Why April Fools Doesn’t Work For Hollywood Anymore
So, it’s April 1st, which – if traditional online publishing logic is to be trusted – means that I should be posting some entirely fictional news that’s ridiculous but not so ridiculous that you immediately know it’s fake, just so I can take advantage of the chance to do an April Fools joke on all of you dear readers. But here’s the thing: I looked at recent news and realized that, somewhere along the way, Hollywood has become parody-proof.
I’ll admit it: I was thinking about trying to come up with a fake news story on Friday, but when I checked the actual news to see if it would have anything I could riff off, I saw that producers are seriously considering doing a sequel to 1988’s Twins, with Eddie Murphy joining original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as a further long-lost-and-equally-unlikely sibling. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, that stopped me in my tracks. In a world where that is a real thing, how can anyone really come up with a parody that is anywhere near as ridiculous and convincing as that?
That’s the thing: We’re in a world where “Why don’t we make a sequel to a 25 year old movie that absolutely no-one is asking for?” is the sort of question that not only gets asked, but given the answer “Sure, that seems like a good idea” (More than once; Tron Legacy, anyone?). It’s the same world where Battleship gets made into a movie with trailers that boast that it’s from the same people who made Transformers, and they’re talking about the actual toys, and the same world where John Carter can make $200 million + and still be a genuine flop because it’d need to make three times that amount in order just make it into the black. There’s so much about the modern movie industry that already seems like a joke or just plain crazy that the idea of trying to compete with that seems both exhausting and pointless.
(It doesn’t help that so many subjects have become difficult to joke about in general, because of how heated the online discussion surrounding them has become; the idea of making a “They’re making more Star Wars prequels” joke feels like asking for trouble whether it’s from those decrying their childhood being “raped” again, or inciting an argument over (a) how greedy George Lucas is supposed to be, (b) the relative merits of the last three movies and/or the Clone Wars television series or ( c ) some random combination of the two. The internet has taught us to be continually on our guard and ready for a scrap over the years, and there’re arguments to be made on both sides about whether or not that’s a good thing – when it comes to the suspicions of April Fools and broad comedy, though, I think I’m pretty much in the “not so great” column.)
Parodying the movie industry today feels like the Weird Al episode of 30 Rock from a few weeks back: The temptation would be to play it straighter than the source material, if only to provide a real sense of contrast. But where’s the fun in that – especially as we don’t have anything close to enough money to rival the kind of budget that Twins 2 (Okay, okay; Triplets, if you insist) will have to spend?
So, well done, Hollywood. You’ve won this April 1st. But let’s see how crazy you’re feeling next year before we start admitting permanent defeat…