Anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking/drinking/eating refined sugar etc. knows how difficult it is to remove something addictive from your life. Companies know exactly what makes us return to their products time and time again, which components will make the most people search out their particular brand of sweet, temporary dopamine rush.
Mainstream entertainment, especially movies and tv, are no different. And what’s more mainstream than a Hollywood blockbuster starring your current celeb-of-the-month?
I have recently finally finished the last season of The Vampire Diaries and was the clear opposite of surprised by the ending. Predictable, overly-dramatic (cue the sappy music) and so incredibly addictive. If you’ve seen one CW or Freeform show, you’ve seen them all. And yet, they keep being made and they keep being immensely popular. Vampire Diaries ran for 8 seasons. Supernatural has vastly overstayed its welcome (#sorrynotsorry). Even finished shows like Pretty Little Liars are getting spin-off continuations. Give or take some fantasy-related plotpoints, it’s all the same.
Not only that, it’s also all undeniably American in its portrayal of culture, conflict and characters. US entertainment may have its upsides. But if I have to see another Lacrosse-playing dumb as dirt high school bully or a cop working together with an unlikely partner who makes a quippy remark every 5 seconds, my brain is going to melt out of my ears. As much as we want to pretend as though shows like Glow or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have that “special something” to spice up the ever so mind-numbing tv lanscape, they don’t. Just listen to some of the ridiculous dialogue.
I could name at least 40 shows where the main character is furious but chooses the flattest tone to say some poignant final words just to show what a goddamn tough-as-nails bitch they are. We’ve been there, we’ve seen that, and we’re not impressed.
I’m sick of the same old plot twists.
I’m done with the tired tropes and stereotypes.
I couldn’t care less about the near identical motivations, expressions and performances.
And most of all I have nothing but contempt for American remakes.
Death Note, Oldboy, Skins, Delivery Man, The Upside, Gost in the Shell, The Red Band Society – all those US “re-interpretations” are so much worse than the originals. There is absolutely no need to remake these perfectly fine films and shows, many of which were barely released a few short years prior. I have lamented my disdain for the lack of originality and, more strikingly, the lack of quality in US remakes before and those points still stand.
However, there’s more to my decision to give up US entertainment for the rest of the year. Hollywood movies and US American shows have long established a near absolute monopoly in the global market. And I couldn’t tell you one instance where a monopoly has been a positive thing. Just look at Disney and the tactics with which they are able to either sue or completely undercut their supposed competition. The “just throw money at it” mentality paired with quantity-over-quality filmmaking disgusts me to no end.
Of course, there are certainly aspects of the entertainment industry from other parts of the planet that have absolutely atrocious practices and are just as bad *cough* K-pop labels *cough* But the entire point of challenging myself to watch less mainstream US entertainment is that I want to be a more conscious consumer. Not necessarily because of any brainwash-conspiracies but rather because I, personally, feel a lot better if I engage in more mindful, ethical and selective consumption of media and aspects of different cultures that inevitably come with it.
Art is supposed to expand your horizon or stir up emotions or inspire new viewpoints. By watching/listening to/reading slight variations of the same things, that doesn’t happen. So here’s to roughly 3 months of variety. And here’s to hopefully learning something new in the process!