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The Real Reason the Rocky Horror Remake Flopped

The Real Reason the Rocky Horror Remake Flopped

Rocky Horror Picture Show

No, we're not blaming Laverne Cox.

The much-hyped remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, aired on TV last week, appeared to be much ado about nothing. The ratings weren't great, the reviews weren't great, some of the acting wasn't great; it apparently wasn't great. Sure, some people weren't keen on Laverne Cox playing a "sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania," but I didn't have a problem with it because I was under the assumption we wanted transgender actors to have more diverse roles and characters -- either love all of it or none of it, I say.

Some people didn't like the fact that the 2016 version lost a lot of its subversiveness by being cleaned up for television, but then, as a film made in 1975, the original is still pretty tame. There were others who didn't like it because the production values weren't that great -- bad acting, bad costumes, bad sets, etc. I wouldn't know about any of that last part, since I didn't watch it. I've never liked Rocky Horror or musicals in general.

I know what you're thinking, How can you be writing a review if you didn't watch it? Easy -- this isn't a review. I generally don't even care about reviews, because they're pretty irrelevant to determining what I like. Of course, I'm not alone in this because I know full well I have some rather poorly reviewed tastes. For example, I have a Dave Matthews Band tattoo. Yeah, laugh it up, I don't care, I love that band. You have poorly reviewed tastes too, be it cheap romance novels, bad pop music, or a never-ending desire for bathroom selfies. It's never reviews that affect pop culture; Psycho, Caddyshack, and Alien were all movies that got bad reviews and are now considered classics. Let's not forget that Nickelback and Justin Bieber are generally reviled but are enormously popular (I know you might hate them, but they are platinum-selling artists). So no, scathing reviews don't sink these kinds of things. It's not the number of trophies they win come award season that makes them classics, either. Some pop culture just becomes classics that you just don't touch.

That's why this movie flopped. I heard one reviewer that generally liked the remake said the whole purpose of the new version was an attempt to reach a new generation of fans. What the crap? What universe does that view come from? Have they ever been to a theater screening of Rocky Horror? The audience isn't all balding, portly men in their 50s wearing corsets and fishnets. These things are full of people of all ages coming out to watch this movie and participate. In fact, at the local gay video bar where they're showing the film, most of the audience has been people in their 20s and early 30s. Why? Because the film is a classic, you Hollywood bubble twits. That's the biggest reason this thing flopped. You don't remake classics for cash. No one wants to see them, no one is interested, and you have to try to top something that is now built into our culture.

They try to pitch these things as "reimaginings." That's ironic, because it totally lacks imagination to rehash something like this. Usually, when they reimagine these things they remove anything that made them good, or the context that made them great. With Rocky Horror the most common criticism of it is that the original was so subversive. In 1975, our culture was breaking away from cultural prudishness. Sexual and gender norms were being turned upside down, and the movie and play were part of that Part of the film's charm is knowing that they made this movie, which would be a boring music video today, in an era where they were burning bras and LGBT folks were creating a culture in front of the public eye. Nowadays a guy prancing around in stockings and a gay sex scene are kind of meh, really.

It's like when they remade Footloose. C'mon, people, that was perfect in its 1980s anti-fundamentalist Christian, Reagan-era setting. It was youthful rebellion then, but no one believes a town in the 21st century would ban dancing. The charm of the bad rubber masks of the original Planet of the Apes lay in the absolutely stupid plot. Gene Wilder's performance in Willy Wonka was such a wonderful mix of creepy surrealness and charm that it's untouchable, especially by Johnny "I can only play three characters" Depp. Some films like Ben-Hur are so perfectly made that to try to remake them just insults the original as well as the audience. I shudder to think that somewhere in Hollywood there is someone trying to pitch remakes of films like The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany's, In the Heat of the Night, or Citizen Kane.

Sure, there are some films you can do a new version of and make them more appealing to a newer audience, like Roots, Hamlet, or A Christmas Carol, since those stories are timeless and never lose their relevance. But more often than not, the original is already beloved and the time it was germane has passed. If Hollywood actually cared about the art forms it made its money off of, it would know that some works can't be remade because they're already so perfect. No one is interested in a reimagined or updated Mona Lisa or David; who do you think wants to see a Gone With the Wind 2.0 or a Back to Brokeback Mountain?

Amanda-kerrix100AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.

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