Digital Beard Stroking: If it starts to look too much like a ripoff, it’s a Homage now.


As some big series are premiering sequels around now (either releasing them or teasing them), I feel like I ought to jabber about those for a little bit.

fft_darlavon_portrait

c’mere, I’m going to explain some things to you for no reason.

When it comes to sequels, we have a very demanding attitude about them as fans.  They can’t be too similar to the original, or they’re stale and boring.  They can’t be too different, or they’re a departure and no good.  I’ve talked about this before, but it gets more interesting when you start to include the variations that come about when wildly different people write sequels.  Considering Star Wars, for example, we see the original movie that was so ground breaking (thematically, financially, culturally) that it seems nigh-impossible to really top it.  The sequel was almost guaranteed to have at least some level of success just by being adjacent to the original.  As we progress along, the ripples caused by the original movie spread far and wide as we see some of the most elaborate and imaginative spinoffs and novels.  The community starts to organize the validity of the offerings and categorize them in ways that even the originators cannot imagine.  These all walk the fine line between licensed material (I.E. Sequels, in some sense) and unofficial references (ripoffs at worst, homages at best).  Once the prequels come around, it becomes even MORE muddied as to whether those are true sequels, halfassed ripoffs or sad sellout crap.

45807

Seems Legit.

 

But this gets complicated because if we delve back into the roots of Star Wars, it was “inspired” by Japanese samurai films.  It was so inspired by it that it’s at least an homage, if not an imitation of the original movies that inspired Lucas to create that film.  (Though, to be fair, ripping off Japanese cinema to make your movie is a time honored tradition in Hollywood).  This starts to bring an interesting perspective to the conversation.  Star Wars is arguably more popular than any Kurosawa film, yet it could never exist without that influence.  Plenty of westerns can be directly linked to Japanese films (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remakes_of_films_by_Akira_Kurosawa).  These homages are generally cherished as being legitimate and separate from the original.  More of an “inspired by” than “straight up lifted”.  It gets even more interesting with things like The Dark Tower series which pulls inspiration from all sorts of places (including the obvious westerns, but all across cinema and literature).  The premise could come off as a parody if it weren’t so lovingly rendered into it’s stereotypes and tropes.  Hopefully, that delicate balance will be maintained for the upcoming cinematic adaptation (which, in and of itself, constitutes a sort of spinoff/sequel/reimagining).  Sometimes, though, these are less well done and are clearly just cash grabs.

There’s entirely too many of those and it’s a very subjective category so I’ll just leave the furried visage of Mike Meyers at the exact mid-point in his declining fame and move on, swiftly.

worst-book-to-film-adaptations

Can we just not talk about this category? it makes me sad.

I’m going to finish by talking briefly about the most peculiar of scenarios in the whole sequel/remake/knockoff conversation: When the knockoff outpaces the original.  While this is true of plenty of different sorts of extrapolations and fanfics.  50 shades of grey, for example, was originally a fanfic of Twilight.  (If you didn’t know that, I’m both sorry to make you store more information about either of those series, but also happy to arm you with that nugget of useful ammunition against the twin-linked shit-cannon that is Twilight and 50 Shades.  I’m not even gonna cite that.  Go find it for yourself.  It’s out there.  Not even controversial.  You’re welcome/I’m sorry).  Far better than the rather distasteful reference there (Literally worse than Cat in the Hat and my reignited Final Fantasy Tactics obsession) is the list from Cracked, of all places: http://www.cracked.com/article_20025_5-world-famous-products-that-are-shameless-rip-offs.html.  So as a final note, if you can’t think of the most original thing in the world, that’s okay, as long as you do something better than someone else.

n5b1mno

You hear me Rogue One, Dark Tower and Last Of Us?  Get your shit together!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *