critic for the Movie Review & Screenplay Database, said in an online article that remakes of movies and recycled storylines have been a part of Hollywood since the 1930s. Even famous screenwriters and filmmakers, like Alfred Hitchcock for example, remade movies or created sequels.
“Storylines have been recycled countless times and have so for years,” Wehner said in the article. “Not only did Hitchcock remake his movies, he recycled his scenes.”
Not everyone feels that movies and music should be remade. Felix Vasquez Jr., editor-in-chief and columnist for Cinema-Crazed.com, said in an article that there is a lack of creativity, and movies are being made from literally everything.
“There’s a shocking lack of creativity, originality, and intelligence in pop culture these days, and people are eating it up with a spoon,” Vasquez said.
John Farr, a writer for The Huffington Post, said in another article that in this time of economic crisis, Hollywood should also concentrate on making smaller, more cost-efficient movies than spending large budgets on remakes and sequels, especially with popular franchises.
Farr said the movie business has focused more on drawing the critical 12- to 24-year-old demographic into theaters. He said younger consumers tend not to read reviews but are sensitive to marketing, while adults typically want more to their movies than special effects and explosions.
“Back in Hollywood’s Golden Age, the industry made literate films for grown-ups because they wanted to build the prestige of the medium with high-quality, thought-provoking entertainment,” Farr said.
Farr said making many smaller budget movies instead of just a few big budget ones would employ more people, get more people in theaters and would win critical raves.
Bethany Fief, junior in public relations, said Hollywood has lacked creativity in some genres, which gets repetitive and pointless. But she also said there have been some recent movies that create their own style.
“I do like how movies from Sundance and other independent creative studios are really branching out,” she said. “The new movies with unique plotlines are giving Hollywood somewhat of a positive image.”
The music industry also has seen its share of remakes, which also is an interest for Fief.
“Some bands play the same repetitive guitar riffs over and over with the same whiny pop lyrics. Other bands branch out and experiment with chords and electronic sounds,” she said. “A Perfect Circle is a great example of a band that knows how to be creative and do remakes.”
Fief gave an example of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” remade by rock bands Shinedown and The Deftones, and said she thought Shinedown did a great job of doing a cover.
“Brent Smith [lead vocalist for Shinedown] has amazing vocal talent, and he was able to show off his abilities in that song,” Fief said. “However, the Deftones cover was just weird. [Lead vocalist Chino Mareno’s] vocal pitch didn’t match, and there was no creativity.”
Whether there is lack of creativity in Hollywood and the music industry comes down to opinion. But it seems recycling material will be something that is always a part of the entertainment industry.
“It may be a matter of opinion whether remakes and adaptations are good or bad things, but it is a matter of fact how much Hollywood does rely on these genres,” Smit said. “My sense is that they have not been relying on them more.”
Fief said she thinks Hollywood and the music industry should at least make their work personalized.
“Overall, Hollywood and the music industry need to strive to make things their own,” she said. “If they are going to do a cover, they need to do it completely different or very similar. Nothing in between.”