Allan's Philosophy Podcast Headline Animator

Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook #30 - The Classics Conundrum

Wow the big three one! This whole blog thing has been awesome and I'm so glad that you guys have been reading. The inspiration for this note came from a discussion that we had during English class last week. Are originals better than the sequels? This seems to be a timeless discussion and goes across almost endless mediums. One of the areas where it is most widely discussed is through the media and especially the entertainment industry. We always see like in the movies sequels and trilogies and we usually are divided in our views on what is better, the original or the sequel. This note is to describe the different views and factors that apply to both and you make the decision which one you like better and then decide which one will be classics or not.

So originals are what we know as the first and the starting place for possible sequels to be built upon. It sets the foundation for more to come and while it doesn’t necessarily have any sequels of its own it clears the path for more to come in the future. While nowadays nothing is completely original because it uses different aspects of the things that came before it. I can't really find anything that is completely original because it usually takes some aspects of another things that came before, no matter how minute. In a sense everything is a sequel in some way or another, that borrows like techniques or styles from previous works. Regardless of this there are still originals made from everything we know. From songs to movies to even legislative laws anything can become a classic.

To be a classic it requires several things. One of the main requirement is that it is to transcend time. Regardless of the world's ever changing events, classics should be ever prevalent yet still be unchanged by current events. It is a delicate balance that comes with becoming a classic and can be hard to achieve that status. I don't really know what it takes to become a classic because I haven't written a bestselling novel or multimillion blockbuster that was recognized as a classic. Maybe it takes perfect timing, being in an era that was willing to accept your ideas and opinions. There have been works that have been criticized as being ahead of their time because their environment wasn’t willing to accept their views or it wasn’t the right time for the world to relate to those ideas. I read somewhere that songs like Kanye West's Love Lockdown and Daniel Powter's Bad Day were popular because they were made at a time when the nation could relate and it encompassed the values of that time. Or maybe it has to deal with luck and just appealing to a highly popular critic like Oprah and then the nation carries on that view and then your own views become idealized as a classic.

Classics take time and an audience before they can attain that status. Some works have been acknowledged as being "instant classics" but I think that is a paradox in and of itself. I think you need time to determine if something is classic-worthy because I believe the ultimate nemesis of a classic is time. Things years later must still be loved without having the spotlight. Anything you can think of that has been called a classic widespread still can be popular by those who feel it is classic without actually being the latest thing on the news. There are things out there called cult classics that haven’t necessarily been mainstream but still are revered by those who appreciate its values and ideas. My dad brought up this movie called Pulp Fiction that didn’t necessarily get rave reviews or widespread attention but laid the foundation for those involved in its existence. John Travolta played a role in this movie and it helped propel him into the fame game after he had been gone from Hollywood for a while before Pulp Fiction's creation. Classics are staples and milestones that represent a sense of style and can capture the essence of what was going on at the time. For this reason they might not, but not always, be relevant anymore with current events but still find some way to relate and capture an audience with its greatness. The audience is one of the most important parts when creating a classic because you need to build a fan base that regards you as a classic. Like with Pulp Fiction, you don't necessarily need to have a large audience but a dedicated one that truly believes in the values displayed in your work. On the other end of the spectrum, there are works that were monumental and spurred attention worldwide allowing the public to get a better sense of its values and therefore have a better chance of attaining classic status. You also have to be aware of the "fad factor" that is just representing a temporary trend that is successful short term but nowhere close to being classic worthy. You can see even today on the radio how many artists only have the potential of being one hit wonders. They are great at representing the values and ideas at the time of its inception but can't hold up down the road and can sometimes fall into the abyss of lost works. This is where sequels come in to continue on the legacy of the original and optimally create buzz and excitement for the original in the process.

One of the major flaws I see people make is assume that originals equate to classics and this is false. I believe that sequels can also become classics but it requires more work because originals lay the foundation for the sequels to be built upon so the credit usually goes to the original. Depending on the way you look at it, sequels can have the shorter end up the stick by having the responsibility of living up to expectations created by the original. They must recapture the audience with at least the same effectiveness of maybe even better in order to be viewed as being successful. They can't just expect to rehash the same material and be considered great again because one of the main components of a classic is its time resistance and time has changed since when the sequel was made. As with a lot of things, there are exceptions to this rule as there have been countless Rocky Balboa movies made that have been relatively successful but not necessarily the same amount of success as the original. While time was the enemy of a classic, hype is the arch-villain to a sequel. Sequels have the sometimes insurmountable task of overcoming all the hype that can follow a classic. People want to believe that the next rendition will only improve upon the first and get better and better increasing the hype level to unreachable heights. By setting expectations too high, you will only end up in disappointment in your attempts to piggyback on a classic. A good example of this is the Star Wars saga that reached almost unheard of levels of success leading it to become a classic in its own right. The hype coming from the originals as well as the hiatus George Lucas had between the makings of the original 3 movies, basically set up the next 3 movies for failure. Times had changed since the 70's making it so the next 3 movies had to find their own niche in order to achieve admiration and respect comparable to the originals. They didn’t live up to expectations as it was almost impossible to and therefore are looked down upon compared to the original trilogy.

The origins of your work can play a factor in its ability to become a classic. Coming from underground or mainstream can in a way be a predetermined fate. I believe that people in general are moving inclined to want an underground work become successful and rise to fame because it represents hope and epitomizes the rags to riches story. It instills this sense of hope in people because it shows them that you don't have to be rich or a well known corporation in order to build a classic. The perfect example of this phenomena is The Blair Witch Project shot in Fredrick County with only a camcorder that can be considered a classic in its style that inspired future movies like Cloverfield. It had a budget of around 500,000 dollars that is basically pocket change compared to the expenditures of movies like Avatar which cost $237 million to produce. Your origins probably don't play as big a role though, when compared to the other factors that do. I believe the biggest factors in making a classic are the themes and views present in your work that will make or break you in your attempts to achieve success and possibly the status of a classic.

Now I want to try and capture the essence of the conversation that took place during English class between people like Abby, Angie, Joel, Yechun, Kevin, Andrew, Jimmy, and me. I don't remember how this conversation started but we had a discussion about the different mediums that classics can be in and how that can affect their success and meaningfulness. The two main mediums we were discussing were between books and videogames and how the two affect the creation of classics. I was talking about how time can't affect the content of a book as much as say a video game because with time new technology is made and new game play is thus made available while with books they have mostly stayed the same in form as the years have progressed. Kevin made a good point about how the styles and such can change and now I have changed my opinion. I have realized that time can affect all mediums thus changing the way classics are made. As the world changes so do the values and those are represented in the writing of books that can then lay the foundation for similar styled books in the future. The same applies to video games and almost everything else where the environment affects the different aspects of a classic and thus paves the road for future sequels.

I believe that the classic conundrum is a touchy topic because like many other things, it is really based upon perspective when everything is said and done. To gain an audience you must appeal to them through means like ethos, logos, and pathos and by doing so it is completely subjective to the values of the public. While you might find a movie about love not appealing your neighbor might and that is why it is so hard to judge what is a classic and not. There are some timeless themes and such that can be attributed to the success of works such as good vs. evil and with Romeo and Juliet, two lovers that are torn because of factors like feuding families. In a way classics don't exist equally in the eyes of others because everyone doesn’t have the same interests and values. You must decide for yourself what you find is a classic and if a sequel is better than the original or and that is the conundrum.

-Allan Nicholas

No comments:

Post a Comment