Copying, Reimagining, or just... Americanizing?




One thing I've noticed lately is that mainstream entertainment media is in a copy, remake, copy, remake... mode. At least in America it is.


We take something that has worked in the past or is currently working (just not under American control) and re-do it. Where is the originality? Have we run out of ideas or do we just think we can do things better than others?

Here are just a few examples of vampire-related remakes going on now.
 
I've heard talks that the popular classic TV series Dark Shadows being re-made. Tim Burton is purportedly directing and Johnny Depp starring as vampire Barnabas Collins.
http://www.collider.com/2010/11/04/johnny-depp-dark-shadows-tim-burton-filming-april/



While yes it was a classic series and it was well loved during it's time (and still has a cult following now) is it really necessary to remake it for the modern generation? Can't we love the original as it was and get some fresh new vampire-related soap opera's? The TV series is available to own on DVD so those that loved the classic can still love it as it was.

How about films that aren't that old? Should we remake them because they are no longer playing in theaters?

Take Let the Right One In for example. This was a 2004 vampire fiction novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, adapted to film in 2008.



(Personal Opinion) That was an awesome Swedish film. It wasn't in English and had to be subtitled (as I understand it the subtitles were "dumbed down" a little) but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the film. It was great all on it's own, in its original format. I'm not the only one who thought so too. It won many awards (check them out here via Wikipedia)

Then in 2010 (a mere 2 years later) an American director decided to make it in English. Let Me In.



You know what... I didn't see it. I didn't have any desire to either. (Personal Opinion) Why should I? I liked the original. It was fine just the way it was. I didn't need it Americanized to enjoy it.

When things like this are done, especially riding so close on the heels of original work, I wonder if any insult is taken? Did director Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In) feel somehow slighted that his creation was remade? Did director Matt Reeves (Let Me In) try to one-up the original film or was he simply trying to make it more palatable for English speaking audiences? I wonder what the real motivating factor was behind the remake?

Was it all just a Hollywood cash grab? Did they figure they needed to be apart of an already popular vampire movie while the genre is still hot? Is Hollywood being lazy or are they out of original Ideas? Given the popularity of vampires right now and the hundreds of novels being published about them yearly, I doubt it's  lack of fresh ideas. Seems a bit like one-upsmanship to me. "Whatever you can do, I can make it better here in America." But that's just my opinion. 

Of course, I've only been talking about remakes of things that are in the past, even if it's just the recent past.

What about remakes of current things?

I've been out of the loop for a little bit TV-wise and was only just made aware of the latest "lets Americanize something popular in other countries" ploy.  Check out this

One of my favorite TV shows (Which plays on BBC America) is Being Human.



It's brilliant! A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost are all living together. I know it sounds like the start of a bad joke but the series is really quite good. Through the series the roommates are constantly struggling with their conditions and trying to have as normal a life as possible. I love it. It's witty, dramatic, and filled with a cast of characters who feel "real." Maybe it's because I am so used to things being glamorized and Americanized that I find this (and other British TV shows) to be a breath of fresh air. It seems to me they focus more on the characters and their development and interactions instead of their looks and status. Here are a couple of my favorite clips. You can see how "real" they feel for yourself.

Mitchell trying to get other vampires "on the wagon" with him.




Annie (The ghost) holding a house meeting with George (the Werewolf) and Mitchell (the Vampire). Mitchell goes completely bonkers over missing his favorite TV show. The clip is brilliant because of how utterly Normal they make them seem. No matter how "different" they are, they are still so Human!!



The series is moving into season three at the moment and I've been waiting anxiously for them to start.

So, it was quite a shocker for me to find out that while I'm waiting for the new season, the series is getting ready to start up again, from the beginning. Only this time, it's an American version.



According to the promo video, this is a "NEW" and "ORIGINAL" series. I have to ask though, what exactly is new or original about it?

According to Wikipedia... The only real difference here is location and name changes. Neither of them being really all that New or Original. Boston is a great location but it's a big city. You want originality, then go for a lesser known location. The names are all changed from their original British versions but their back-stories are all very similar to their British counterparts.

Aiden- Formerly Mitchell (by the way the actor who plays Mitchell in the original series is named Aiden) is a vampire who is "on the wagon" meaning he is trying not to drink blood. He wants to be good. (Just like the British series)

Josh - Formerly George is a neurotic man (just like the original series) who had to abandon his original academic plans because of his new condition as a werewolf (also just like the original series)

Sally- Formerly Annie is described as vivacious, smart, funny and driven. (Yep, you guessed it. Sounds a lot like the original series Annie.) She died young after moving in with her boyfriend Danny. (Hmmm, I wonder if he killed her...) Oops is that a spoiler? Nah this isn't the original series we're talking about this is the NEW and ORIGINAL American version.

You can probably tell I'm a little pissed off about this. This is a current series that is getting ready to go into an exciting third season, and instead of American TV stations trying to pick it up for their viewers, they've decided they can do a better job with it. That's just plain cocky arrogance here. They're thumbing their nose at the original despite its popularity. I can't speak for the British people who have it on their regular stations, but I know many of us here in America are happy we have the opportunity to see it on BBC America. We'd welcome it into our regular channel lineup.

I know I am not the only one who is a little put off by this and the constant remaking of other good movies/TV shows, etc... So tell me, what are your thoughts on all of this? Do you appreciate the constant remaking? Were you aware that this was going on? Which series will you be watching? Do you even care?

Hope to hear from you.

Comments

Andrew Mocete said…
You're right about remakes being made for money. It's much easier to take something that's proved itself to work and repackage it.

From a business aspect it's a smart move because there are people that will not watch anything with subtitles.

In the case of Being Human the thinking might be to alter the show so it fits with American commonalities while still staying true to what the show is about. I've never seen the BBC version, so that's my total guess.

Artistically it kind of sucks because in can feel like your hard work is being dumbed down or diluted. And I get why passionate fans feel how they feel.

I think some guys are earnestly trying to give a fresh spin on a remake. The Fly and The Thing come to mind. Also it can end up being an advertisement for the original.

With the technology out there we've got the power to pick what version we want to watch. I try to give them a chance, though I'll admit I'm usually disappointed.