Arts

Illustration: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

Lack of originality in film industry leaves no room for diversity and growth

It’s a tale as old as time, and no I’m not just talking about the new release of the Beauty and the Beast remake that came out last weekend.

The film industry has been milking the same ideas for decades. Whether it’s Disney’s reiterations of century old fairy tales, pointless additions to big blockbuster franchises like The Matrix, or superhero retellings, filmmaking has become less and less about the art and increasingly about the money game.

What makes this such an issue is that even with a new generation of talented actors and filmmakers we’re still hearing the same stories that we’ve always been told. And somehow, even with decade-long gaps, the characters never evolve.

“You want a biracial Peter Parker? Sorry, not possible. Because that would go against the fictional world already created in the comic books this entire franchise is based on. But, you know what would be cool? If we just kept him in high school forever,” said some Hollywood producer, somewhere, probably.

Did someone say Idris Elba could be the next James Bond? What an outrage! Even a rumour about nontraditional casting roles can’t go without controversy.  Hell, Beauty and the Beast is facing backlash for having a gay character.

Not to mention the whole hullaballoo over a black Hermione Granger.

And it’s not just the fact that Hollywood is spending money on movies we’ve already seen, and expanding cinematic universes that already exist. Sometimes, once they’ve exhausted all their options (namely books and classic movies), they’ll switch it up by distastefully borrowing from other cultures.

Take Ghost in the Shell for instance, which is set to be released on March 31. The original sci-fi Japanese anime, based on a manga from 1989, is sprinkled with philosophical ideology including speculation on a future of artificial intelligence. It’s groundbreaking stuff, a franchise that inspired the minds behind the original Matrix.

But the story is set in Japan for a reason. The social and political context surrounding the plot are what make this Japanese franchise so notable, and without all that good stuff it’s completely void of meaning.

By recycling movie ideas we’re not giving them new life, we’re just attempting to re-create artful masterpieces that were done better the first time, and failing miserably.

And don’t even get me started on pointless sequels and naked cash grabs.

I remember feeling so disappointed after The Dark Knight Rises came out because I had waited for a movie, that was a part of my favourite franchise, to blow my mind. Instead it just blew its budget for a plot that made no sense. But the film still got the job done—ushering herds of Batman fans (myself included) into a theatre for $12 a ticket.

And someone needs to say it: The Fast and the Furious needs to die, and Pirates of the Caribbean would have been better as a stand-alone movie. Also, I just can’t watch anymore “saving Matt Damon” movies or another live-action “re-imagining” of a classic fairytale.

Maybe it’s time for Hollywood to broaden its horizons and strive to tell more than just one story for the next generation, rather than relying on nostalgia to sell stale remakes.