Monday, January 30, 2012

The Decline of Originality?

I'm pretty firmly anti-elitism of any sort.  So the vague snobbery inherent in claims that movies are increasingly derivative grates at me.

I see it said with some frequency in a variety of ways that Hollywood has become decreasingly innovative.

Not every book written before the twentieth century became a classic.  Not every movie we produce today will be remembered a hundred years from now.  And most of the classics we know today are merely -better written- imitations of stories which were written before them; quite frequently entire stories were ripped wholesale from other authors.  Shakespeare is the best-known example of this, but was hardly the only one;

Comparing the best stories produced in the entire history of mankind to the best stories produced in the past century, we actually get a very flattering view of the past century.

The reason history looks better than today is that time and public opinion has swept away the original - and generally inferior - versions.  It has swept away all stories which could not stand up to the test of time.

But favoring those things which have long been favored isn't a risky operation - whereas to declare a thing good which has not yet been so measured is indeed quite risky.

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