5 Overused Themes that Need a Break

Sun 02.06.11 | 7 comments

An audience is a fickle creature. There is a fine line between giving an audience just enough of that certain something, leaving them wanting more and then completely overdoing it. Oh wait. No there isn’t. The line is about a mile wide. It’s the difference between Boba Fett’s sparse appearance in Return of the Jedi and his ham-fisted inclusion in Attack of the Clones. It is amazing to watch an audience turn from absolute adoration to abhorrence. Here is a list of subjects that have become so completely over-saturated, that they barely make sense any more.

Now, just to clear things up: I do not hate any of these. In fact, I like a few of these subjects! If your hobbies include these in any way, I do not hate you (maybe). I am merely suggesting that we just let them rest for a bit before you drain every last drop of blood from your favorite subject. Still don’t get it? Just sit at your desk. Now say the word “the” over and over. By the 50th or 60th time, it should have no meaning and just sound like gibberish. Just like the following.

Steampunk

Although I enjoy steampunk, it is probably not for the reasons most people do. I just love watching a bunch of nerds attach gears to themselves and awkwardly pose for photos. It’s hilarious. On occasion, there is a costume out there that even impresses me, so I am not entirely heartless. However, steampunk keeps appearing in the media as an excuse to mix subject A with subject B. Want to mix in cowboys and sci-fi? Steampunk Cowboys. Think Aristotle should fight vampires? Steampunk Philosophizers. This trend culminates to a horrid point with Steampunk Palin. Simply plugging in Steampunk SUBJECT X, demonstrates that you have little more creativity than a blender.

Zombies

This one pains me to write, because I do love zombies. I have discussed potential zombie apocalypse plans with friends. One of my favorite movies is 28 Days Later. I love The Walking Dead, both the comic and the TV show. I am horrible, I know. As much as I enjoy the concept and genre, I am sick to death of seeing it crammed into places it doesn’t need to be. We don’t need a half-assed zombie mode in Call of Duty or “hey me too!” zombie game-types thrown in our adventure games. The world doesn’t need 3,000 B-movies a year with a shared plot that consists of “zombies are cool, what if they were pirates/Nazis/strippers?” No one needs 200 custom, silk screened  T-shirts with some variation of “I [brain] zombies” on it. Back in the day, Romero used zombies as a metaphor for crushing consumer culture and now the situation is becoming almost literal (sans rotting flesh).

Star Wars

I don’t even know where to begin. Television shows, stop using Star Wars as a crutch for your dialog. Comedians, you have made every Star Wars joke ever. George Lucas, please don’t release the entire Star Wars series in 3D. Please. Oh, you’re going to anyway, aren’t you? We’ll touch on that later.

We have completely tapped out the stories, costumes, designs, concepts, and themes of Star Wars; between TV shows, movies, re-releases, re-edits, books, comics, references, jokes, and everything in between. We’re trying to make orange juice out of the rind now. Nothing is ever going to recapture the whimsical glory of the original movies, but everything can damage it. Rather than dumping more and more content on the public, Lucas should go into reclusion. There should be no official Star Wars products released. Not even a set of Episode IV marbles. Hell, no one should even talk about Star Wars for a few years. Then, maybe, we can finally have time to forget the crap Lucas has put out and begin pining for the series again.

Hey, Remember This?

If your only gimmick is that you make references to things other people have seen before, you need to stop. This seems to describe 90% of “geek culture” (and Family Guy jokes). We get it. You also know about a thing we know about too. That’s great. The problem with this is that now pop culture seems to just be a reflection of last decade’s pop culture. What will happen in a few years? Will next decade’s pop culture become like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a…

This doesn’t just apply to referencing something that happened, but also with adding your own little twist to it too. A gritty, real life Mario? That’s never been seen before. Abraham Lincoln is a vampire slayer now? Let’s mix in Cthulu and Sense and Sensibility! You did it, you simultaneously diluted Jane Austen and H.P. Lovecraft. This trend culminates to a horrid point with Steampunk Palin.

3D Movies

Much like my ex-girlfriend, this was yet another thing I loved, until I couldn’t escape it. When they started reintroducing 3D movies a few years ago, I loved them. Those neat little glasses, things flying at your face, it was such a neat novelty. Seems someone forgot to tell movie studio executives that once you make a novelty the norm, the luster wears off. Now it seems every other movie is in 3D, many being filmed and written specifically to be released in that format. Not only does this drive up the price of movie tickets, but it also fills our rivers and chokes our dolphins with discarded RealD 3D polarized plastic movie glasses.

The debate as to whether 3D is even worth the price of admission keeps bouncing back and forth, but here’s how I see it: We pay more for a gimmick that basically adds almost nothing of value to a movie. When you leave a 3D movie, do you even remember that it was 3D? If it weren’t for the uncomfortable plastic glasses resting over my eyes, making me sweat (yes, my eyes sweat), I usually stop noticing any 3D effects come the midway point of any movie. And maybe it’s just me, but the best I can say for the majority of 3D movies I have seen is “At least it was shiny.” Plus it distracts from the plot and stuff.

Just to reiterate, I don’t actually hate any of these ideas, subjects, or themes. In fact, I have a place in my stupid, nerd heart for all of them. I wear geeky, referential t-shirts. I own several volumes of Marvel Zombies. I have read a Star Wars book (I’m sorry, mom). I am just suggesting (demanding) that we let topics rest and regain strength before we beat them completely into the ground. These topics aside, they are just symptoms of a bigger disease. We need to contribute to a pop culture that does more than remixes and mash-ups.

In a similar vein, Patton Oswald wrote an article for Wired that says anything I could ever say and more. It’s tonight’s recommended reading and I expect either a 1,000 word reflective essay or a 500 word confession/suicide note on my desk by tomorrow morning.

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    7 Comments

    • Carl done said:

      Agreed. Especially with 3-D movies. I can’t see 3-D movies because I’m blind in one eye but Hollywood thinks from here on out I should sit through them and suffer because everyone else can.

      I understand the concept and how engaging it could be, but lets be honest, most of the stuff they release isn’t even worth putting on the screen in the first place, let alone in 3-D.

    • Jeff Blood done said:

      Yeah the 3-D is stupid…All it does is make movies cost 12+ bucks…It’s not even 3D technically…all it is, is a depth of field change.

      Star Wars is totally overused…The new TV show..Not to mention the family guy episodes and robot chicken..Don’t get me wrong they were hilarious..but still overused..Case in point the most recent commercial for VW Pasat..The kid in the Vader outfit trying to use te force on everything…I don’t want to even imagine how much money Lucas is making off this shit…

    • Travis done said:

      Will next decade’s pop culture become like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a…

      I’m going to blame it on the internet.

      Cultures used to be separated. Chinese had their own rituals and so did the Egyptians. As people traveled more, cultures started mixing together. America is a prime example.

      Even America has it’s own localized subcultures though. I think that the internet breaks down the last barrier that kept all these different cultures apart; Distance.

      The floodgates have opened. Inundated with all this material we’ve become overwhelmed and lost the ability to think straight. Right now, we’re just photocopying. Much like having a blank canvas in front of you, it’s hard to know where to start when all of these meaty bits can be chopped up and re-mixed so easily. Like a painting though, the more work that gets put into it, the better it’ll be.

      (This is Travis re-telling of the piece written by Patton Oswald for Wired.)

    • Angela done said:

      I don’t mind when movies are filmed in 3-D: it looks neat, and in the case of films like Avatar it’s gorgeous enough to distract from the boring plot. I love it when movies use it as an enhancement rather than a gimmick, like with Toy Story 3.

      But I hate -hate hate hate hate hate – when directors decide to slap 3-D on a movie that wasn’t filmed that way. Because then it looks like shit. Dark, blurry shit. (Which, I guess, is fine, when the movie’s a travesty like The Last Airbender. Wasn’t gonna hate it more than I already did, why not put some terrible 3-D on it.)

      Oh my God, Steampunk Palin, KILL IT. O_O (Hey, Sarah Palin, another thing people need to stop talking about.)

      • HP done said:

        The problem is that it is very rare that movies actually use 3D to enhance anything. There are the occasional gems, but usually it is just tacked on to raise ticket prices. I can forgive Avatar because they created all this new technology just to make that movie.

        I am now also officially sick of talking about or typing the word “3D.”

    • Josh/HW done said:

      THis post is great for all the aspects you have brought up. I also want to say this site looks great and that I am envious.
      -Josh/HW (your neighbor near Colborne)

      • HP done said:

        Hey rapper dude! Thanks for checking out the site. Keep in mind that I can totally hook you up with a nice theme.

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