Originality Is Overrated

So I was browsing Reddit the other day (like I do when I need to get stuff done sometimes) and came across the above graphic entitled, “Hollywood’s Waning Creativity.” I have a number of problems with this: That it makes a too-broad sweep in demonizing all sequels/remakes/adaptations, that critics (usually) give a whole different set of movies their highest ratings, the fact that it’s the audiences who determine box office and not Hollywood, and that box office numbers do not correlate to the number of original films in a year. But this is a complaint that’s been thrown at Hollywood for a long time now and I think it’s time we get down to the root of the problem. Here’s a hint: it’s not the sequels/remakes/adaptations (S/R/A), nor is it Hollywood.

The problem is that we give “originality” too much credit. We speak about original films as if they are some bit of magic that we’ve lost in a more cynical time. To crave originality so highly is to ignore the many wonderful and highly respected S/R/A’s. And with all this S/R/A bashing, it’s easy to forget that completely original films can suck just as much as any retread. I don’t need to tell you that there are downright atrocious films that were based on original scripts. And let’s not forget that many a crappy film franchise began with an original film.

In fact, I think the term “Original film” is a falsity. Ask any filmmaker and they’ll tell you they were influenced by another filmmaker, author, or movie. There’s very few who will (or can) say that they came up with an idea completely independently of anything else. This is not to downplay anybody’s talents whatsoever, but I don’t think you can say that it’s always harder or better to write an original film than it is to adapt or sequelize something. In fact, you’d probably be surprised of just how many of your favorite films are either a remake or an adaptation.

I don’t automatically think less of any S/R/A. Why should I? Every film should be given a chance on it’s own no matter the source. Have you taken a look at the top twenty films on IMDb lately? Of those twenty, only six are “original” films (and just two are in the top ten). There have been sequels going back to 1916 (The Fall of a Nation), adaptations since 1900 (Sherlock Holmes Baffled), and one of the first remakes was made in 1904 just one year after the original (The Great Train Robbery). So to act like all this is some recent thing that Hollywood has cooked up to make easy bucks is simply untrue.

And I hate to disappoint the people out there who love to hate, but your precious original films do still exist. Just because Mission: Impossible 4 is a thing doesn’t mean you can’t go see Looper this weekend (and you should). If original films matter so much to you, put your money where your mouth is, do your proper research, and only support those films. Me? I just want to watch something good. Whether it’s The Master or The Avengers, a good film is a good film. I don’t care where it comes from or if it has a number at the end of the title. Let’s stop acting like Hollywood is devolving and just enjoy the movies.

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Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting.

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