Americanization: respecting or killing its source material?

Americanization: respecting or killing its source material?

Today’s movies and television shows are some of the best ever made for our viewing pleasure, but there is a strange percentage of these shows and films that seem strangely familiar, and for good reason.  They’ve been made before!

Remakes seem to be everywhere these days, with a broad range of quality ranging from terrible (The Wicker Man) to better than the original (The Thing). But recently a new trend in remakes is taking something made for a foreign country like England or Japan, and remaking the source material to better fit an American audience.

This has been happening in Hollywood for a long time, whether you were aware of it or not, with films like The Departed and The Ring recreating films from East Asia, and television shows like the office taking their premise from their foreign originals. But recently this trend has been trending upward, and it doesn’t look to be ending any time soon.

Just last year we had movies remaking Japan’s Godzilla and All You Need Is Kill (titled Edge of Tomorrow in U.S.) and on the small screen Broadchurch was embarrassed by the American adaptation Gracepoint.broadchurch

edge of tomorrow            One of the reasons that these adaptations usually fail (but not always) is because the original source material was written with certain expectations from the audiences. This is nothing new and is inherently in every work of fiction ever made by man. For instance in the Guardians of the Galaxy earlier this year there was a particular joke that left me floored about the American painter Jackson Pollock, which is something that the writers expected the audience to know and understand, but for people in foreign countries this joke would probably go over the audiences’ heads.

Most American remakes of these shows, movies, and books completely disregard these cultural influences, leaving a noticeable hole in the immersion that these pieces of entertainment are trying to achieve.

Senior Doyle Higgins view on the Americanization of his favorite Japanese source material is that the original is always better. Higgins did not elaborate any further onto why he preferred the original, but it is a feeling that is shared among other Elder students that enjoy anime and manga from Japan.

luther         Of course Japan isn’t the only country whose source material is getting hijacked, England has had this done to them for years. Shows like the office, Broadchurch, and (later this year) Luther. These shows are brilliant, myself being a big fan of Luther in particular, but I can say that a large part of the atmosphere of Luther in particular is the bleak attitude that hangs over cloudy and cold London, an atmosphere that I doubt can be properly replicated here in the states.

With all of these negatives ruining most American remakes of foreign stories it is sometimes important to know when to leave things alone, but it can also result in something great. The office and Edge of Tomorrow are two good examples of foreign source material (British and Japanese respectively) because they kept true to the core aspects of what made the original great while changing just enough to make it more palatable for American audiences.

These remakes can be good, they can be bad, they can be a proper retelling of a story or a complete abomination, but one thing is for certain: they are here to stay. With remakes of seven films and television shows already in production has become apparent that this kind of cinema is here to stay and all we can do is hope that our favorite pieces of entertainment aren’t soiled forever.