How are you guys? I know, it got real weird this week with all that Rachel Dolezal stuff. Like, are we post-racial or what? And, with a presidential election over a year away, we all need to make formal statements via Facebook, because everyone should definitely know what we think all time.
Life is short and fraught with tension. So, we should be able to just relax, and go to the movies, and spend $14.97 on popcorn and Diet Coke in addition to our $18.00 tickets, right? But even that experience, once an immersion in American storytelling, has become another massive load of crap for us to waste our hard-earned money on. If modern movie-going was a food, it would be 3D Doritos. Only they would be 4D.
Basically everything is a sequel now. Or a remake. With rare exception, Hollywood is bankrupt of original ideas. More than half of the top 25 highest-grossing films of 2014 were sequels, remakes or reboots. In the past three months alone we had "Jurassic World," "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Furious 7." Add that to the rise of the book adaptations, and original screenplays are nearly extinct. And now there's going to be more "Hunger Games" and "Maze Runner," another "Maleficent," another "Star Wars" and another goddamn "Princess Diaries." According to this list by some person on IMDb, there are nearly 250 sequels scheduled between now and 2020. That's a rough sketch, but that just means user dimantha_j is missing some reboots that haven't been announced yet.
The craziest thing is that the Big Fancy Movie People think this is what we want! Did you see "Jurassic World" yet, America? I don't even know why I'm asking; it was the highest-grossing film in the history of the universe, so obviously you did. Anyway, maybe you caught the scene, after the Mercedes product placement and before the Jimmy Buffett product placement, when they were blatantly mocking us for wanting to see "Jurassic World" in the first place. (Did anyone else want to spend $4.50 on just about anything from Starbucks while watching? I just had such a craving for conspicuous consumption.)
Anyway, this is what the people want now, Bryce "'Heels' And Also Dallas" Howard (Claire) tells Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong). Real-life dinosaurs are not enough, she says, the crowds need bigger, better, reinvented dinosaurs that are part T-Rex and part cuttlefish and part lots of other stuff (including some animal that can camouflage)! Translation: Today's mind-numbingly bloated blockbusters may as well be cooked up in a lab, because that's what we go and see and what makes the Big Fancy Movie People lots and lots of money.
The thing is, we keep on seeing these movies, and the effect is contagious. We see the sequels and the reboots, and then they are spread overseas, where they are seemingly guaranteed success by mere virtue of being American. We dictate the market with our dollars, determining what will be engineered to metastasize in foreign markets. Meanwhile, all the middle-sized films can't break through. They are dying, being killed like the computer-generated herbivores that the Indominus Rex kills for sport in "Jurassic World."
Do you see that shark being eaten by that sea dinosaur or whatever? THAT SHARK IS US, America. And the sea dinosaur is Sequel Culture. It is consuming us whole because this is what we want, apparently. There is no room for new narratives, because everything is just reassembled and sold again and again and again sometimes more than eight times.
Please play "The Star-Spangled Banner" while you read the remainder of the piece.
This is our future unless we decide to stop it, like we decided to be independent and throw that gross British tea in the ocean. We are America, America. We are the greatest country in the world. We set an example for the rest of the less great countries. And, even if that's not 100 percent true, we are 100 percent good at tending to the illusion of American exceptionalism. That has to count for something, dammit. We can fight, as we always have, with our wallets. Let us banish sequel culture the way we banished communism. Spend your money and be proud to be an American. Or, at the very least, wait for "The Princess Diaries 3" to come out on video on demand.
One Humble Daughter of the Revolution (of Movies),
Middlebrow is a recap of the week in entertainment, celebrity and television news that provides a comprehensive look at the state of pop culture. From the rock bottom to highfalutin, Middlebrow is your accessible guidebook to the world of entertainment. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.
Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca
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