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Entertainment lacks originality

Photo credit: Helen Suh

If you look at the box office right now, a brief list of those based on a true story – or at least inspired by one – would include these movies: “The Revenant,” “The Finest Hours,” “13 Hours,” “The Big Short,” “Spotlight,” “Joy,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Concussion.

The movie list above is just from the past couple months, I’m not even looking at earlier this year or the year before. Most of these movies also take place in the last sixty years or so. If I added sequels, prequels, remakes and spin-offs to this list, my word count would be met without having to add any of my own commentary.

So my frustration could be stated thus: the entertainment industry has been lacking in originality.

It’s not just in the film industry either that this problem exists. I haven’t heard of a timeless song coming out since the ’90s. And if it wasn’t for “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” I would have given up on television after “Breaking Bad.”

There are probably many factors that contribute to this problem of no originality. But each factor comes back around to this problem that all creation in entertainment, such as writing screenplays and lyrics, which is supposed to be a show of creativity, is too formulaic, and it is too formulaic because it is too concerned with making money.

I see the new “Star Wars” movie as being symbolic of this point, and I think looking at the film will help me illustrate. Hollywood took a popular franchise that has a huge fan base, gave it a popular director named J.J. Abrams and basically just re-hashed some plot points from the original movies.

Basically the movie was made to please fans and make a fuck-ton of money in the process. And they succeeded too – the movie broke box office records.

When I say that I haven’t heard a timeless song in a while, I mean that most hit songs today are going to be forgotten tomorrow.

All songs seem to sound the same, or at least have the same effect. Probably because they are all following the same pattern. A slightly catchy tune, a big name “artist.” You may not think the song is that great, but the radio will play the song enough to fool you.

The branch that is lacking the most in originality would have to be television. It wouldn’t be hard to split all TV into four categories, those being crime, hospital drama, sitcom and reality TV.

A small list of crime shows on TV: “Southland,” “Monk,” “Burn Notice,” “The Closer,” “Heroes,” “Law and Order,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” “The Bridge,” “Castle,” “Rizzoli and Isles,” and “Angie Tribeca.” There are a lot more crime shows out there, and this list doesn’t even include the good crime shows like “The Wire,” “The Sopranos” or “True Detective.”

There is nothing unoriginal about making a crime show, but when half of them have to do with some detective going through case after case per episode, they all seem to blend together.

You could argue that there is still a glimmer of originality in entertainment (you can always count on Quentin Tarantino to come out with a great film like The Hateful Eight“), except that’s all it is – a glimmer.

Maybe this show is a little different compared to this one. I can endure this song on the radio for a little longer than all the others. But I am hungry for something new that stands out from the rest, and I have been starving for quite some time.

The entertainment industry has become so formulaic with how they appeal to people that they have practically come up with a science for it. However the thing about science is that it is extremely consistent and utterly unoriginal. Science is supposed to stand on one end of the spectrum while art is at the opposite end. Taking an art form like music or storytelling and turning it into a science isn’t just distasteful, it is wrong on a much more objective level. Maybe if the people in the industry cared more about what they were making rather than the money they were making in the process, we wouldn’t have this issue.

Jeff Guzman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Jeff Guzman
Jeff Guzman, Staff Writer

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