Ironically, Simon Pegg said that science fiction movies are “dumbing down” the cinema.
Pegg, known for his roles in films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, said that adult moviegoers are becoming “infantilised” for consuming things like comic books, sci-fi films, and superhero movies and taking them seriously.
The Star Trek 3 writer told the Radio Times, “Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed.”
Although he said he was considering leaving geekdom, Pegg wrote an apology on his blog saying, “... maybe I was being a little bit trollish, I can be a bit of a Contrary Mary in interviews sometimes. When you do lots of them, you get sick of your own opinions and start espousing other people’s,” while going through a rant about movie history.
He finished off his blog post by saying, “I love science fiction and fantasy and do not think it’s all childish. I do not think it is all generated by dominant forces as a direct means of control…much. I am still a nerd and proud.”
Pegg does have a point: lately there have been a lot of movies that are being rebooted, but some of them actually do have important undertones that reflect today’s society.
Take Mad Max: Fury Road for example. The film may not be set in today’s world, but the message that a woman can be strong and save the day is a huge message that needs more attention. Or even Ex Machina and the need to be weary of the development of artificial intelligence.
What the problem is, these issues may not be as visible because of how people react to the graphics or the popular super heroes. Similarly, if directors and writers are making adaptations, they can interpret things differently or choose to cut out important information.
This happened with The Hunger Games. The book mentions how the Capitol held most of Panem’s wealth and that the government focused more on the relationship between Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellarck. Meanwhile, the movie did just that: focus on the relationship of Everdeen and Mellarck.
Even the message in Disney’s Wall-E was very strong: take care of the planet and it won’t end up like a wasteland.
Regarding art like films, Black Swan had people talking about it’s dark undertones and unusual ending. The film is about a ballerina taking part in Swan Lake, and slowly becomes more aggravated like the character plays until she becomes the character. There also has been Drive with Ryan Gosling, American Psycho with Christian Bale, and Birdman, all of which have had lots of press about their themes and stories.
But not everyone wants to see dark movies. The reason that Hollywood is adapting these films is because they speak to the masses, especially since the geek acceptance of The Big Bang Theory and how everyone wanted to be a nerd once it became popular. Today’s technology makes filming these movies easier, cheaper, and better looking than the days when these comic book heroes first debut, so fans are finally getting to see them in the most realistic way possible compared to the original Superman movie with mirrors and a harness.
People watch these movies because they’re familiar with the characters and they help them to escape the problems of the day. Yes, it’s what Simon Pegg was getting at, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all that people focus on. Surely there’s a social justice worker out there who wanted to be an everyday hero and goes home at night to read comics or watch sci-fi movies, or a Marvel illustrator who loves hard hitting documentaries on different countries in the world.
Yes, a lot of these types of movies originally targeted kids, but as they evolved and more adults got into these different things, the themes became more appealing to adults because of how mature they were. With this, the creators of these movies tried to balance their audience so they bring in the kids, but so adults also enjoy them.
At the end of the day, it’s all about personal taste. Simon Pegg is a writer and an actor. He’s well known, established, and has money. If he really wanted to see a change in the movie industry, he has the resources to make it happen.