A pumpkin? Again? Lily James as a live-action Cinderellatwitter/beautifulcelebz

Memory has the unfortunate tendency of compounding individual experiences, diluting them into indistinguishable, beige sludge. As I cast my mind over the cinematography of the last decade, I struggled to remember just how many superhero films had there been in the last ten years. My mother guessed fifteen, my sister thirty. Had there been four Ironmans or three? Was there really three Captain Americas? What even was‘Thor: The Dark World’?

So, I checked: there had been twenty-one. Memory’s habit of homogenising, it seems, is not so entirely off the mark when remembering the films of the 2010s.

In keeping with the 40-year cycle of nostalgia, the 2010s saw the pendulum of pop culture swing towards the 80s, producing a wave of reboots. At best, these remakes are a transparent money-grab: insubstantial but largely innocuous, like Blade Runner 2049 or Jumanji (2017).

"These remakes are only as progressive so far as will profit; that is to say, they aren’t"

At worst, they mar the cultural legacies of fondly-remembered franchises; such was the case with Ghostbusters (2016). In any case, reboots, well-received or otherwise, are a safe bet for studios: there is a guaranteed, established audience, drawn in by nostalgic curiosity if nothing else. Unfortunately, with the rise of the reboot, novelty has become a financial gamble studios are increasingly hesitant to make.

Any conversation about shrewd marketing would be limited without mentioning the media monopoly in the room: Disney. In keeping with the trend of financially-low-risk reboots, the Disney corporation has taken to reimagining its classic films as live-action remakes, doused in a good deal of CGI: Cinderella (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and The Lion King (2019) to name a few (a fun tidbit: no fewer than two of the live-action princes are played by ex-Cantabs).

They change very little of the source material apart from the addition of self-referential asides or, now that a certain genre of palatable feminism has been deemed marketable, a more progressive slant - but not so much so that it falls foul of international censors.

Disney walks a tightrope between performative progressivism and tried-and-tested conservatism: on the one hand, teasing LGBT+ representation to attract its more liberal following, and, on the other, not wanting to jeopardise profits in international markets by coming off as too socially transgressive. The result: live-action remakes are only progressive within the bounds of profitability; that is to say, they aren’t. Again, the safety of assured profit outweighs the risks of originality.


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Marketability having sanded off the coarser edges of innovation, what we are left with is a low-risk, lifeless product, devoid of individuality. While the 2010s have produced some true gems of cinematography (see: Sausage Party), the decade will go down in the annals of film history for one thing: homogeneity.

Amidst the innumerable superhero movies, faceless live-action remakes and reboot after reboot, the 2010s will be remembered as the decade in which late-stage capitalism waged war on ingenuity and won

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