Quotes: Follow the Leader

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    Anime and Manga 
That's how culture spreads. When someone has a new idea, it's immediately copied. It's only natural for this to happen. Your job as the original is to publish magazines that are of a higher quality.
U.N. Mediator, Humanity Has Declined

Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

File off the serial numbers, change the body lines a bit, give it a new paint job, switch it over the state line, and it's yours! —that's the secret of literary success. Editors always claim to be looking for new stories but they don't buy them; they buy 'mixture as before.' Because the cash customers want to be entertained, not amazed, not instructed, not frightened.

    Live-Action TV 
Openings with lots of zeroes
All we get are superheroes!
Superman, Spider-Man, Jedi-Man
Sequelman, Prequelman, FORMULAIC SCRIPTS!
And after
Fifty Shades they'll all have LEATHER WHIPS!
In a world where our brains are becoming machines
The only screen we are watching
Jack Black, 87th Academy Awards (shortly before Anna Kendrick throws a shoe at him)

TSA Agent: NCIS? That anything like CSI?
Tony DiNozzo: Only if you're dyslexic.
NCIS, "Yankee White"

Cooper: You watched my videos yet?
The Angry Video Game Nerd: Nah. What is it, "Super Video Dude?"
Cooper: [Offended] Naw, man! It's "Super Rad Video Game Dude"!
Nerd: Ah. Rad.

"Word of mouth,
this is what everyone is talking about.
So you can tell somebody
to tell somebody
that the next big thing
is the same old thing."
John Reuben, "Word of Mouth"

"Though I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
To do Black music so selfishly
And use it to get myself wealthy!
There's a concept that works
20 million other white rappers emerge!"
Eminem, "Without Me"

Bemusing, how much money and effort go into the making of such a movie, and how little thought. It's months of hard work—for what? The movie is essentially an Alien clone with a fresh paint job. You know something's wrong when a fearsome tentacle rears up out of the water and opens its mouth, and there are lots of little tentacles inside with their own ugly mouths, all filled with nasty teeth, and all you can think is, 'Been there, seen that.'

    Video Games 
I invented the First-Person Shooter, you know. Wish I hadn't bothered now. Have you seen how many of the things there are? I expect there's even a Space Marine in this game somewhere.
The Lord of Games, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

    Web Animation 
It is an unfortunate fact of life in the world of entertainment that the unique is rarely successful, and indeed, the successful is rarely unique.

And when the dread god Cthulhu in his cosmic throne sneakily crosses his legs and cracks one off, causing the stars to align and something to come out that is both unique and successful, it's all but guaranteed that it will not be remaining unique for very long, as the imitators arrive to bring out a few golden calves for everyone to worship while Moses is fannying about the mountain.

I know they copy ''WorldOfWarcraft'', and I know they do it because they hope THIS time they will take a slice of WoW market and maybe make everybody there rich... I also know with so many MMORPGs doing the same thing, they will be luck[y] if instead of a slice, they get even some crumbles.

    Web Original 
Large swaths of the scenes are clearly there to tick off boxes. An entire subplot exists not because anything happens in it but to give the comedy robot, who is easily the worst comedy robot I have ever seen, an appropriate number of jokes. The show is cynical and uninterested in doing anything but stringing together action sequences with a plot basic enough that nobody will fail to follow it.

As with its creator's previous Star Wars ripoff, Battlestar Galactica, the series enjoyed some brief popularity before getting canned. It was in no way what audiences wanted, but rather an attempt to give them something supposedly just like what they had previously enjoyed but, in practice, nothing more than warmed over and cynical attempts at capturing what Blake's 7 can't manage even with some top notch creators on it. For those who want to argue that Star Wars killed science fiction there is little better ammunition.

Yo dog I heard you like ripping off movies, so we put a ripoff of Temple of Doom in your ripoff of The Hangover so you can rip off while you rip off.
ComicsAlliance on Smallville ("Fortune")

Poor Pete Ross: a character so inconsequential, he never even achieved 'sidekick' status. Eventually Ross left the show, and most of us forgot he was ever a part of it. Before that could happen, however, he had to have a spotlight episode in a last-ditch effort to squeeze some substance out of his character. And what says small-town nice guy better than... illegal street racing?

None of this makes any sense. Smallville has approximately one street, two signs ('Welcome' and 'Thanks for visiting') and maybe a flea market. Even if we're meant to believe he's 'fallen in with the wrong crowd' that somehow doesn't get caught, the stupidity is compounded when we learn that the cars are fueled by kryptonite. Episodes like Season Three's 'Velocity' were meant to cash in on the popularity of recent movie releases such as Fast and the Furious. It's not the last we see of this ratings ploy...In one of the most blatant knock-offs of a popular movie franchise ever, Smallville featured an entire episode with a sadistic killer in a creepy mask, elaborate death traps, and a ticking clock on which time is running out. When Lex Luthor's father and Ma Kent (?!) are kidnapped by a deranged psychopath, Clark must come to the rescue before the audience falls asleep.

The whole idea of CSI Cardiff is laughable, with aerial shots of the city at night looking for all the world like the most chic place to hang out in England…The zooms over Wales between scenes are supposed to be really hip but they just remind me of the spinning cuts between scenes in 60’s Batman.

Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling TNA Wrestling (previously known as Total Nonstop Action) is a television show starring Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Jeff Hardy. It also features guest appearances by wrestlers from ROH, TNA, WCW and recently ECW. Recently, the show has declared that is it going to be more shoot; it will feature real-life scenarios on camera, making it as bad as shows like The Hills.

First she came for Madonna,
and I didn’t speak out because I’m not Madonna.

Then she came for Boy George,
and I didn’t speak out because I’m not Boy George.

Then she came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Michael K. (parodying Martin Niemöller) on Lady Gaga

This helicopter footage is accompanied by really bad ‘operatic’ music, no doubt intending to recall Apocalypse Now. And to the extent that I find myself muttering, 'The horror…the horror…' well, mission accomplished.
Jabootu on Steven Seagal's The Patriot

Jerry Bruckheimer tells me, 'No, we can’t do 2 ½ hours of things blowing up.' I defended, “Well, we could, actually. See, here’s what I’m thinking: ‘Titanic.’ Huh? Over a billion dollars worldwide. Three hours…love story…human tragedy…only nothing blew up. WE can blow things up!”… “Who’s gonna play the chick?” someone asked. I hadn’t thought of that. Cameron had Kate Winslet, whom nobody ever heard of. So I thought, ‘let’s get another somewhat obscure art-house non-American actress named Kate and see what happens.’ To make a long story short, we got Benny Fleck and Kate Beckenslavage, or something like that.
Colin Souter, "Michael Bay's Diary"

This movie aims to be a comedy, but ultimately, the real punchline is that it got made in the first place. It’s based on a comic book published by Dark Horse, so I’m guessing someone somewhere thought, 'it’s a comic book movie, and people love comic book movies, so it’s gotta make money!' They should have run that idea past the makers of Scott Pilgrim or The Losers to see what they thought.

The original Alex's face was pinned over the machinery, a human face stretched over the corporate machine to make it more acceptable. The new face looks like someone wearing a face-forming helmet, because Iron Man really made a lot of money and Hollywood really is that blatant.

And finally, Great Gatsby was the answer to the question “What if Boardwalk Empire were directed by a prick?”

What they can’t destroy, they absorb. They’re like Dracula (DraCula?)…'Aha!' says this imaginary version of DC, 'I get it now! The reason they liked Marvel, which was going for a slightly older audience, the reason I had competition that cut into my sales after bestriding the Earth like a mighty colossus for three solid decades, was that they wanted things that were mature. All that stuff that I used to do that was for kids, about cartoon characters with superpowers facing down weird situations, that wasn’t mature. They want violence and blood and cusswords and crying and moping and boy howdy they definitely want a whole lot of rapes. And since I can only do one kind of thing, that is what I must do.' Seriously, they have been chasing that dragon so hard that they actually did more Watchmen comics in an effort to drum up past glory.

The success of Marvels showed the Big Two that there was a market for stories set in the past starring characters that the audience had grown up with. That (Kurt) Busiek is a fantastic writer who can push characters into the future even while tying everything into older continuity (as he did in Avengers Forever) was largely ignored. All the Big Two saw were dollar signs in stories about the past. Naturally, they went too far in one direction, and now we're inundated with these kinds of comics. It's not Busiek's fault (hence the "unwittingly" in the title), but he definitely pointed the way.

Marvel has had some success with darkening up their universe and giving away secret identities like SweetTarts on Halloween, so DC is looking to do the same. And here's where I can't help but feel a little insulted. In looking to draw new fans more interested in a darker, more bloodthirsty type of comic, DC is willing to alienate the older fans who've been with them all along.

Eragon is, bar none, the most complete and shameless rip-off of Star Wars ever xeroxed. Not even Turkish Star Wars stole as brazenly … The meanie in me says that Lucas could probably be accused of stealing the plot for that from half a dozen samurai movies, but the fan in me still doesn't care if he did. They didn't have hyperdrive in Hidden Fortress!

    Web Video 
Don't send in the clones
already here!

This season is the introduction of Cole Turner, a half-human, half-demon lawyer … Since he's half human, he switches between being Julian McMahon and this big, Darth Maul-looking guy. I'm not kidding, that's what his makeup was meant to emulate. You can pick anything to be inspired by, Charmed. Any mythology, folklore, animal or person, real or fictional...and you chose a character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Hat's off to ya.
Allison Pregler on Charmed Season 2

Hey, remember when Taylor Swift had, like, a personality? This is the first song of hers that can be sung by anybody. But it's probably not the last.
Todd in the Shadows on "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Jay: Well, this is a case of somebody in the studio system, some executive saying, "Who's hot right now? Oh, John Stamos! Vanity! Let's get all these people in a movie. What is popular right now in movies? Oh, Mad Max and post-apocalypse movies are popular, too! So our villains will inexplicably be Mad Max villains even though it doesn't make any sense!"
Josh: Right at the beginning, they're starting off with scenes of Gene Simmons, and he's leading this broken-down amphitheater full of freaks, and I was like, "Oh, it's gonna be post-apocalyptic." And then they just cut to John Stamos doing gymnastics.
Best of the Worst reviews Never Too Young to Die (1986)

Look, I'm not gonna say you can't manufacture a guaranteed hit movie based on a mathematical formula. If you apply metrics and statistical analysis to human behavior well enough to assemble a winning baseball team out of otherwise-middling players, or correctly predict election results in defiance of once-ironclad political logic, I'm sure you can use it to make a movie.

It's just that the actual solid models for that don't actually exist yet, so Hollywood opts to use stupid models to try to achieve the same results.

For instance, if Johnny Depp clowning around in makeup and/or some kind of a stupid hat was the main shared element of three big-budget effects-driven movies based on well-known but questionably-viable nostalgia properties, then clearly this big-budget movie based on a well-known but questionably-viable nostalgia property also requires Johnny Depp and a stupid hat!

Yahtzee: I do love me that Ragdoll Physics in my 2-D platformers! That's what gets me, though, about gaming these days: Why the fuck does something like X-COM need a Physics Engine?
Gabriel: Stuffing a sandwich full of foie gras. You're not helping.
Let's Play Flashback (2012)

Imagine you're trapped in outer space with a genetically-engineered alien superpredator; it's terrifying right?

Now imagine you're trapped in an Employee's Only section of a baseball stadium with a curious security guard, and—that's a whole lot less terrifying isn't it? But both problems are solved with the same solution: Open up your inventory, duct-tape together a noisemaker right there on the spot and throw it at a wall.

It's logical. It works. I makes sense, I guess. But it's also ubiquitous. And what's unfortunate about ubiquity is that it hurts the enjoyment of all games that share those similarities, regardless of their individual quality...There is incredibly diverse amount of ways to interpret how to point a gun and shoot it at a thing. Play Receiver, then Metroid Prime, then MGS3, and note how none of them feel like the same old mix-up between Splinter Cell and RE4 that is the modern default...The entire survival horror prototype of RE4 was scrapped and replaced with a more straightforward shooter that just controlled and played extremely well—so well, in fact, that the 10 years of "progress" made since then doesn't really look like progress at all.

In super happy video game land some things are about as sure as the sun coming up. One is, if a game is successful there will be a sequel, the other is if a game is successful, it will be copied.
Bajo, Good Game 23rd November 2009 Episode



    Western Animation 
Animation is built on plagiarism! If it weren't for someone plagiarizing The Honeymooners, we wouldn't have The Flintstones. If someone hadn't ripped off Sergeant Bilko, there'd be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound, ''Chief Wiggum, Yogi Bear? Hah! Andy Griffith, Edward G. Robinson, Art Carney.
Roger Meyers Jr., The Simpsons, "The Day the Violence Died"

    Real Life 
Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
Fred Allen

Andy Warhol: Everybody looks alike and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way. I think everybody should be a machine. I think everybody should like everybody.
Q: Is that what Pop Art is all about?
Warhol: Yes. It’s liking things.
Q:: And liking things is like being a machine?
Warhol: Yes, because you do the same thing every time. You do it over and over again.
Art News, 1963 interview

In the wake of its outsized success, seemingly every sitcom on television was a Friends knockoff. There was working-class Friends (The Drew Carey Show), gay Friends (Will and Grace), guy Friends (Men Behaving Badly), girl Friends (Caroline in the City), black Friends (Living Single), nerdy Friends (The Big Bang Theory), and rebooted Friends (How I Met Your Mother). Everywhere you turned on TV, there was a posse of pals sitting around a living room or a bar or a coffee shop or a science lab, trading quips and exchanging furtive glances.
Saul Austerlitz in Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes, on Friends' impact on the American sitcom

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by and they CANCELLED MY FRIKKIN' SHOW. I totally shoulda took the road that had all those people on it. Damn.
Joss Whedon throws shade on Robert Frost

By the time we hit national TV, and were exposed to a national audience, a lot of our best stars were gone to either WCW or WWF. And we came off looking like WWF-Lite.
Joey Styles, Forever Hardcore: The Documentary

Find a fish tougher and more terrible than the great white.
Dino De Laurentiis to Orca: The Killer Whale's future producer Luciano Vincenzoni after seeing Jaws

A guy walks up to me and asks 'What's Punk?' So I kick over a garbage can and say 'That's punk!' So he kicks over a garbage can and says 'That's punk?', and I say 'No, that's trendy.'

The creators of the 'grim and gritty' comics that followed in Watchmen's wake are like 1960s musicians who declared, 'The Beatles have revolutionized popular music! We must copy their haircuts!'

I have all these people trying to hop aboard the Arpa express hoping that they become cool like me or earn my approval which will magically make their M.U.G.E.N video career somehow. That contest I originally held for the lulz might become the mental death of me...

Fox Publications was the poverty row of comics, their characters all completely and utterly derivative. I once asked the creator of the Blue Beetle, their most important character, what on earth possessed him to create this character named after a bug. He told me, in two words: Green Hornet. [Laughs] Well, there you go.
Jim Steranko, Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle

In addition to great gameplay, the mid-August arrival of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is ideally timed. The horror movie-fueled summer of 1999, that began with The Mummy, is reaching full fruition with the cult hit, The Blair Witch Project, as well as The Haunting, Lake Placid, Deep Blue Sea and The Sixth Sense.
Eidos Interactive 1999 press release for Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

So getting Soul Reaver in stores around the same time as a bunch of shitty horror movies that have nothing to do with Legacy of Kain or even with fucking vampires was more important to Eidos than releasing a game that wasn't just half-finished. It's a good thing I never quit smoking; otherwise I might be forced to take it up again.
Pat R.

Something that jumps up from the crowd — only to hit its head on the ceiling — is always better in my eyes than''
the games that keep their heads down and risk nothing.