The answer is friendship and we all need friendship, in life as on screen. While the main focus of the MI Experience is helping everyone to cope with their emotions, this is important, and it deals with storytelling and our lives…also…
I gotta get this off my chest…
Starsky & Hutch was not a comedy where one is an asshole straight-laced cop with a layabout partner; it was about 2 good cops who’s friendship was the power.
CHiPs was not a gross comedy about Califomian dudes; it was a cop show about 2 police officers doing their duty and being friends.
Dragnet was not a comedy where one is a stiff asshole; it was a crime drama about 2 cops who solved cases by being good cops and friends.
The A Team was not a bunch of assholes trying to make money and escape authority; it was about a group of friends who had served together in the Vietnam war and were trying to clear their name by helping people who were being persecuted by authority.
See where this is going?
The main thrust of stories has centred around friendship, and since the late 80s through to the 000’s and onwards we seem to have forgotten that and decided that every hero and villain in the world was a stiff asshole. Well that’s just wrong, and gives us one reason why modern remakes of popular tv shows from the 60s onwards should generally be avoided.
Exceptions are Mission: Impossible, which is still about a group of friends helping each other; Star Trek is also the same, although it’s current legitimacy is hanging by a thread while it goes through an identity crisis.
Disney’s Star Wars has lost the plot, with the original trilogy being the only part of it that still stands the test of time. While the original was generally about good vs evil, the core strength of the movies was the friendship between the 3 main characters, and then within that there was the bond between those characters and others. This fact seems to have been lost with the sequel trilogy and was not really a part of the prequels either. How we missed R2 and Threepio in the prequels.
BBC’s Doctor Who has passed over to CBeebies when it comes to plot, character development and thrills. I mean, Balamory has more heart than the 2 of the Doctor. The longevity of the character though is again defined by the bond between The Doctor and the companion.
This appears to have passed scriptwriters by in the last few years, nay, decades. As suggested above, hit TV shows from the early 80s and late 70s were mainly about friendship and then a strong story was built around that. The fact that each week stories were quite similar did not matter as the characters were enough to pull you through.
The movie remakes decided not to pursue down that avenue, instead we have effects, bangs, action and punches before story, and then character; I guess because we live in a world where we are told that being bullish and arrogant achieves success then we need heroes who are bullish and arrogant, and get their needs by thumping the shit out of something. Yet that is not the case with the world, it certainly did not translate into box-office gold for the movie adaptations of Starsky & Hutch or The A Team, while reruns of the shows still attract viewers. You can see it happening in most movie remakes, and the whole point is that we, the audience, connect to heart and emotion.
That is what real storytelling is all about. It is a reflection of life.
Just look at the recent behemoths at the box-office, the Marvel movies. The core essence of the characters is their bond, and like most relationships there are ups and downs. That is what keeps audiences flocking to the cinema, not superheroes destroying worlds and buildings, like in DC. This is the reason DC has not managed to replicate the success of Marvel, simply that once you’ve seen Superman destroy a building, you don’t need to see it again. The relationship between Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and whoever else they are trying to shoehorn in is not explored to any depth, therefore, we switch off because we care very little if they make it or not: see Batman vs Superman.
Friendship; relationships; bonds. The strength of a good story is built around how we connect to the characters and how they make us feel. You could have the most kick-ass story but if your main character has no emotion, then you are on a loser. Take Terminator 2, we flocked to see it because it was funny seeing a cyborg being told how to behave like a human by a kid. That was the joy, it made us feel sentiment for a killing machine that eight years previously was the villain in the story. You could also argue that Darth Vader has sympathy because of his tragic plight and brainwashing by The Emperor. We all knew he was good really, even if he did torture and try to kill his daughter in the first movie (or the 4th, depending on your POV).
Friendship is key. Stories about friends going on a journey grabs our imaginations and we latch on as we see ourselves in those scenarios. It is no secret that the idea of friends is lucrative, friends at the core of your story is lucrative, it will give you success. I mean, FRIENDS for goodness sake, the most successful sitcom ever and still getting an audience 20 years later from repeats. It’s not rocket-science to see that the movies that go wrong have poor characters who you don’t give a fuck about…see Batman vs Superman.
Therefore, writers, artists and performers, when piecing something together, think of the fact that friends sell. Creating believable characters with genuine support and guidance is what brings us all together to a place of happiness and intrigue. A hero has support, a hero has someone that he or she can rely on when times are tough, and that someone who will tell him or her that they are being a fool when they are being a fool. That’s real life.
So if you need a movie or TV series to make you feel good, you could do worse than choose something that has friendship at the core. Being a man, I would go for movies like Marvel’s Avengers series; and tv shows like Batman (60s version), Starsky & Hutch (70s version); Tennant era Doctor Who; you could even go for F.R.I.E.N.D.S. why not?! If the world needs love, then we need to spread that message and ditch the asshole theory of life.
We can change the world with love!
See also The Lord of the Rings; Harry Potter; Guardians of the Galaxy; Dumb & Dumber; Green Book; E.T. to name but a few.
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