Dumbing it Down

There is a vicious cycle that repeats over and over and over.

A brilliant movie is about to be made/beer is about to be brewed/tv show is about to filmed/newspaper is about to be published and the money men get together to discuss how to maximize success – and, of course, success is measured in dollars.

“It might be a little difficult/complex/cultural for our target market”

says one.

Let’s remove the [parts that make it satisfying] to make it more accessible

responds the other.

Repeat this for long enough and large sections of the audience become unable to catch cultural references/stand any trace of hops/follow any story that is not about Peoria/understand english accents/watch a movie that doesn’t have a happy ending.

American Culture at is finest is still magnificent, but large swathes of America thinks that Budweiser is beer and USA Today is a newspaper and Ben Stiller is funny. Me, I can no longer tell the difference between Entertainment Tonight and Eye Witness News.

Expose a population to this kind of pap for long enough and they lose the ability to digest a richer diet. Only pap will sell. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We reap what we sow.

My pet peeve for today is when they take a cultural icon from a different culture – The Magic Roundabout – and remove as many of the cultural references as possible. Americans are not familiar with the British actors in the original. No-one knows who Joanna Lumley is because Absolutely Fabulous was remade in america (and bombed) because no-one knows who Joanna Lumley is because …

It’s no use making cultural references because no-one is familiar with the culture because …

Can’t use actors with English accents because no-one understands English accents because …

Where will it end?

Why does every great French/Spanish/Japanese/even English movie have to be remade for the American market? Why couldn’t they at least tip their hat to Rudyard Kipling in the credits of The Road to El Dorado? Are they afraid that someone will go watch The Man Who Would be King and never watch an American movie ever again? I watched the entire “Making of the Lion King” just to see if anyone would mention the Prince of Denmark (they didn’t).

On the bright side, microbrews are really taking off. A lot of people still watch Jim Lehrer and, in sophisticated circles, everyone knows that Cheddar is “The Single Most Popular Cheese In The World”. A few niche markets – like anime – are making inroads. Maybe Harry, Ron and Hermione are the camel’s noses?

I am not hopeful.

Published by

Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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