The problem with mainstream films and media
Why modern films are so repetitive and boring
It is no secret that movie-watching is an increasingly unpopular form of leisure. Going to the movie theater is as infrequent as it has ever been, and not only due to the unexpected emergence of Covid-19 and the ensuing restrictions – ticket sales for move theaters had been on the decline since 2005 according to The Numbers, a statistics service that tracks American box office. Many films that come out simply do not attract that many people, even though huge blockbusters are aggressively promoted all the time. The answer to this increasing disinterest must lie in the films themselves.
The case against franchised films
Martin Scorsese, the director of successful and acclaimed films like Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, made a scathing comment in 2019 about Marvel, the company that produces the highest-grossing movie franchise of our time. He said that he does not consider these films to be “cinema”. These comments were incredibly inflammatory, stirring up the community of Marvel fans who considered Scorsese’s comments to be pretentious and elitist. From my point of view there is something that is just off with modern franchise films and media. The vast majority of films nowadays are adaptations of comic books, previous films or a book. They all follow the same basic patterns of storytelling, while trying to jam in as much crowd-pleasing content as possible.
I recently started watching the series Obi-Wan Kenobi, based on the Star Wars franchise. Though I have largely ignored the newer films, I liked the films growing up and I have a lot of respect for the original films and their mythology. The first Star Wars movie was a primitive production by today’s standards. The concept of the film was conceived by only one person, George Lucas, and all the elements of the film were part of his single vision. He was inspired by Western movies and adventure serials from the 50s and 60s to try to create something new and exciting with Star Wars. He wanted to rekindle the sense of fantasy and adventure from these films, and went through countless drafts and a very troubled production process to get it done. The budget was not very high for a blockbuster film, there were disputes in the filmmaking process and the filming was relocated several times due to complications. The expectation throughout the filming process was that the project was bound to be a failure. When the movie was finally released, it was an unexpected success and it became a cultural phenomenon and the highest-grossing film of all time in that moment. George Lucas’s vision was brought forward and executed thanks to his filmmaking crew and those ideas tapped into the hearts and minds of the audience. It created characters that today are iconic and it had a sense of adventure and romance in its set designs, its soundtrack, its setting, its special effects and its mystical adventure story which were all groundbreaking for its period in mainstream films.
This Kenobi series pales in comparison and has none of the appeal of Star Wars despite being part of the same franchise. Only three episodes in the show is already recycling characters from the other films, it takes no time to establish a new story and it immediately goes into settings and story elements that we have already seen before. It is only trying to appeal to the already existing devotion of the fans instead of creating any new interest, which is an incredibly boring and repetitive tactic. It is also unsustainable.
It is no wonder whatsoever that nobody is excited for these “new” media products. And Martin Scorsese is right, to call this “cinema” would be to endow it with the tag of being a creation brought forward by the vision of an artist, and it is the exact anathema of originality and individuality in art.
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