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Those who remember the past are condemned to remake it in some silly, woke fashion. No, that’s not the original George Santayana quote. It’s the Hollywood update as directors embrace the great wokening by redoing three movie classics and deliberately making them worse.
“Blackish” creator Kenya Barris is planning on redoing “The Wizard of Oz” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Not to be outdone, “Bend It Like Beckham” director Gurinder Chadha is doing the same to the Charles Dickens great “A Christmas Carol.”
Chadha told the British Parliament that she is spinning the story so she can push her political agenda. “My Scrooge is an Indian Tory who hates refugees,” she said. One assumes the reformed Scrooge will support open borders. He might as well get a job in the Biden administration.
And Barris has already re-raced “Cheaper by the Dozen.” So, his schtick is simply to take classic movies done by more-talented creators and redo them. He’ll probably redo “The Sound of Music” at some point. (I shouldn’t give him any ideas.)
Remaking classic characters either by race or gender or sometimes both has become so common in Tinsel Town that it’s almost a cliche. “South Park” made great sport of the concept when it race and gender swapped much of the cast.
Don’t believe me? We got the Scooby-Doo spinoff “Velma,” Ariel in the live-action version of “The Little Mermaid,” Sam Chisolm, the leader of “The Magnificent Seven,” Tinker Bell in the live remake of “Peter Pan,” the lead character of “Snow White,” her seven dwarves and many more.
“Velma” creator Mindy Kaling was unapologetic about her remaking or what is known as retconning the Scooby gang. “Hopefully you noticed my Velma is South Asian,” she said. “If people freak out about that, I don’t care.”
And then there’s what Variety described as Velma’s “still-forming adolescent queer identity.” In one of the episodes, the character who was originally part of a children’s cartoon, well, she pole danced for her father. I must have missed that episode of the original series.
The all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot wasn’t as offensive but it caused massive pushback from fans. Star Melissa McCarthy said she was shocked at the negative feedback. (Hint: She wasn’t. But it’s marketing.) “I don’t get the fight to see who can be the most negative and the most hate-filled. Everybody should be able to tell the story they want to tell. If you don’t want to see it, you don’t have to see it.”
The equally all-female “Ocean’s 8” spinoff of the “Ocean’s 11” franchise received some similar response, but the original wasn’t as beloved as original “Ghostbusters.” The same goes for “What Men Want,” which managed to both re-race and re-gender the lead character from Mel Gibson’s “What Men Want.” But it’s hardly a classic and no one cared.
The remakes typically did poorly because they were poorly done. And no amount of making them more woke could change that. “The Magnificent Seven” proved that doesn’t have to be the case. That remake gave us an all-star cast led by Denzel Washington. So not all of these examples turn to trash.
The liberal agenda isn’t the only reason Hollywood hacks are doing these updates. The Left Coast lacks talent and creativity to come up with new ideas. So, the goal now is to mine IP or intellectual property and redo it in ways that are cheap. If a studio owns a film, a book or a graphic novel, it’s easy to just redo it and hope to make a few bucks. Making each picture woke is the easy way to get the films funded.
What we’re seeing now is the reversal of Hollywood’s past discriminatory practices with new equally awful ones. For many decades Hollywood did not cast actors of color in roles, which led to some truly insane characterizations. Most notable was Mickey Rooney’s I. Y. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” More recently, there’s Johnny Depp as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger.”
Sure, Hollywood often redoes movies and recasts lead characters with name actors to get people to watch the update. Or because an actor or director pushed to make the film. Like Steven Spielberg’s poor imitation of “West Side Story.” But that’s no longer the only reason.
It’s the agenda that is chasing fans from the theater or the TV set. And some of the movies are so ridiculous that they are making international news.
Netflix entered the discussion with a four-part “documentary” called “Queen Cleopatra.” It starred Adele James, who The Washington Post describes as “Black and biracial.” The problem with that is it’s not how historians describe Cleopatra.
Especially in Egypt. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities released a statement declaring: “The Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Archaeology confirms that Queen Cleopatra was of light complexion and Hellenic (Greek) features.”
That didn’t stop executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith, because she claimed she wanted Cleopatra to “represent Black women.” An Egyptian lawyer is so upset he’s suing Netflix over what he refers to as “this crime.”
If mangling Egyptian history was really a crime, the UFO folks would be the first to be locked up. That doesn’t make the abuse of history acceptable. Smith is just treating Cleopatra like any other lead character in Hollywood and remaking her to fit the new narrative.
Whether they are fictional characters or real-life potentates, Hollywood creators should try coming up with some original ideas instead. But we all know they won’t.