Do It Again: Movie Remakes & Geek Culture

Posted in Media on July 12, 2016 by David Lascelle

Film remakes are nothing new. They’re as old as the Hollywood Hills themselves, or almost. From the Classics of the Silent Era right to today’s Studio Franchise Tentpole Blockbusters, audiences have repeatedly been asked to cough up their hard earned cash for something they’ve already seen. (Don’t even get me started on sequels.)

And American films are by no means alone in this practice of regurgitating old product, slapping a bow on it and passing it off as something ‘New & Improved’. Even a casual glance through any world cinema reference will give evidence to the global nature of this practice.

The reasons for wanting to remake a movie are myriad but eventually, whatever the noble (or not so noble) intentions of those involved, it all comes down to the studio preferring to green light something tried & true with known brand recognition than taking a chance on the unknown.

And for Geek Culture that should be very troubling indeed. For G.C. was forged in the unknown. Its founder’s were the outliers of their respective eras. Did they want to make a buck and put food on their tables? Without a doubt. But in the pages of the pulp magazines that gave birth to all things geeky, they did that by being different from what was mainstream. And even different from each other.

Was it all good? Not a chance. But enough of it was to inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps. Far away from the spotlights and acceptance of their more conventional literary peers. Fandom existed but it was embryonic. If only it had stayed that way.

We are living in the Golden Age of Geek Culture. As I write this the San Diego Comic Con (probably the largest Pop/Geek Culture convention in the world) is just over a week away. It’s massive influence is impossible to overstate.  If you make it there . . . Hoards flock to this mecha to feel that they are part of something greater than themselves, that they belong. The fringe has gone mainstream.

You can’t truly innovate in the mainstream. You can standardize. You can streamline. You can maximize. You can Hollywoodize. But you can’t innovate.  You can rinse, lather, repeat. To quote Steely Dan: “You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turinin’ ’round and ’round.”

So, to feel like we belong we sit through remakes of geek movies that were fresh when we were kids. Maybe the effects are better (and that’s a big maybe) but the heart is gone. The innovation non-existent. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that.

This is what our generation produces to inspire the next.

And with the emergence of the global box office the ability to ‘vote with your wallet’ to discourage studios from remaking Geek Culture Classics is effectively dead. “It did well in Cairo!”

What’s a geek to do? Personally speaking, there’s a reason I’ve always stayed at the back of the convention hall while everyone else was rushing the stage like lemmings, it’s close to the exit.

Be seeing you.