|Posted by Ratin8tor on August 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM|
Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now this is a complaint that has been heard time and again. Hollywood is out of original ideas. It's just remakes and reboots and sequels and adaptations. Why can't they have an original idea, make something new? Because, ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing new under the sun. For no matter how good of a writer you are, there shall forever just be seven basic plots.
So what are these seven basic plots? Coined by Christopher Booker, the seven plots are (in brief):
1)Overcoming the Monster: Hero has to destroy a great evil threatening the land.
2)Rags to Riches: Hero starts out with nothing and grows into something, whether through material or spiritual means.
3)The Quest: The Hero and his friends go off on an adventure to get something.
4)Voyage and Return: Hero goes to strange new land, learns to adapt to the rules of the land and return a better person because of it.
5)Comedy: Not just in terms of what's funny, but that miscommunication causes problems, with the villains often redeemed at the end.
6)Tragedy: The Villain is the monster from point 1, being defeated by the hero. Seeing the flip side of overcoming the monster.
7)Rebirth: See the Tragedy plot, only where the villain sees the errors of his ways before it's too late.
Now whatever film, book, story, whatever you mention, it is guaranteed that it will be based on one of these seven plots. While I could easily sit here and list them, that's not what this blog is all about. No this is the blog that's all about the complaint that there is no original ideas left in Hollywood. This is both a true and false claim at the same time.
Yes, it's true. There are no original ideas left in Hollywood. We're gonna be seeing the same films again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and at the risk of sounding repetitive, you get the general idea. But Hollywood movies are repetitive because of how everything eventually boils down to its most simplistic components. More often then not there is a hero fighting a villain. It's the oldest story known to man. It doesn't matter if that Hero wears bat ears, or if the Villain is a murderous uncle that usurped the throne. The fact is that it's still gonna exist. So does that mean we can never enjoy a piece of fiction ever again?
No, of course not. All stories can be seem as being the same. But it's telling the story that makes them so much more different. It's not a simple matter of just reciting the same tired story that everyone has already heard. It's about doing it in such a way that engages our interest. If you need an example, there's no better place to turn to then Transformers (the Michael Bay version) and the Avengers (the Joss Whedon version).
When you boil these stories right down to the core, they're virtually identical: One side has magical cube of ultimate power, other side wants to get it off them. At its very core that is the story of both Transformers and the Avengers. However one of these films is beloved and the third highest-grossing film of all time, while the other has spawned two sequels that are so bad they often appear on 'Worst Films Of All Time' lists. But why is that? When the films are so similar?
Well it's not the story, but the execution that is key. Transformers has flat dull characters that don't do much and aren't very interesting to watch. Sure you could make the argument that you just want to see giant robots beat each other up, but there's not even that much in the films. Most of the time it's Sam Witwicky acting like a gormless idiot. In comparison, the Avengers has strong characters that make the story emotionally engaging as well as interesting to watch.
So is Hollywood out of ideas? Yes. But that's only because we've been out of ideas since we first started coming up with fiction. The reason why everything feels so repetitive is that it is. But we shouldn't let that be an excuse to make bad movies. Time and again we've proven that we can enjoy the movie, regardless of how old the plot is. Why? Because films (and other forms of fiction) represent a lovely bit of escapism, where we can remove ourselves from the problems in our lives for just a little while. We don't care too much about story when we go watch a film. We just want to be engaged. And if Hollywood films can do that time after time after time, do we have any right for claiming them to be 'unoriginal'.
So there you have it. My views on the idea that Hollywood is out of ideas. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.
Categories: In Too Deep