Borrowing Themes: How Media Inspires Itself

Borrowing Themes: How Media Inspires Itself

Over the decades, entertainment has become a self-perpetuating thing. Successful movies and TV franchises tend to find their themes cropping up in video games, stage shows, and comic books, while one sudden craze tends to lead to another, just as zombies chased vampires throughout the 2010s. Of course, now, the raft of superhero media has become a truly exhausting thing – yet it seems to be here to stay. 

This borrowing of likenesses, plot elements, and character tropes inevitably takes a mostly unofficial form. After all, genres, no matter how specific their boundaries, are far from sacred things. Just as the recent popularity of battle royale or ‘last person standing’ games goes well beyond recent examples like PUBG or Fortnite, the venerable zombie has long since transcended the pages of George A. Romero’s notebook.

Spaghetti Westerns

Oddly enough, public interest seems to be cyclical, with one of the oldest entertainment genres – the Western – serving as a good example. Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s were themselves a revival of a 1930s trend, while Django Unchained and the Rockstar-produced video game Red Dead Redemption brought the Western genre back into fashion at the turn of the last decade.

Thanks to the second part of Rockstar’s cowboy game, the Western is again in vogue. The 2021 Netflix film The Harder They Fall contains the same thematic elements as any Clint Eastwood movie would, such as revenge plots and outlaws. However, today, this kind of Western is known as Revisionist. It’s not a typical good-versus-bad story. The main character may be downright evil. 

Thus, things change whilst remaining very much the same. Of course, genre fans rarely remain the same across generations, so attracting new demographics requires modern techniques. For online casino brands, appealing to fans of the Western meant using elements of the film genre in games like Dead or Alive II. These might include traditional characters and dusty, gritty mise-en-scène, otherwise known as set dressing. 

A Fistful of Dollars

Iconic pieces of entertainment tend to leave an indelible mark on popular culture. There would be no Red Dead Redemption without A Fistful of Dollars and no Resident Evil without Night of the Living Dead. It’s possible to expand this thought considerably, by wondering if the survival horror genre of video gaming would exist at all without the influence of George A. Romero’s ideas. 

This lifting of older themes for newer projects does seem to work. Dead or Alive II is regarded as one of the best online slots out there, as evidenced by its ranking on related directories and the consistency of the positive reviews the title has received. The game features the likeness of icons such as Jesse James and Billy the Kid, characters that might otherwise be unknown to modern audiences. 

Overall, media cannot exist in a vacuum. Ideas exist because of other ideas and Western tropes (for example) will sometimes fit quite happily into other genres. It’s all a balance of creativity and just how much directors and writers are willing to risk for their art.

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