Nowadays, one is required to provide pop culture credentials before writing an article of this nature. So, let me begin by saying that I’m a hardcore fan of Ridley Scott, Giger and the Alien franchise. I enjoy sci-fi and consider myself fairly well-versed in the conventions of the genre. Whether or not this gives my article validity is up to the reader.
I’ve recently watched Prometheus and found it brilliant – classic horror/sci-fi. I see that it earned a lot of ire online at the time of its release.
Perhaps this kind of movie doesn’t appeal to movie-goers that have been raised on nothing but cookie-cutter sequels and tired reboots. Makes you wonder how today’s audience would respond to various genre classics, had they been released in this day and age.
We are living in a world where pop culture consists of copies of copies of copies. I am not against homages, or even the frenetic pop culture collage of movies like Kill Bill, because the end result is original. As a movie, Kill Bill stands on its own merits.
But when something is simply a cobbled together collection of pop culture references and thefts from better movies, video games, and shows, and is applauded for this, you have to wonder if modern audiences have been trained to prefer the recognizable to the original.
There’s nothing wrong with working within the framework of the familiar. Comics such as Planetary, League Of extraordinary Gentlemen, and Oxymoron have done it very well. If you can take archetypes of a genre and reinvent or invert them to support your themes, you have succeeded in doing something admirable.
But does every generation (or what counts as a pop culture generation, which seems to be every 3-5 years) really need ongoing, barely differentiated reboots of the same franchises, or sequel after sequel that water down the thematic impact of the original?
In my mind, Prometheus did something bold, because it explored the extended universe and underpinning mythology of the Alien universe while offering the audience something new. Ridley Scott managed to craft a movie that stands on its own and also expands the Alien universe.
It seems some of the online backlash was due to the fact that fans didn’t find this familiar enough. This particular group would have preferred 2 hours of revisiting the “Greatest Hits” collection of previous Alien movies.
A copy of a copy of a copy….
Fan interaction and feedback is a valuable part of the pop cultural landscape. It’s what prevents pop culture from becoming static. And yet, it can also limit the future of various franchises.
There is a portion of fandom (a small, but extremely vocal portion) who feel that they should be rewarded for their loyalty to a certain franchise by being given what they want.
And what they want, it seems, is familiarity.