From The Odyssey to Spongebob, literature gets a facelift


   Recently, almost every movie whose trailer rudely interrupts my YouTube watching has been completely unoriginal. They’re literally either representations of books, remakes of old movies, or true stories brought to the screen. Even those movies that do have original story lines have rotating themes and generic characters that appear in every film.  The craziest part is that this repetition doesn’t only take place in the movie theater. So much of our culture today comes from the past, and at times it can be difficult to find a unique identity for our generation. At the same time, it is important for people to be educated about the past. The challenge for artists today is to form a healthy mixture of the two concepts to create the perfect work of art.

The biggest influence on today’s pop culture is classic literature. Characters are kidnapped from the past and forced to change their names. Themes and plotlines are stolen completely and recycled over and over again. I’m not sure if this makes today’s art better, being derived from such genius, or if the originality points lost take too much away from the overall score. Kyra Bloom ’11, sister of senior Gaby Bloom takes the positive side to this controversy, seeing modernizations as windows through which to see the original text. “They make difficult literature accessible to people who might not normally be able to access it,” she said.

When Scar convinces Simba that he’s responsible for Mufasa’s death in Disney’s The Lion King, it seems quite a lot like the plotline of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” written a solid 400 years prior to the 1994 film. However, The Lion King has good reason to be considered one of this generation’s best classics.  “At Park Maitland we learned Hamlet along with the Lion King,” says Bloom. “It’s always exciting to watch or read something new and know exactly from where its ideas were derived.” The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, in which SpongeBob and Patrick set out on an extensive journey to Shell City, is supposedly based on Homer’s Odyssey.  However, this correlation may be too subtle for a lot of young audiences to make the connection.  The 2011 film, From Prada to Nada is openly presented as a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and Andy Fickman’s She’s the Man tells the story of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” through Amanda Bines and her brother’s boarding school.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think about this issue. Should writers and directors be allowed to take plots from classic literature without giving credit to the original writer? Do modernizations of literature aid our generation’s understanding of old texts or hinder our ability to grasp classic topics without this modern twist? Let me know what you think! Here on, you can complete a survey and share your opinion on this topic.