Austin Siegemund-Broka hopes you are not offended—at least, not, like, really offended.
The 2010s are shaping up to be the era of regurgitation. Musicians and filmmakers like to gobble up massive amounts of past and present work, chew it around, and burp up something sort of new; consequently, pop music tastes like ’80s disco and ’90s electronica, Hollywood’s cornucopia of adaptations and threequels stays comfortably familiar, and so on. A lot of these appropriations suck already, but the question always remains just how far today’s culturemeisters will go. Consider the possibilities—or, maybe, hopefully, the impossibilities, but what the heck.
1. Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music crew vs. “The Clique” novels
It seems like a win-win. West’s new crew could connect with a younger market (catty 14-year-olds) for its single “Clique,” while Lisi Harrison’s young-adult novels would get a huge popularity jump from Yeezy’s star power.
Yes, these novels have already enjoyed a direct-to-DVD adaptation that starred a girl from my high school. But what’s to say they don’t deserve another cinematic treatment, one in which West’s gang parties with the series’ young, er, heroines? On second thought—with lines like “She trying get me that poontang / I might let my crew bang” in the G.O.O.D. single, maybe a collaborative adaptation of a series for teen girls is a terrible, awful idea.
2. Christopher Nolan vs. the Legion of Super-Pets
The new Batman trilogy’s helmer is undoubtedly brilliant, but is he versatile? His films, apart from his gritty, psychologically complex trilogy, are gritty, psychologically complex crime films, and over half include Michael Caine. It would be impressive if Nolan could nail a completely different genre—say, the deceptively simplistic family film.
The Legion of Super-Pets comprises actual characters from ’50s and ’60s DC Comics. Maybe Nolan could have fun with Krypto the Superdog—an “Air Bud of Steel”-type thing—but it seems less likely that he could work successfully with Beppo the Super-Monkey or Comet the Super-Horse, even had the parts been voiced by Heath Ledger.
3. Jack Black vs. Sir Thomas More, Plato, etc.
Black starred in 2010’s inexplicable “Gulliver’s Travels,” a wonderful production with a cast member credited as “Butt-crack man.” With the next “Kung-Fu Panda” slated for 2016, why shouldn’t he belly flop into other classic fantastical-society texts, like Plato’s “The Republic” or More’s “Utopia”? Of course, “Gulliver’s” was an outlandishly bad film, dramatically and comically unfulfilling as well as totally divorced from Jonathan Swift’s satirical source text, but that’s nothing to stop a 20th Century Fox-ified “Utopia.”
4. Sam Mendes vs. “The Sandlot”
At the end of the 1993 family classic, we learn what happens to the baseball gang—Timmy and Tommy become architects, Squints buys the local drugstore, etc. But the film took place in 1962, so its characters were adults the ’90s, which means that at least some of their lives probably became pretty damn depressing.
Enter Mendes: the director’s Bond installment “Skyfall” is a smash, but he made his name depicting tortured suburban existences in films like “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road.” Who better to jump decades forward with the “Sandlot” gang in what would probably be a fairly moving film, albeit one that stamps out every spark of childlike wonderment left in your soul?
5. U2 vs. Taylor Swift
How could she? Nay, how dare T-Swift release her new album, “Red,” last month without proceeds going to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa? I’m going to let you finish, Taylor, but Bono has the better artistic enterprise (eh, sort of) involving the word “red”: Product Red, which partners with other companies to sell special versions of stuff like iPods and Armani clothes and then donates profits to fight disease. Taylor, looking to experiment with new genres, could settle her debt by collabing with Bono’s band—except that that would nail shut the coffin of one of the world’s greatest rock groups.
—Austin Siegemund-Broka is the outgoing Campus Arts Executive and incoming Arts Chair. He comes from a time when “puns used to be the highest form of humor.”