Dear God No: The Rocky Horror Remake

The last dim light of my adolescence was just extinguished with Fox Studio’s announcement that they are remaking Richard O’Brien’s classic 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a made for TV movie.  Slated to be a “reimaging” of the film (whatever the fuck that means) and not a remake, the made for TV special is tentatively slated to air in fall 2015.

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While remakes are nearly always poor ideas, this is a particularly terrible one.  For one, it is basic common sense that bad movies should not be remade.  Despite my love for the film, I have to admit that, objectively speaking, it sucks.  The film has basically no plot with only the audience’s familiarity with the B-movie clichés that it references moving the narrative forward.  It’s hard to imagine how anyone could salvage a decent film out of the source material, yet somehow the 1975 original worked.  Roger Ebert didn’t consider the film a genuine movie so much as a “long-running social phenomenon” and he was right.  The unique shadow cast culture that sprung up around the film saved it from obscurity.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show would have been all but forgotten were it not for the cult phenomenon that emerged in its wake.  Questionably acted with trite dialogue and cheap costuming, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the cinema’s greatest bad movies and that kind of success is simply inimitable.  The film was propelled into the zeitgeist by the legions of fans who gathered in rundown art theaters for years to worship it.  This is the essence of the film’s enduring popularity and this phenomenon is impossible to replicate, much less on the small screen.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show simply has no aesthetic connection to television.  As a musical, it lends itself to theater while the film’s endless references to the sci-fi B-movies that birthed it lend it to the cinema.  There is no such link to television.  In fact, Rocky Horror shadow casts consider people who have only viewed the film on TV to be rocky virgins.  As the old saying amongst Rocky fanatics goes, watching it on TV doesn’t count; that’s just wrong.

Remakes of classic films consistently fail.  The 1998 remake of Psycho was an embarrassing failure, as was the recent remake of Carrie.  It took years for the smirch of NBC’s 1983 Casablanca remake to be scrubbed from the film’s legacy.  All of those movies are invariably tied to the cultural milieu that they arrived in.  The only classic movies that work as remakes are broad action films like King Kong and Godzilla, movies that are comprised almost entirely of explosive spectacle and marketed to a distinctly undiscerning palate.  All other classic movie remakes lose prestige and, of more relevance to the film’s producers, money.  40 years after its release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is still making money for Fox Studios.  This is presumably why they want to remake it but a disastrous remake will inevitably compromise the film’s brand.  This will harm merchandising revenues, still going strong four decades since the film’s original release, and it threatens to kill the steady trickle of revenue that comes from the continual showing of the film in cinemas.  Rocky Horror is a cultural phenomenon that could potentially be destroyed by a crass remake.  The studio execs blinded by Rocky dollar signs should strongly consider the real possibility of losing revenue from the film long term.

It’s understandable why the older set of producers who greenlit this project would think that it’s a good idea to remake it now.  RuPaul’s Drag Race has exhibited a growing cult interest that shows no signs of slowing, Conchita Wurst’s brilliant genderfuck drag persona slayed the last Eurovision Song Contest while the LGBT community stands at an unprecedented state of visibility and acceptance.  But The Rocky Horror Picture Show has only a distant, tenuous connection to this modern phenomena.  The LGBT community, as it presently stands, is a highly organized, highly politicized conglomeration of respectable people, a far cry from the unrestrained libido and amoral bacchanalia of Tim Curry’s Frank N. Furter.  Frank N. Furter is an anti-hero who stands only for decadence, self-indulgence and perversity.  It’s a glorious spectacle but it’s also the exact antithesis of what the newly respectable LGBT community has been fighting for the last thirty years.  This character is distinctly unpalatable to today’s ultra-politicized and easily offended gays.  The producers of the remake claim that they want to stay as true to the source material as possible, but that’s impossible.  The Rocky Horror Show episode of Glee necessitated several cuts to the source material and they still got in trouble anyways.  Clearly the producers can’t stick to the source material without running afoul with the modern day LGBT community, so what’s the point?  History has shown that remakes of classic films consistently fail outside their original cultural setting, the film has no aesthetic connection to television and the current cultural landscape is potentially unreceptive to the film’s source material.  Upon closer review, the proposed reimaging of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is simply pointless.

Slated to appear in fall 2015 as The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event, the TV remake is likely already in development.  It’s a shame that Fox Studios has decided to recklessly sully the cinema’s longest running movie, but hopefully the film’s dedicated shadow cast fan base will be resilient enough to withstand the remake.  I have met some of the most fascinating freaks, geeks and nerds that I know at showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I think when the TV remake drops I’ll just pop on a pair of torn fishnets and go to one of the shadow cast showings of the original film instead, remembering all of the wonderful, filthy good times that I’ve had celebrating Richard O’Brien’s transvestite alien masterpiece.

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Madonna’s Grill Is Not On Fleek

The premier of a new Madonna video is a cherished event for gay men, with homosexuals the world over collectively taking pause to absorb her newest artistic masterpiece.  Presumably rushed out following the commercial failure of her 90’s house homage “Living For Love,” her newest video for “Ghosttown” is unlikely to reinvigorate her fan base.  It’s a serviceable song but the video is hopelessly doomed by the repeated appearance of one of Madonna’s greatest visual faux pas.  Brace yourself for the unsightly return of Madonna’s white lady grills.

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I have repeatedly railed against the tomfoolery that are white lady grills.  I didn’t like it the first time she wore them, I didn’t like them when Katy Perry followed suit afterword, and I still don’t like them now. Madonna’s grills have never been well received which makes their reappearance all the more baffling.  The rationale for her grill criticism varies.  Some feel that this is a woeful instance of black cultural appropriation, while other think that they’re just plain ugly.  Personally, I just think it’s tired.

Grills on white people have not been fashionable, audacious or avant-garde for many years.  Jeffree Star rocked a grill in his Myspace days.  That was the better part of ten years ago and that was the last time that grills on a white person ever registered any sort of audacious effect.  It’s been done to death.  At this point grills on a white chick are about as fashion forward and avant-garde as a fanny pack.  Madonna’s stylist would do well to take note.

Due to its inherent comedic value, I am not necessarily opposed to all instances of white performers appropriating aspects of black culture.  I cannot reasonable expect the entertainers of this nation to maintain any standard of creativity or originality, so I understand the constant need for it, but the white folk grill is just lazy.  In a post Iggy Azalea world, rocking a grill just isn’t enough.  Effective cultural appropriation requires a certain amount of diligence and Madonna clearly no longer has it.  Madonna has repeatedly failed in her recent attempts at copping black culture.  Her collaborations with rap artists have been consistently terrible, her homage to Doctor King was poorly received and she’s still clinging to tooth bling.  This is just a tired series of clichés.  If Madonna was truly enterprising in her appropriation of black culture she would get shot by the police.  She needs to quit repeating herself and steal something fresh and new.

It’s not easy for me to say this.  I am always hesitant to criticize Madonna for fear that it will jeopardize my chances of one day sleeping with Andy Cohen, but I love Madonna too much to sit idly by while she repeatedly pushes out the same sloppy clichés.  Lately Madonna has been putting up a seemingly exhaustive effort to keep up with her younger contemporaries and it only serves to age her.  It’s dispiriting to see one of pop culture’s greatest architects constantly on Instagram, ensnared by the same smart phone social media culture that diminishes so many of her colleagues.  Madonna’s bizarre pandering to fad technology just makes her look desperate.  She baffled her fan base by premiering her debut Rebel Heart video on Snapchat and she followed that with an even less successful attempt at debuting “Ghosttown” on Meerkat.  The gimmicky smart phone app premiers are tiring, however I have to applaud her for Grindr Rebel Heart Sweepstakes.  Some felt that this was in extraordinarily poor taste, but this wasn’t self-promotion.  This was Christian charity.  Anyone who would wrap their Grindr profile pic in Madonna styled wire clearly has no prospects of ever getting laid, so they should at least be given free Madonna albums for the futile use of that application.  It’s good to see that Madonna still looks out for her gay fan base, particularly the unfuckable ones that are most in need of her guidance.

It’s too easy to dismiss Madonna as a dated prune in thigh highs, but Cher has shown us that a pop diva can continue to enthrall well into their autumn years.  Factoring out the grill, Madonna still looks fabulous.  She’s serving Stevie Nicks by way of Patsy Stone and I am absolutely living.  Madonna is one of pop music’s greatest auteurs and I will always love her.  I’m sure that Madonna will go on to thrill us once again, but she needs to get rid of that hideous grill first, and the sooner the better.