I have noticed a worrying trend in recent years, and it has led me to the conclusion that inspiration is a dying thing.
Just think back, when was the last time you saw/heard/read something completely original? I actually can't remember the last time I saw something actually new. I mean, totally new. As in, never been done before.
Let's look at cinema as an example shall we?
One of the biggest films of this year, which is set to clean up at the Oscars, is "The Artist".
Now, I haven't seen it so my opinions on whether it's any good or not are totally non-existant. I'm assured it's excellent, and I have no doubt that it is. But, a big part of the hype surrounding it comes from the fact that it is a silent film, which in turn is driving it's "novelty" factor through the roof. But unless you've been living under a rock your entire life, you'll probably be aware that silent films have been around since...Well, silent films started cinema.
In other words, the idea of doing a silent film is most certainly not a new one.
Doing a silent film in the 21st century? Whilst no-one else has done it (not in true "silent film" style anyway) I'm loathed to call it a new idea. It's no more novel than painting a buffalo on the wall of cave and calling that "cutting edge"(and yes, I know that no-one is calling The Artist "cutting edge"...)
If you want to measure just how bereft of inspiration the film world seems to be, look no further than the sheer number of unwanted, unneeded and unoriginal sequels, prequels and reboots that are being released.
Star Wars episodes 1, 2 and 3. Alien Resurrection. Alien Versus Predator. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Terminator Salvation. Star Trek. Spiderman. Superman. Transformers. X Men. Everything ever released by Marvel ever...
Not all of these are terrible films, but every single film I just listed is part of an existing franchise. It really seems to me like Hollywood is running out of ideas rapidly, and is just squeezing every penny out of anything with a pre-existing fanbase in some sort of huge diversionary tactic.
Either that, or this sort of "Nostalgia Culture" that is so prevalent now (mainly thanks to people who weren't born in the 80's pining for the 80's...)has spread to the vital organs of society and is now fighting a very one sided battle against anything that might be deemed original.
I mean seriously, think about it: How many films can you think of that include some sort of little "knowing wink" to the fanbase? here's a hint - All of the films I listed above.
Let's take a closer look.
Guns N' Roses being featured in Terminator Salvation. - Top comment by the kind of idiot who laps it up: "i remember everyone in the theater cheered when this tune played. great little reference to T2"
Red shirt guy in Star Trek. - Top comment by the kind of idiot who laps it up: "Haha! This is why JJ Abrams and his writers did such a great job! Very nice comment, thanks a lot."
The warehouse in Indiana Jones 4 - This one particularly bothers me, as it totally undermines the final shot of "Raiders". The whole point of that was that it was meant to allude to an enormous, mysterious warehouse full of God knows what. To return to that as a location in the fourth film totally detracts from the impact of that final shot.
This stuff isn't clever. It's just shit. I imagine a cinema full of blithering idiots going "I LIKE THIS FILM NOW BECAUSE IT HAD A BIT IN IT FROM ANOTHER FILM THAT I ALSO LIKE". Just because you have a nod to your film's predecessors does not validate it as being a relevant part of the franchise.
Nor does it make it good. Terminator 3 is the worst example of this. Not only does it totally fuck up the (frankly perfect) ending of Terminator 2 by simply existing, but it tries to do the whole "knowing wink" thing, but make it funny in the process.
Having Arnold Schwarzenegger arrive, and leave the club wearing the stupid star shaped sunglasses is just ridiculous. I know it's played for laughs, but again, it totally undermines the entire tone of everything that has passed already. The Terminator films are not comedies. The first one was meant to be a horror film for Christ's sake.
I have posted a quote before by one of my favourite film-makers, Jim Jarmusch, which basically says originality comes from being able to manage your influences well. By all means borrow from whats gone before, but never copy it. It's obvious when something is being copied wholesale, even if you're "putting your own slant on it". That does not equate to originality. And that goes for these little nods back to the originals. It's no fucking substitution for actually doing something that ADDS to the canon, as opposed to celebrating it.
It's for this reason that I'm looking forward to Ridley Scott's "Prometheus". when asked if it was going to be another "Alien" move, he said (paraphrased) "No. It takes place in the same universe, and goes some way to explaining bits of the alien movies, but it isn't an alien movie". We need more of this. You just know he's not going to fill his film with little "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" bits. If theres any reference to aliens in there at all, it will be to expand the canon.
If we look past film, into music, the exact same thing is happening there too. When was the last time a genuinely new genre of music came along? Something that wasn't just some sub-genre of something else, or two genres being forced together in the same way an idiot child bangs two saucepans together and gets on everybodies tits. Seriously, when?
I've always had this idea that mainstream culture and art were at war with each other. Or more graphically, that art is like the body and mainstream culture like the cancer. The way I see it now, the cancer is winning.
There is this fucking horrible emphasis on pop culture references in film, music and television at the moment. It manifests itself in this...abortion... known as "crunk-core" which, as far as I can tell, is made by paedophiles and aimed at teenage girls.
With that in mind, watch this clip of aformentioned paedophile and try not to cringe.
It basically consists of literally anything an American teenage girl might consider cool (Nintendo, electro, emo clothing, vampires...) colliding together in what can only be described as the musical equivalent of Vanilla Ice eating an entire bag of sugar then trying to have sex with Netflix.
I'll leave you with this.