Entertainment choices: Reflection of one’s persona

The never-ending disputes about controversial preferences do make one wonder about the distinctive perspectives the world has to offer. Although some might believe pineapple on pizza is an abomination, others consider it a treasure. What drives people to choose a remake rather than an original? What is the motivation to prefer a book instead of a movie? Why does a particular individual stick with a movie genre and skip the rest altogether? With more profound insights into the clashing opinions, here are some anecdotes that would help us understand the raised questions.

The fault in our stars: Book vs Movie

Having sold almost 10 million copies internationally, The Fault in our Stars (2012) is a globally acclaimed novel that follows the heart-wrenching story of two teenagers who, during what might be the final chapter of their lives, find themselves more fiercely alive and in love than they have ever been. 

Film adaptations of best-selling novels are often highly anticipated with audiences curious to witness if film adaptations can paint as accurate and impactful a picture as the book, if not more so. This might be a herculean task that not all movie adaptations accomplish, but The Fault in our Stars did its best as a faithful adaptation. 

Directed by Josh Boone and released two years after the book was published, the movie received generally positive reviews. Although the film was carried well by the stellar performances of the cast and solid writing, a whopping 71% of poll respondents chose the book over the movie. Let’s dive into the possible reasons why:

  1. Inconsistencies in the movie: Oftentimes, some of the intricacies in the storyline of the novel are omitted in the movie owing to the limited duration of the movie. But these inconsistencies are often what set the two apart. For instance, John Green portrayed the progression of the disease more elaborately and delicately, unlike in the movie wherein this journey seems more shortened and abrupt. 
  1. The weight of expectations: Film adaptations often carry the weight of the expectations from the audiences owing to the novel’s impact, and are unable to meet them. 
  1. Experience and impact: The overall experience of reading a book at one’s own pace, feeling the impact and perceiving the characters and their journey the way the authors intended could never match the experience of watching a two-hour movie. 

Movie: The girl on the train – Original vs Remake

Some remakes aren’t just as good as the original; they are even better. A few of them successfully update a classic story for the new generation audience, while others dig deep into the source material and mine new ideas. Either way, remakes are a homage to the original, and contrary to popular perception, superior in one or more ways.  

When a movie is remade, visuals, pacing, storytelling, and actors change, all of which can profoundly impact the audience. From the movie makers’ perspective, it is easier to interpret, adapt and remake a movie than to make one from scratch. Remakes are also associated with lesser risk since they guarantee a part of the original work’s fanbase. 

The remake under consideration is the 2021 mystery thriller, The Girl on the Train (2021), starring Parineeti Chopra and Aditi Rao Hydari as the lead characters. A staggering 72% of the poll respondents chose the original over the remake, and here’s what we think could be the reasons: 

  1. The remake is always worse than the original: A rather bold assumption made by moviegoers, there have been several noteworthy exceptions to this statement, including The Lion King (2019), A Star is Born (2018) and Sholay (1975). While remade movies try to recapture the thrill and mystery of the plot albeit with local interpretations of characters, the belief that the remake would never outdo the original has been perpetuated for decades now that it is hard for us to unlearn and believe otherwise.
  1. Inflated expectations on the remake: In addition to upholding the storyline, remakes of classics are expected to meet the high standards set by the original. Reviews floated about the remake not being “as good” as its Hollywood counterpart may have severely impacted the former’s revenue. 
  1. Ardent fans of the original: A section of the audience may be devoted fans of the original storyline, characters, or genre that they don’t mind re-experiencing its adaptation. But when given a choice between the two, as witnessed in the poll, the original takes the cake. 
  1. Cast: We presume that those who have watched the original hold biases concerning the cast starring in the remake. They are perhaps averse to the idea of their favourite characters being replaced by actors whom they consider unfitting and ultimately favoured the original. 

Spectre vs. MI: Rogue Nation

Most movie franchises don’t survive more than a few iterations but these two surely defy the norm. Two of the best actors, riveting action-packed storylines, epic background scores and what not! James Bond and Mission Impossible are among the greatest movie franchises, but not all of their movies click. What do people have to say?

61% chose MI over 007 and we explore the potential reasons behind this response:

  1. Star Cast: 007. No. 24. Daniel Craig. ‘Nuff said. It’d seem almost impossible to click the other button. James Bond has grown into everyone of us as an icon and it has become hard to look past this mammoth of a character, but Tom Cruise might disagree as the centrepiece of Mission Impossible. There’s always a heated discussion around who plays Bond best, and that might have led to viewers going against Daniel Craig. Regardless, Tom Cruise is a class act.
  1. The Influence of Expectations: We have to take into account the previous releases from the two franchises (Skyfall, 2012 and Ghost Protocol, 2011). Skyfall, in particular, had received a hugely positive response from all viewers and that might have prompted our respondents to expect a tad more from Spectre, which by no means was a bad movie, only that it couldn’t satisfy the audience’s high expectations.
  1. Old is Gold? With 23 other movies under its belt, James Bond is the winner in terms of hype and the fanfare (which extends across generations!). But we could, in a sense, argue that with so many movies under its belt, the story-lines of James Bond movies seem to clash and it always feels like a Bond movie you’d already watched. On the other hand, Mission Impossible is relatively fresh and the makers make sure to have you glued right through.

The Matrix vs The Shining

The Shining is a 1980 horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, and The Matrix is an action film by Andy and Lana Wachowski filmed in 1999. 

The poll was a battle between one of the greatest Sci-fi movies and one of the greatest horror films ever to exist. 

The Matrix appears to have won the duel, with the movie gathering 70% votes. Let’s see what the reasons could be,

  1. The Cast: Though not as popular as Jack Nicholson back then (Starred in the Shining), Keanu Reeves is no doubt the internet’s sweetheart since 2019. Keanu Reeves played the lead role of Neo in the Matrix, who is a cybercriminal and a computer programmer. He accepts responsibility but never lectures on moral goodness and doesn’t shy away from violence when it’s necessary.
  1. The Setting: This is a win-win for the Matrix as the movie explores the dangers of technological advancements that may lead to the complete annihilation of humanity(A concept popular among the current generation). The movie takes place in a dystopian future, 200 years from the present.
  1. Popular Lines: Many of the lines from the Matrix have stuck with the internet even after 20 years since its premiere. One such line is the Red Pill or Blue Pill. Taking the red pill means the willingness to learn a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth, while taking the blue pill means remaining in contented ignorance. Even Elon Musk tweeted on this saying, “Take the red pill.”

As evidenced by our polls, there may be factors affecting our choices that are beyond genre, actor or whether it was an original or a remake.

Research on individual differences in preferences for entertainment is based on interactionist theories which assume that people prefer content that satisfies psychological needs. Thus, just as individuals seek and create social and physical environments that reflect their personalities and self-views. It is postulated that individuals seek specific media content that reinforces their personal attitudes and dispositions.

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