The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

The Beacon’s Belief: How Hollywood exploits childhood

Believe it or not, there was a time where cinema was more than reboots and sequels. Most movies that made their way into our current pop culture started with an original screenplay. Directors and writers risked taking a chance on a script lacking a pre-existing audience, yet it is these stories that end up becoming the classics we all know and love. Unfortunately, it seems this originality and creativity have fizzled out. All Hollywood has been shuffling out as of late has been long-awaited (typically unnecessary) sequels or reboots.

The repackaging of plots with iconic characters, stories, and pre-existing plot lines shows a lack of new content. Instead of writing a script with an original premise, Hollywood has begun to reuse the same characters, character dynamics, and plots. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The majority of these films lack what set the original apart in the first place, reducing them to nothing but a cheap cash grab. Hollywood manipulates a film’s built-in audience, solidifying their profit stream no matter the movie’s quality. There is no need to improve or add; they know the formula works, which leads to a stifling of imagination. 

Though yes, some reboots and sequels are done incredibly well and even may outshine the original, but still, the lack of new content from Hollywood seems marginally disproportionate to the release of franchise continuation. That creates less of an incentive for these writers to produce quality work as they know people will watch regardless of their connection to the original. In other words, we get lazy screenwriting. Typically, nothing new is added to revitalize the film or series. Some reboots are merely shot-for-shot remakes with better CGI. I’m talking to you, Jon Favreau.  

For those who do not know, Jon Favreau is an actor and director. Some may recognize him as “Happy” from Iron Man but he also directed the live action versions of The Jungle Book and The Lion King. His version of The Lion King was met with harsh criticism as it is an animated shot-for-shot remake of the original in 1994; it has no personality of its own, yet contains none of the spirit of its predecessor. And currently he is branching off the Star Wars franchise and is directing The Mandalorian. 

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These films still make an overwhelmingly large profit despite mediocre reviews. Maybe this is because movies with previous success have a built-in audience that will stick with the series due to their childhood connection. It plays on the nostalgia factor. The nostalgic factor is an emotional response triggered from a reminder of happy memories, bringing about that bittersweet feeling, knowing that the same experience we so wish to relive is out of reach. The audience doesn’t want to leave their beloved characters behind. They grow bonds to the story and care about what happens, so no matter what, they will watch anything related to the original to keep that connection. 

It doesn’t matter if its a spin-off within the same world with different characters, a sequel following the kids of the original main characters, more spin-offs we can count, a movie to TV show adaptation, multiple prequels no one asked for, a live-action or a reboot with a new cast and the same story—the nostalgia factor ensures there will be profit. Hollywood willingly takes advantage of its audiences, knowing they will watch a film purely driven by their desire to reconnect to any meaningful part of our childhood, profiting off a market of nostalgia. 

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The Beacon’s Belief: How Hollywood exploits childhood