VOICES: The usefulness of movie remakes

Category:  Opinions
Monday, April 12th, 2021 at 11:08 PM

As our world continues to progress forward, older films are being remade with revised scripts and well-trained actors in attempts to make classic stories better adjusted to our times. The reaction to movie remakes depends on the film and how the director approached it, though the majority come out better or equal to the original.

It is an essential step to remake certain movies. The older versions may have been created in a time of hate, so more vulgar and socially unacceptable words are used. Comparing the language and belief system of our current society to just a few decades ago is astonishingly drastic. Filmmakers have a chance to correct some of these flaws.

For example, Stephen King has been known to use vulgar language and vivid detail when it comes to minority groups. This language and detail was on display in the original “It” novel, and while there’s multiple instances that likely wouldn’t be OK in today’s age, let’s focus on one in particular.

“It: Chapter Two," released in 2019, still shows the homophobic scene I’m thinking of. I won’t go into detail because the scene is quite graphic and brutal. Basically, a gay character, Adrian, gets torn apart by Pennywise after being attacked by a group of teens and thrown off a bridge.

It all depends on the circumstance, but scenes like this this can still be shown. I believe the original (the 1981 novel) handled it clumsily and haphazardly, especially with the language. It is not shown in the 1990 miniseries for those reasons. The modern movie version does keep the hate language, though the scene is adjusted to better suit today’s standards. For me, the novel was way too exaggerated and gory, which I guess is understandable for the horror genre, but it was highlighted that he was killed for being a flamboyant homosexual and it’s blatantly playing on stereotypes. The remake allowed the film crew to insert that scene and treat it as a trauma that audiences should witness. And what people don’t know is that Stephen King wrote this scene based on an actual event, and he just twisted it to fit his fictional world, according to Kaitlyn Reily of Refinery29. In real life, Charlie Howard, a gay man, was killed by a group of teens and thrown off a bridge, similar to what happens to Adrian.

Scenes like the Adrian Mellon appearance in “It” should be shown because these things do happen — of course, not in the sense of how gruesome it is, given its transposed to a horror movie. But violence does happen and that’s unavoidable. Be sensible and respectful when presenting those scenes though. Respect can come in the form of not over-exaggerating the crime and placing false stereotypes on those minorities. Hate crime happens in real life, so it shouldn’t be hidden from movies — the same goes for racism. Movies aren’t going to make those problems vanish, but perhaps they can show more people what the world is capable of.

Another common occurrence in film was casual racism and hurtful, often misleading stereotypes. Older movies are infamous for scenes of racism. Looking back, segregation and the majority of discrimination was eliminated (a term used loosely) by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it took years for state courts to enforce it. For example, “Dumbo” has a reference to the Jim Crow laws: the group of crows have exaggerated stereotypical black voices and the lead crow is called Jim Crow, according to the BBC. It doesn’t help that the voice actors were white. There’s also Asian racism in "The Aristocats” and Native American racism in “Peter Pan.”

The "Dumbo" live action remake dropped the crows, while Disney+ puts content warnings on certain films and cartoons. They've certainly adjusted while in a completely different genre from horror.

Remakes essentially put life and light into older movies. They make them socially acceptable to view in this decade by leaving the discrimination and the hate in the past. Movies can still depict those rough scenes from the past, but in a better manner. Movies should be carefully considered before being remade, but movie remakes are worth it if done correctly.

Alexander Beatty is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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