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When I Rule The World II: Hollywood Remakes

We all have grand plans for when we’re in charge. Instead, this series of posts embraces the little things that would make the world a little better for everyone. Or just a little less infuriating for me.

DECREE II:
When I rule the world…
…Hollywood remakes will be limited to the US Midwest.

I have clearly mellowed with age. In the past I railed absolutely against Hollywood remakes and would have banned them outright. However someone explained the reason for their existence and the folly of my outrage very succinctly: “they aren’t made for you.” He went on to explain that there are people living in the US Midwest who, throughout their entire lives, will never see a subtitled film. Is it really better that they never be exposed at all to the ideas and concepts explored in foreign cinema? If I go and see one of these remakes, which is not really intended for my consumption, that’s my own fault.

I found myself in reluctant agreement. The problem is, of course, that the gargantuan budgets mean these films are pushed out to the entire world and marketed in such a way that many of the original films are drowned out. Many of you will know my pet hate here is Vanilla Sky, which embodies all I hate about remakes* and yet most people have never even heard of its superior (if less slick-looking) predecessor, the Spanish Abre Los Ojos (“Open Your Eyes”).

In the Midwest, fine. Here in the literate world, not so much. We can read subtitles and we can watch the originals. Limiting geographic release will greatly reduce the income from such remakes which will undoubtedly reduce the financing. All that saved money can be pumped into proper marketing and distribution of the originals, which will become more profitable in turn. And once people start watching more foreign fare, they may find it contagious.

I accept this plan is not without drawbacks. We would lose stellar remakes like The Departed (you did know it was a remake of the Hong Kong Infernal Affairs trilogy: they made that clear, right?), and perfectly adequate remakes like Let Me In might drop in quality. Yet that is, I would argue, a small price to pay.

* Vanilla Sky did not just take the film rights; it also nabbed the original’s lead actress — one Miss Penelope Cruz — and made her act in English, as if this would somehow elicit a better performance rather than a stilted one in which she was too focused on her lines in an unfamiliar language. The most obvious sign of the director’s cavalier disrespect to the source material lies in the name change. Not only does “Vanilla Sky” have nothing to do with the film itself, he revealed in an interview that it was simply a title he’d always wanted to use — in fact he nearly gave his previous film that name!

When I Rule The World I: bundled earphones

We all have grand plans for when we’re in charge. Instead, this series of posts embraces the little things that would make the world a little better for everyone. Or just a little less infuriating for me.

DECREE I:
When I rule the world…
…bundling earphones with other products will be banned.

Every morning on the bus or train, nothing highlights humanity’s ignorance quite so starkly as those cheap plastic earbuds stuffed thoughtlessly into 50% of my fellow commuters’ ears.

It is not, I understand, entirely their fault. The logic is sound: I spent £200 on a portable media player, so these earphones they included should sound pretty good. A fallacy, of course, since very nearly none of the product’s cost lies in those woefully inadequate buds. Meanwhile I am stricken with nightmares of the glistening plastic peaks of a landfill, piled high with the useless earphones I have immediately ditched over the years.

Now, I am not snobbishly saying cheap earphones should not be an option at all — expensive Shures, Klipsch and the like are overkill for many. However, by unbundling them, consumers will be forced to make a proactive (and more informed) choice. Faced with a rack containing the full spectrum of humanity’s finest miniaturised electro-acoustic transducers, I suspect most would consider a paltry £30 or £40 a reasonable sum for a considerable upgrade.

More importantly, people will start to see portable music as a two-stage purchase: a device that stores the media; and the product that reproduces the sound. Both are equally important to the end result and one ought to budget accordingly.

N.B. Bundled earphones do serve one purpose: a free DIY laptop mute. Simply cut off the 3.5mm jack and insert it into your laptop’s headphone socket, removing it when sound is required. Never again be worried about the noise of booting your machine in a library or lecture hall.

"Luck is the residue of design."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2021 Priyan Meewella

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