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Hollywood Suffers from a Creativity Stalemate

Posted on the 15 August 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Hollywood suffers from a creativity stalemate Batman, comic-book and big-screen hero. Photo credit: miripi photos,

For a few years now I’ve been wondering whether this generation, the one I have been born into and grown up in, has pretty much seen it all. Of course, with every passing generation, it becomes harder and harder to come up with new, original ideas. There are so many stories out there, it’s hard to think that anything you think of now will not have been thought of by someone else before you. It often seems that no idea is completely unique, that everything that is written or created is based on something else, something that has previously inspired you in one way or another.

It really gets to me though how Hollywood movie revenues today rely almost exclusively on the exploitation of established properties. Remakes, sequels, prequels and adaptations of books, comics and videogames, have come to dominate the movie industry, in such a way that it is not so much a good story that gets a film green-lit but more a sense that the audience will be familiar with the material.

This has an upside though, that nothing based on a new idea could ever have: it plays on the audience’s sense of safety and familiarity. It is easier to get a turnout for, say a Batman or Spiderman movie, than a new superhero someone has never heard of.

There is, therefore, a growing reluctance among viewers to receive new ideas. And at the same time, and of equal or more importance, there is film producers’ own sense of aversion to failure. As to which came first, viewers’ lazy reception or producers’ fear, well that’s like the chicken and the egg debate. One thing’s for sure though, and that is that if we choose to let these sentiments takeover, our generation will witness the stagnation of creativity to an almost irrecoverable point.

Author Ewan Morrison’s statement on fan fiction at The Guardian can be applied to this case:

“The point where fans become the creators, and a derivative work becomes the new original is also the point at which the culture industries stop needing to create anything new. Fanfic begets fanfic, which then in turn becomes mainstream which then begets further fanfic and so on. When we reach that point our future will not be fifty, but fifty thousand, shades of gray.”

So I’d like to go out on this: Don’t be afraid to fail. Some of the best and most memorable stories out there have also been the craziest and most controversial of their time. And don’t be reluctant to receive, be open to new ideas. Going to see yet another Spiderman movie is all well and good, but giving a new superhero a chance might prove more enriching than you could possibly imagine.

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