Recycling Ideas in the American Film Industry


Even though remakes are as old as the movie industry, the recycling of ideas in the American film landscape is getting more prevalent.

In the 1930s, the storylines of 16 percent of the 500 most successful films were recycled. Films such as Dracula and Frankenstein were made several times. Treasure Island (1934) and A Tale of Two Cities (1935) had been produced previously as silent films.

In the 1980s, the percentage of rehashed storylines increased to 22 percent. The 80s became the decade in which the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series were continued. It was also the time of the Scarface remakes (1983) and the creation of franchises such as Die Hard, Police Academy and Rambo.

In the first ten years of the 21st century, no less than 36 percent of the 500 most popular films are either a remake, sequel, spin-off or part of a franchise. Harry Potter, Pirates of The Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and (again) Star Wars – to name a few – are turned into film series. Other examples include the Disney remakes of the Marvel superhero films, and the modern takes on Starsky & Hutch (2004) and Miami Vice (2006).

“We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.” – Michael Eisner, Disney CEO (1984-2005)

In other words, there has been a 20 percent increase over 80 years since the 1930s in the number of major American films whose storylines is either a remake, sequel or spin-off. The number of mainstraim American films which can be labelled “recycled” according to these criteria was 36 percent in the 2000s.

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The Destruction of Divergent Thinking


‘There was a great study done recently of divergent thinking. It was published a couple of years ago. Divergent thinking isn’t the same thing as creativity. I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym but it’s an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways of interpreting a question to think what Edward de Bono would probably call laterally – to think not just in linear or convergent ways. To seek multiple answers, not one.

So there are tests for this, I mean, one kind of cod example would be people might be asked to say how many uses can you think of for a paper clip; one of those routine questions. Most people might come up with ten or fifteen. People who are good at this might come up with 200. And they’d do that by saying, “Well could the paperclip be 200 foot tall and made out of foam rubber?” “Does it have to be a paperclip as we know it, Jim?” Now they tested this and they gave them to 1,500 people in a book called Break Point and Beyond, and on the protocol of the test if you scored above a certain level you’d be considered to be a genius at divergent thinking.

So my question to you is what percentage of the people tested of the 1,500 scored at genius level for divergent thinking. Now you need to know one more thing about them – these were kindergarten children. So what do you think? What percentage at genius level? 80? 98%. Now the thing about this was it was a longitudinal study, so they retested the same children five years later aged 8 to 10. What do you think? 50? They retested them again five years later, ages 13 to 15. You can see a trend here can’t you?’

– Robinson, K. (2008, June 16) Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from Ted.com

Conceptual Blending


Conceptual Blending or Conceptual Integration is a general theory of cognition. According to this theory, elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are blended in a subconscious process known as Conceptual Blending, which is assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language.

Possible Structure of Blending Theory

Insights obtained from these blends constitute the products of creative thinking, though conceptual blending theory is not itself a theory of creativity, inasmuch as it does not illuminate the issue of where the inputs to a blend actually come from. Blending theory does provide a rich terminology for describing the creative products of others, but has little to say on the inspiration that serves as the starting point for each blend.

The development of this theory began in 1993 and a representative early formulation is found in their online article Conceptual Integration and Formal Expression. Scholars had identified a common pattern in creative achievements in the arts, sciences and humour that he had termed bisociation of matrices – a notion he described with many striking examples, but have not formalized in algorithmic terms.

The Conceptual Blending theory is also not formalized at the level of algorithmic detail, but its various optimality principles provide some guidance for those building computational models.