Thursday, February 20, 2014

Homage vs Rip-Off

Are you ready for a rant?  If not, skip this post.

Maybe it's the fact that I am mentally about 30 years older than I am physically (meaning that I'm mentally a crotchety 68 year-old), or it's the headache I have had for the past couple of weeks, or even the podcasts I've been listening to, but I thought I'd post my thoughts on what the difference is between an Homage and a Rip-Off.  First, some definitions from

hom·age  [hom-ij, om-]  Show IPA
  1. respect or reverence paid or rendered: In his speech he paid homage to Washington and Jefferson.
  2. the formal public acknowledgment by which a feudal tenant or vassal declared himself to be the man or vassal of his lord, owing him fealty and service.
  3. the relation thus established of a vassal to his lord.
  4. something done or given in acknowledgment or consideration of the worth of another: a Festschrift presented as an homage to a great teacher.
rip·off  [rip-awf, -of]  Show IPA
noun Slang.
  1. an act or instance of ripping off another or others; a theft, cheat, or swindle.
  2. exploitation, especially of those who cannot prevent or counter it.
  3. a copy or imitation.
  4. a person who rips off another or others; thief or swindler.
Today we will be concerning ourselves with the bold definitions as they relate to the entertainment industry.  Do you know what the difference is?  In my opinion, whether or not you liked the final product.  Let's use Star Trek for some examples.
  • Those that like JJ Abrams' Star Trek movies would call "Into Darkness" an homage to the original series and movies.  Those that don't would call it a rip-off of The Wrath of Kahn.
  • Those that like The Next Generation would say that "The Naked Now" is an homage to The Original Series episode "The Naked Time".  Those that don't would call it a rip-off of the same.  (Personally, I consider it a sequel.)
  • Those that like Deep Space Nine will take it for what it is, a Gunsmoke version of The Original Series' Wagon Train.  That don't like it will see it as a rip-off of Babylon 5.
  • Those that like Voyager will take the show as a struggle for a Starfleet Ship to both get home and explore a strange part of the galaxy.  Those that don't like it will see it as a rip-off of Lost in Space.
So, to paraphrase Obi-Wan, it all depends on your point of view.  My point of view, however, is that the entertainment industry as a whole, and Hollywood in particular, needs to work on some original ideas.  Did any really need a remake of The Poseidon Adventure?  And what was the point of making Titanic when A Night to Remember already existed?  You want to do your own spin on Robocop?  No problem, just don't remake the original, do your own thing.

A good friend of mine, Sean Strain, has written a mob movie and, unlike everyone else since the Godfather, he based it in Maryland.  It is a fully original piece, called Spit Boys by the way, and while it does the basic "war between the families" thing, he puts a new spin on it.  It's not just a Godfather or Goodfellas rip-off, or even an homage, but <gasp> something new!  Is it really that hard to come up with something new now a days?  Does everything have to be a rehash of something else?

OK, rant over.  I just had to get that out of my system.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled geekiness.

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