Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is it too early to start hating the RoboCop remake?

Over at the wonderful website Unleash the Fanboy, I have posted a longish essay about the upcoming RoboCop remake/reboot/reimagining/whatever it is going to be, in relation to fandom. The film is still shooting, and already some fans hate the movie. They really do.

Here is a sample from the opening, to get you interested, hopefully:

The original RoboCop is a science fiction classic. It's an almost perfect blend of satire, action, gruesome violence, and slapstick comedy. It spawned two or three sequels (I lost track -- check IMDb if you're really curious), a television show, an ongoing comic book series, and a comic book miniseries written by the great Frank Miller and drawn by the great Walt Simonson in which the title character took on The Terminator.

Of course it was going to be rebooted. Or, remade. Or reimagined. Or whatever you want to call it. That's what they do in Hollywood. The kids who loved RoboCop have grown up and are now working at movie studios and writing scripts. They want to celebrate what they loved. By remaking it. By extending the life of that intellectual property, just like they do in comic books.

However, it turns out that some of the kids who loved RoboCop also grew up to moderate message boards and run fandom websites. And what they do is rush to judgment about their favorite intellectual property. The "creative" people are celebrating that intellectual property they loved by remaking it. The "fans" are celebrating that intellectual property they loved by offering withering attacks and/or withering praise, based on whatever the conventional wisdom happens to be at the time.

Setting that conventional wisdom is often a major accomplishment for a fan. If a film turns out to be a "classic," then you look and feel really smart for saying so as early as possible. Take for example the case of The Dark Knight Rises. Most fans had already made up their minds before that film came out that it was going to be an epic film experience. It was, we kept being reminded, the most anticipated film of the year (check out this list, which also included the Total Recall remake, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, both of which set the world on fire. and the G.I. Joe sequel, which was actually pushed back to 2013-- which means that film will now have almost two years worth of anticipation behind it). In fact, last year, DKR actually won a Scream Award for "Most Anticipated Movie," which might be the most important award ever given to any film. It's not an award for quality, it's an award for what we expect of the quality.

And at advance screenings, the thunder of applause could be heard drowning out everything else. Except, of course, the sounds of fans making death threats and vituperations against critics who were too stupid to recognize the greatness of a movie that many of them had yet to actually see.

Many people are worried that the upcoming RoboCop remake will not give the intellectual property the respect that it deserves.

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