Not only on films can we notice this obsession for merciless repetition that seems to be overwhelming us since 2000 arrived: TV series breeding like mushrooms; the same type of music monopolising almost every radio station and almost every area of entertainment; or those capricious whims of a society that seems to be suddenly obsessed with some novelty just to immediately replacing it with another new fad that appears just in time to be squeezed mercilessly; all these being probably symptoms of the same phenomenon.
(read the first part of this article here)
The golden age of television series
It is no coincidence that, according to the experts, we might be living right now a so-called “golden age” of TV series, for what is a series but a plot that stretches, stretches, stretches and stretches sometimes to infinity?
We are already many the generations who have grown up with adult cartoons, among which The Simpsons stands out, understandably since it counts a whopping number of 27 seasons; but also the irreverent and increasingly great South Park, counting 19; Family Guy which is on its 16th season, and American Dad, which adds another ten.
(Many years have gone, while the series evolves)
But it is the existence of many other series which, by mere accumulation, causes this kind of TV series golden age we mentioned earlier: the frivolity of Sex and the City, perhaps by facing menopause, gave up urban casual sex in 2004 after six seasons. The sexagenarian Doctor Who, possibly one of the longest series ever, came back from some parallel dimension in 2005. The Sopranos made eight seasons until they were definitely liquidated in 2007, even if they will always be able to do vendetta in a future. The very much-acclaimed The Wire had six seasons until it said goodbye in 2008. An entire generation of young adults was forever traumatised by the puzzling ending of Lost, which reached six seasons before forever dissipating into the surreal back in 2010. The acid House retired from medicine (or whatever he ended up doing) in 2011. Breaking Bad said goodbye in 2013 after five highly acclaimed seasons. Futurama appeared in 1999, took a break, turned back again and finally disappeared in 2013adding eight seasons. 24 did not reach the same number it wears on its title, but reached the respectable figure of thirteen seasons in 2014. The endearing How I Met Your Mother had nine until its recent death also in 2014. And The Mentalist seems to have recently said goodbye after seven years.
(Perhaps the most famous scene in the entire series)
But there are many other series that, for sure, will stay for a while: The hyper-famous Game of Thrones counts five seasons, a series based on a novel saga called A Song of Ice and Fire that although born as a trilogy in 1996 counts nowadays seven titles, certainly without any influence from all the success gathered by the TV series. CSI, which has also created its own franchise of four different titles, is now on its fifth season. Grey’s Anatomy counts ten years. Mad Men counts eight. Community counts six. Bones ten more. Supernatural counts a dozen. The Walking Dead counts five. The Big Bang Theory counts eight. Modern Family counts six. In case there were insufficient Batman comics and movies going on Gotham adds two more seasons. And so on, and on, and on.
(Many series have been released recently, here’s a short summary for guidance)
Waves that lead to more waves
But all this is not only on cinema or on TV. Apart from all the marketing and merchandising coming together with any major Hollywood release, from board and video games to comics and portfolios, clothes and many more (which are also arising from TV series) here there are these other more general trends broadcasted on many different media at the same time, like that recently surpassed (though not completely) zombies fever, which was preceded by another perhaps less productive fever focused on vampires, and that led somehow to the current superheroes fever, unquestionably led by the Marvel universe, but not only.
That is, 15 years ago there we were living the boom of the great vampire novels somehow inaugurated by Anne Rice and her Interview with the Vampire, then Twilight´s deeply mediocre deliveries came, as well as Underworld´s gothic universe or the thug Blade (one of its songs even became a disco hit). Soon we found ourselves embedded in watching The Walking Dead´s last episodes or comics, reading World War Z´s book or watching the film (the former option much more advisable than the latter), and seeing a real flood of comics, books and others always focusing on the undead, to the extent of some people even participating in zombie walks.
Now hovering around us are all those Avengers and Fantastic Four, Batman and Superman back from somewhere they had never really gone away from, while all that less mainstream public enjoy Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) or Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), all this while many other characters wander around us without really succeeding due to their ridiculous concept or some risible film adaptations, such as Ant-Man, Daredevil or The Ghost Rider. And all this while any regular bookstore is full of books of all kinds focusing not only on those supernatural creatures mentioned above, but also on the genre of magical fantasy, no doubt taking the most of Tolkien´s success.
(Twilight The Game must be yet to come, we all look forward to it)
The summer songs and the musical hits during the rest of the year
Music is another reflection of this insistent phenomenon, from which the clearest example might probably be the song of the summer, that glib and catchy theme repeated over and over during the summer period until even its own authors start hating it, a trend that became popular during the 80s and the 90s, with the help of songwriters that, in being so ridiculous, perhaps managed to remain in the innermost, as Georgie Dann, Raffaella Carrà, Paco Pil, Lalo Rodriguez, Zapato Veloz, Los del Rio or Proyecto Uno among many others, always accompanied by that latineo protagonised by Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Cristina Aguilera, Gloria Estefan, Shakira in her commercial phase, Chayanne and many others.
(For all those who want to evoke past sessions of brain drilling)
But it has not only to do with the scary summer song: turn on the radio any day at any time of year and you will see how commercial pop music rules by far, relegating almost to oblivion rock, folk, classical music, indie… Only electronic music survives, and poorly, relegated to certain hours of the night almost always at the weekends. That one together maybe with Latin American music, lately submitted by electro-latino and reggaeton, which is a very sad consolation. But not only on the radio: switch on the TV and many advertisements and shows will surely have the same melodies playing on; get into a pub, a club or a disco and music will be of the same type, if not even exactly the same songs repeated again and again and again along the same single night; even most of the film soundtracks will reflect the same trend.
(This is how reggaeton landed in Spain back in 2002, when it still seemed to harmless)
Fads in rapid succession, and perhaps increasingly silly
Rivers and rivers of ink could be spent by talking about repetition, because repetition is essentially what anyone who follows a fad does, and today’s trends appear and are immediately replaced by new ones in rapid succession, increasing their pace over the years until reaching perhaps a frenzy, while they try to permeate more and more social spheres.
(Metrosexuals got very strong at the time in many areas)
Let’s take a quick look at some of those fads that had come to live in the 2000s ignoring the aforementioned vampire, zombies, super-heroes and others who, as we have seen, have gradually taken control on films, TV and libraries: metrosexuals, who apparently gave way to ubersexuals at some indefinite and indefinable point; Bratz dolls for young girls; emos and vampire-emo-teens inspired by Twilight sagas; flash mobs; Blackberries and iPods; High School Musical; abbreviated slang with which youngsters communicated on sms and chats; whatsapp´s endless groups; Zumba classes; slim-fit trousers and culottes; hipsters; 50 Shadows of Grey; runners; pin ups; kitten videos; women who wax and shape and redraw their eyebrows for some reason; scooters; balconing; planking; playing Warcraft online; the challenge of cinnamon on youtube; reality shows; reality shows about chefs and cooking, reality shows about already famous people playing any kind of game show no matter what but better if ridiculous…
(Cooking sometimes seems to have become something very intimate…)
A few more, what the hell, it is worthly: the go-pros; colour bracelets showing solidarity towards some particular cause; MySpace; Minecraft; twerking; Dora the explorer; the return of mini-shorts; power balances; Tinder, Meetic, Badoo and all those online platforms you use to flirt; giving your personal photos a touch on Photoshop; selfies and selfies sticks that are even banned somewhere (link); Steve Jobs becoming a technology guru, then a business guru, then a life guru in general, memes…
(Memes War in South Park)
Repetition, repetition, repetition
It can always be argued that, both in terms of styles and content, every existing work is actually based on some previous work in some way or another. Bernard of Chartres used to say that “we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants”, meaning that any improvement or innovation within any given field is pretty much based on all those works others have previously achieved and on which the latter pioneer always supports himself when raising the bar a little bit more higher.
When it comes to culture everything is somehow based on some previous work, no doubt about it, and it is well known that comedy gags copy each other periodically, that those universal and timeless plots (like boy-meets-girl) continue to inspire humanity, that those authors from the past still influence our current ones… etc. That is what a classic is. But one thing is perhaps getting inspiration from some previously existing content, another thing is copying some previous content, and another one is repeating it over and over and over again, no matter whether it was an original or a based-on-a-previous-work content.
(Some more stupid Internet fads just to close this article)
(read this article in Spanish here)