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Old August 4 2012, 06:40 PM   #1379
stj
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Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

Apollonius' choice to do a Homeric imitation was harshly questioned in his own lifetime. It's more highly regarded now. It was at least a different set of myths. The poets who actually rewrote Homer, such as Quintus Smyrnaeus (The Fall of Troy,) are pretty much forgotten, save by eccentrics like the late Lin Carter. Those guys are like the Hollywood screenwriters doing remakes and reboots, not the Apolloniuses and Vergils and Ovids. The epyllia never make into the literature books.

Named authors telling folk tales or dramatizing folklore isn't the same as a Hollywood screenwriter getting more mileage out of a property. Modern print stories are not the kernels of folklore and legend. We know this for a fact. No one actually rewrites Oliver Twist or Dracula or The Three Musketeers or Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan or The Phantom of the Opera, just to mention some of the most iconic figures. There are continuations and surreptitious filler stories, imitations and parodies and pastiches, but none have joined the supposed corpus of myth and folklore posited above. Most people can enjoy such things to some degree or other, but nobody confuses them with the originals nor do they put them on the same level creatively. They are not wholly devoid of originality, creativity, to be sure. They just have less.

That has nothing to do with the validity of the motives of the writers. That issue is a red herring, distracting from the fairly obvious observation that this kind of copying is less original, aka "creative." What print work does get rewritten, that is, remade or rebooted, over and over again? Comic books. I do not think we can honestly make an argument that is a sign of creativity or legends in the making.

Now, as to why Hollywood keeps remaking Dracula or The Three Musketeers or whatever has nothing to do with any desire to comment on legend or any such folderol. It's name recognition. The people who actually create the remakes and reboots have creative impulses of course. They are necessarily less original. The play with the tropes may be cunning and diverse. It may be highly entertaining. There may be a kind of miniaturist's delight in reproducing in small the original, or a decorator's pleasure in exuberant, even roccoco elaboration. (Usually, not, but sometimes.) But at the best of times, there is a different kind of enjoyment than that felt when appreciating an original work. Partly of course, remakes and reboots survive because the audiences don't have enough residual familiarity, or any perhaps.

But the sad fact is that the more original it truly is, the greater the shock to people who actually wanted a highly derivative continuation. It's not irrational to feel conned, taken in by a bait-and-switch when you go by a well-known name but get something else.

PS The words "unoriginal" and "creatively bankrupt" were not harmed in the making of this post.
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