Monday, October 10, 2011

Covers Rule. Remakes Suck.

The maddest I can remember ever being over a movie was when I heard they were remaking the film "Heathers."

"They are raping my youth," I said, without any hyperbole.  I didn't feel that I was overreacting.  It was as if something in my brain or my soul had been invaded.  "How dare they even think of it?!" I exclaimed to my friends.  "They need to leave it the fuck alone and just...just...shut up!"

Eloquent.

That particular movie did not suffer a remake but so many others do these days.  I find myself nodding my head enthusiastically at friend's status updates complaining about the Footloose reboot or raising my voice to the chorus in the pub bemoaning the fact that there are no original shows on television this season, just remakes of shows from the 1980's.

However, when a new band remakes one of my favorite songs, I have the EXACT OPPOSITE REACTION!  The Dum Dum Girls remake a Smiths song?  I'm all about it.  I sing along, I buy the album, I put it on my Tumblr.  "Hey everybody, look at this!  What a great cover of this old song I love!  Isn't it fantastic?!"  Our favorite bartender makes playlists of covers and pumps them on Thursday nights.  We love it.  We don't get angry that Bat for Lashes dared to re-do The Boss.  We eat that shit up!  We talk about how it's just different enough to be cool but stays true to the essence of the original.  We put it on mixes and debate whether we like it better than Springsteen's because it's slower and sexier.  We talk a lot of smack.

And so do you.  You know you do.

So, lately I've found myself wondering, what is the difference?  Why is it offensive to remake a movie but awesome to cover a song?  Is it because movies are, um, longer?  Are they more embedded in our consciousness?  I find that hard to believe.  I mean, I think I'm way more wrapped up in or defined by my favorite music than my favorite movies.  Is it because, in films, the technology changes and we're hung up on the look or feel of the old version?  When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was made the first time, they didn't have the awesome tools they have now.  (Haha, get it?  Tools. Wow.) Even the fake blood is better in the new one.  But, maybe we like that old grittiness of the original.

I don't know.  I like the old sound of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin songs but that didn't stop me from buying the I Am Sam soundtrack and Encompium.  Enthusiastically even!  I bought them with enthusiasm, you guys!

Here's what I think it is.  For some reason, in our culture, covering a song is more like a tribute and remaking a movie is more like a "I can do this way better than you."  Right?  Like, when a band chooses to do another band's song, it's a love letter.  A director redoing a film is like a pissing contest.

But, I could be wrong.  What do you think?  Tell me.  I have absolutely nothing else to worry about.

*photo by dno1967b.