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Published:March 27th, 2008 15:50 EST
Media Is The Masses: Reconstructive Imagery

Media Is The Masses: Reconstructive Imagery

By Sean Stubblefield

Nevermind-- for the moment-- complaints that Hollywood might be running out of or away from original story ideas. Remakes, re-imaginings and reboots are not necessarily, nor inherently, a bad thing, but also not representative or equivalent of their original source.

I am saddened and disappointed by the thought that so many of our youth today are exposed only to (often bad) re-creations and adaptations of older stories, with an impression or assumption that these re-tellings are consistent with the original (or worse, ARE the original). Like dismissing or substituting a book in favor of a movie version they aren`t the same thing. I wonder how much the young are being taught of stories past. Are they only aware of the new incarnations?

If so, that is as disheartening as seeing so many people confuse the Adam West version of Batman as the genuine article, and therefore have no idea what the character really is.

Not just youth, but anyone unfamiliar with the original story will see movies like Hitchhiker`s Guide, Batman Returns, Superman Returns, Transformers, Underdog... mistakenly believing that these are authentically representative. They may see a movie they consider lame, and make the error of thinking it was the story that is bad, rather than the movie. Directors like Michael Bay do their best to make movies that might seem lame into an action film to get you talking about the film."

The Celestine Prophecy, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Conversations With God, Hitchhiker`s Guide To The Galaxy, The da Vinci Code, Southland Tales... each of these are excellent books, but mediocre as movies (or more precisely, as they were re-constructed in recent movie versions).

I`m not against remakes or adaptations. As a story lover, I enjoy and advocate varied re-interpretations on stories; but I hope that people aren`t ignoring or ignorant of originals from the past, which might be lost in transcription. Such indiscretion is a subversion of our cultural history. Ignoring that past, recycling stories becomes a kind of ret-conning: rewriting or erasing history.

Regarding reboots-- as re-interpretations, they offer opportunity for alternative innovations.

In starting over, you may seek to unburden newer audiences from extensive back story.

But be careful to not cavalierly invalidate all that came before by dismissing original continuities, as if none of it really mattered or didn`t actually happen. Be aware that you risk cheating the audience of past stories by implying they and the creators have wasted their time, as well as cheating the original material through an impression or implication of being irrelevant or fraudulent. Maybe even punitively.

Define and present such alterations not as a replacement or do-over, but as a separate and distinct entity. Unless, of course, the re-set is revision designed as improvement or correction of the original.

There are stories (like Star Trek and Batman) whose mythos and core essence are much too developed, too familiar and too beloved to drastically or casually super-impose upon or pretend never happened. Too much time and effort has gone into creating these stories to so rudely and inconsiderately discard them because their internal histories are cumbersome; indeed, discarding because so much detail HAS gone into them. 

Reminder: If you have topic suggestions you`d like me to cover, please email me (subject heading "media").


Currently based in Houston Texas, Sean Stubblefield graduated Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television Production. A philosopher poet, Stubblefield has been writing non-fiction for 15 years, and has penned eight books to date. His first book, Paradox: A Journey Inside Out is available today at 

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