Monday, May 12, 2008

Go (away) Speed Racer, Go.

Yes, "Lost in Translation" really was terrible.

Much like the way they’ve taken total control of this country’s political process, the “old guard” of baby boomers who insist on doing things their antiquated way, will not let go of the entertainment empires that some of them so desperately hold on to in an attempt to convince themselves that they’re still relevant (or the notion that somehow they still don’t have enough money). At the same time in order to garner even a small modicum of success, younger players in the game are forced to play follow the leader and present creative empty calories as true cinematic work, either out of fear or greed (In Sophia's case however, she is just bad at it).

There’s a lot the American movie mechanism doesn’t know about Japan for that previously stated reason, they’re basically still stuck in decades past when it comes to what they think. Herein is a conundrum I am having then with reconciling the Speed Racer movie. Is it a blunt over-hyped Hollywood special effects blundering remake of a classic American TV show? Or is it actually a blunt over-hyped Hollywood special effects blundering remake of a Japanese Anime? Don’t kid yourself, because the answer to this question will only be known in the long term, as that long term will also be where the effects of said answer will be felt. “Anime” as a part of modern culture which has finally entrenched itself in American life, may just bee seen as only a tiny blip in cultural evolution by 2012, with Speed Racer part of the centerpiece of epic fail that destroyed its fragile foothold. Then again, this celluloid turd might not harm anime much and just go take its place in the ever growing group of shitty Hollywood remakes of TV shows (those shows were never really the way anyone remembers them, and the aforementioned old guard just likes to make them because it helps them feel relevant again, and hold on to their money by minimizing risk on something that's actually new. Could you imagine if someone today had tried to make the movie Alien in today's Hollywood? It would have been sidelined so fast by studio execs anxious to get Sigourney cast as Jane in a remake of The Jetsons alongside Will Ferrell as George and Lindsay Lohan as Judy, featuring cgi Scooby Doo as that stupid talking dog).

What the anime market doesn’t need right now are Hollywood remakes like this, and the disastrous results that they may bring. As with many things that come out of Hollywood, there is a right way and a wrong way to treat a property, but it is also important to remember that this difference between right and wrong rarely has any bearing on profitability, since the brain dead Uwe Boll is still out there making more money. It is hoped that the scenario of shitty movies being able to bring in any kind of profit will finally be behind us one day far in the future, BUT the anime market as it is now can not afford this to tarnish an already weak position, forcing anime back out of the American market back into obscurity. This scenario would make the entire scope of anime fandom in America just an asterisk in VH1’s undoubtedly already planned “I love the 00’s.”

We’ll have to hope for a few things if we really want to keep this market from shrinking back to the size it was at the beginning. The Speed Racer movie has to come and go, and the word “anime” should be distanced from it as much as possible. More importantly, we must hope that this does not usher in some morbid parade of the carcasses of truly good anime as remake after remake, starting with Voltron and going all the way through Lupan III and Ninja Scroll ending with a cinematic abortion that would be Michael Bay Presents: Ghost in the Shell. In the heyday of Anime as a consumer good, surviving such an onslaught might have been possible, but in these days of an anime market devalued by digital fansubs, it’s an economic execution with far reaching effects (no Michael, not those kind of “effects”).



psv said...

I wondered how it would fare, given the casting and the trailer alone.

I think just because the Matrix producers were attached to this that it won't be too closely associated with the original cartoon, if it all. It'll stand on its own merits (or lack thereof).

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