Wars, Rings, Trek, and the Death of the Artist

Everything old is new again! Nostalgia sells, and like any good business, Hollywood is banking on your childhood like never before. Instead of the innovative storytelling we grew up with in the ’80s, we are inundated with sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots. Disney gave us new Star Wars, Amazon’s Rings of Power brought us back to Middle Earth, and She-Ra and He-Man are back too! And look, the entire cast of Enterprise-D returns in Paramount’s Picard! Hell, even Indiana Jones is making his fifth comeback. And Harrison Ford (God bless him) is 80!

But far more often than not, these retreads are met with skepticism, disappointment, and anger. MAGA-heads blame our changing cultural landscape and what they call “wokism.” Something is clearly missing here, but it isn’t a lack of white male leads.

The problem is simply this: it’s impossible to recreate someone else’s art. Only George Lucas can be George Lucas. Only Gene Roddenberry can be Gene Roddenberry. Everything we love about Disney, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, etc., came from a brilliant creative mind, and a vision sorely lacking from many of today’s retreads, when every storytelling decision is made by suits looking to maximize their profits. Big media companies commodify art for mass production—products devoid of nuance, or anything remotely challenging or controversial.

Business and art have made for strange bedfellows since the dawn of time. It’s a sad state of affairs that has been simmering in my brain for decades, and is no more evident or egregious—for me at least—than in Picard’s third season, when Paramount finally achieved its goal to turn its less profitable (and cerebral) Star Trek franchise into another check-your-brain-at-the-door Star Wars ripoff.

That’s pretty much the gist of it. But if you want to listen to me rant more about the death of the artist, click the link below.

You’ve been warned.

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