In The Armchair

Out of Ideas?

Posted in Movies and Entertainment by Armchair Guy on July 21, 2010

It’s pretty harsh to say that cheating and plagiarism is nowadays part of India’s core identity, but it’s true.  Institutionalized cheating in nearly every examination is just the tip of the iceberg.  Our newspaper reporters simply read various other newspapers to make up their report. Fashion fads are copied from the West.  Students will defend exam cheating in debates, and talk openly and boastfully about their cheating exploits.  But the most visible aspect of India’s xerox culture is plagiarism in visual media.  We copy most successful TV programmes from the West.  We copy music.  We copy storylines.  We shamelessly copy entire scenes, camera angles and all, even if you’re one of the biggest directors.  Bollywood takes plagiarism to new heights (and new lows).  See here for the tip of the iceberg.

But it’s not just India that’s running out of original ideas.  America is, too.  It’s not quite as bad in Hollywood.  They’re still trying pretty hard, putting out a variety of content.  But not much of the new content is hugely successful.  A really good new concept is a rare thing.  (The last one I can think of is Shrek.)  More and more, they’re turning to unoriginal content.  In Hollywood they don’t plagiarize — because that’s just a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Hollywood nowadays prefers to bring out sequels to existing movies, feeding off the success of the first installment.  They adapt bestselling books.  And comics.  Then they begin remaking old movies and TV series, crossing over from TV to the big screen and vice versa.  This trend seems to be on the rise.  In the last few years, we’ve seen the Batman movies, Phantom, Iron Man, Superman, Spider Man, Watchmen, Flash Gordon in the super-hero genre.  TV crossovers to the big screen include Star Trek and the A-Team.  Star Wars has gone to TV.  Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings come from popular books. I’ve heard about ERB’s Barsoom series being turned into movies. The list goes on and on.

Could it be a function of the rising costs of doing business in a competitive entertainment industry?  Since incidental costs are high, it’s safer to bet on something tried, tested, and known to be widely popular than a new concept that might bomb completely.

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