Posted by Curtis Westman on November 8, 2010
Let’s talk “travesty” for a second.
A lot of people are aware of my selfish views on the Americanization of foreign films, my unfaltering derision towards the finished products and my pretty senseless determination never to see them. Such was my feeling for Let Me In, despite the fact that it garnered great reviews and basically proved me wrong in every possible way, making me look like an incredible jackass. Well, whatever, I’m still not going to see it, and at this point it’s less about scruples and more of a war of attrition than anything else, because my scruples are way off in the distance next to a cactus somewhere with my accuracy and predictive reasoning.
So, let’s forget about Let Me In and talk about something else. Akira. Yes, that Akira. The anime that non-anime fans are allowed to watch under the pretense that it’s “art and shit.” The anime that brought adult-directed Japanese animation into the western eye and inspired countless awful convention costumes, posters and that fake unlicensed Zippo lighter I bought when I was 17.
In short, it was a pretty big deal.
When things from other countries (and especially in other languages) are big deals, though, it’s like American film studios salivate and wag their tongues and generally act like frat boys who’ve discovered that beer pong is a stellar way to get girls drunk. “If only we didn’t have to read this movie, though, then my transition into a puddle of pseudo-sentient gelatin would be complete!” they might say, trying desperately to scratch their balls with a stein duct-taped to each hand.
And they remake it, of course. But American audiences would never be able to understand how a Swedish character lives, breathes and acts — after all, that’s around the world. It barely exists. Instead, the remade film is Americanized, a catch-all term allegorizing the melting pot that turns a rich cultural tapestry into industrial slag.
Of course, you might argue, there are good Americanized films. The Magnificent Seven, Twelve Monkeys, et al. But those films did something different from their originals, and thus are value-added products. They’re derivative works in the least critical sense. They actually derive something new from the film they adapt.
Anyone can make a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho and sap all the life out of it, but they’re deluding themselves if they think it’s art. Anyone can pretend that New Mexico is more exciting and easier to identify with than snowy Sweden, but they’ve obviously never tried corn salsa.
So yes, in my opinion, Americanization is shit. I’ll never see Let Me In and I’ll never see the abominable planned remake of Akira regardless of whether or not absurd rumours about Zac Efron’s involvement are true.
Because, and you can take this prediction to the bank because I have a going success rate of about 0%, the movie is going to be shit regardless of whether or not it has Zac Efron attached.
P.S. Also shit: the fact that I used a “z” in “Americanization.” Bet you thought I didn’t notice.