I don’t know if it is a deliberate attack upon the iconic cultural memories of past generations or just a total disregard for learning about the past, but Hollywood film makers today seem not to care one whit about holding true to the original media characters from the past.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say they deliberately spit on these shows of the past, often taking what was a serious premise loved by many and transforming it into a horrible parody. Is it a form of rebellion? Does today’s generation of film makers loathe the memories of their parents and grandparents that much that they feel its necessary to drag the shows they loved through the mud, to trample upon beloved memories?
I think so. I find many recent attempts at “reboots” to be downright insulting and offensive. It’s as if the people involved never watched an episode of the show they are trying to recreate. Maybe they watched a clip on YouTube or read a Wikipedia entry, but they certainly didn’t study the show. Nor did they take the program’s meaning and impact at the time it aired into context.
In many cases it seems they took the name of the show, heard a few anecdotal bits about the show, then went on to deliberately create their own horrible caricature of the program.
They go for the laughs and a quick buck instead of a lovingly faithful adaptation.
The most recent example of this is Disney’s “The Lone Ranger.” This travesty doesn’t even have a Native American in the role of Tonto. Instead it has Johnny Drip running around in pancake makeup with a dead animal on his head. If Depp had credibility as an actor, its long since gone away. As a Native American friend of mine said, “What next? Is Depp going to put on black face and portray Richard Pryor?”
My ire comes from the fact that The Lone Ranger was a well-respected heroic western from both the days of Old Time Radio and then later as an action adventure in the early days of television, starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels (for you purists, John Hart was the Lone Ranger during the middle of its run from ’52-’54 during a dispute between Moore and the producers, but we usually don’t talk about that).
Fran Striker was the creative mind behind the original scripts of the Lone Ranger when it was on the radio. He also created the Green Hornet (supposedly a descendant of the Lone Ranger) and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. To me, the current movie is an insult to that great man’s memory.
Some interesting tidbits about the Lone Ranger. It was first a radio drama from 1933 until 1954. It was written primarily for children, sure, but half its audience was adults. About 2,956 episodes aired of the hit show. Compare that to The Simpsons (which seems to be what most of these current adaptations are sadly aimed at emulating: The Simpsons’ satirical nature) at 530 episodes. The Lone Ranger radio show has nearly 6 times as many episodes.
When it came to television in 1949, The Lone Ranger was the first western written specifically for the new medium and was ABC’s highest rated show during the early 1950s. It ran for 8 seasons.
I heard someone say, “Oh, so they ruined the Lone Ranger. What’s the big deal?”
I’ll tell you what the big deal is, if it was only the Lone Ranger I’d be upset but I wouldn’t feel compelled to write a lengthy diatribe about it. This isn’t an anomaly. It isn’t a one-time occurrence. It’s an on-going, series of insulting events.
As I said earlier, today’s film makers (heh, autocorrect made that “ill makers,” which seems very apropos), have consistently ruined good programs of old, have taken childhood memory after childhood memory and stomped on them.
Prior to the Lone Ranger they made insulting parodies of “The Green Hornet,” “Dark Shadows” (also with Johnny Depp), “Wild, Wild West,” “Starsky and Hutch.” “Dragnet,” “21 Jump Street” (oddly enough, without Depp even though he starred in the original show), and “The Last Airbender,” which though it doesn’t fit the criteria I had been using still deserves inclusion because most fans of the show were appalled at how little the movie resembled the original.
The thing is, these weren’t just badly done movies, they didn’t suffer from poor execution, or crash because of a lousy director, bad casting, or a low budget. Movies like that at least show the effort was made not to deliberately insult the fans. No, these movies purposely strayed from the original, often serious, premise to become a comedy.
The thing that boggles the mind is that the people who make superhero movies understand that if you treat the subject with respect and produce a quality product, people will come in droves and you’re going to make money hand over fist.
Show disrespect to your subject and the fans and you’ll end up like the Lone Ranger, with a projected loss of $150 million.
Why is that so hard to understand? In the last couple of decades I can count the number of faithful and respectful treatments of a remake on one hand, and still have my middle finger free to give Hollywood the bird they so richly deserve.