We are no strangers to remixes, reboots, and sequels.
This is because the film industry is flooded with films that borrow from other successful narrative and character archetypes, effectively creating what has been called a "remix culture" in American cinema.
Kirby Ferguson, the one whose popular series Everything is a Remix brought to light a different way of looking at originality and creativity, is now asking whether or not our love affair with familiar stories and heroes has run its course. In this video essay, he argues whether or not J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens has become the harbinger of doom for this remix culture in film.
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/167069783
Now, the weight of such a claim doesn't solely rest on The Force Awakens. There are tons of reboots, remixes, and franchise films that have been saturating the market for years, but the fact that this film draws so many similarities between A New Hope, makes it an easier, more discernible target for criticism. In fact, it might be one of the most peculiar kind of franchise films in terms of remix culture, because it borrows and steals from its own franchise. It's essentially a meta-remix.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEdxkktNVkI
Through the years we've seen franchise films grow and evolve—I mean, the Star Wars franchise itself made a "prequel" a thing. And now, it has, in a way, cannibalized itself to create yet another kind of remix, one that appeals to the original diehard fans by reusing tropes and storylines that they're familiar with and love.
Is anything wrong with that? It depends on who you ask. I personally am not fond of when one of my favorite films get rebooted for today's audience, because many times it takes away the original charm and heart and awesomeness that made them my favorite films in the first place. (Ahem—Poltergeist!) But sometimes, fans love it if it works. Who didn't love seeing the Millennium Falcon take flight in The Force Awakens? Who wasn't cheering when they saw Han Solo and Chewy show up for the first time on screen? However, the point here is that remix culture might be becoming lazy, and this might cause audiences to finally become fed up with tired clichés.
Are franchise films copying, transforming, and combining, or are they just copying? Are we seeing the final days of the tentpoles? Will fresh narratives and new characters start to emerge? Let us know in the comments!