I absolutely love tracking the genealogy of fiction – I love that you can follow from Rio Bravo to Assault On Precinct 13 to Hot Fuzz, and I loved going from The Sopranos to Dostoevsky. One thing I have come to terms with recently is how many of my favourite artists can actually be seen as having had a very negative effect on the pop culture landscape, to the point that I have sometimes joked that the better an artist, the worse an influence they have on the culture. Quentin Tarantino movies are great; Tarantino-esque movies tend to be bilge. People see a Great work, want to recreate the feeling of shock and awe it gave them (or at least the amount of money it generated), and run into two problems: one, they have not had the sufficient time to fully process the way their new fave works – it is literally too soon. Two, by definition, recreating something from the past will destroy the novelty factor.
This makes me wonder: what are works that have spawned the best imitators? Can you define a work’s Greatness by the quantity and quality of those that come after it? To what extent does the quality of a work’s imitators overcome the quantity of its imitators? I still look askance at movies that claim Tarantino influence. On the other hand, the glut of crappy Seinfeld imitators dropped off decades ago while its positive influence – especially on Solute favourite It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – feels like the only thing that remains. On the third, mutant hand, the best answer I can think of is the James Bond movies; I don’t particularly care for the original article, but so many things I really like have Bond’s fingerprints all over them, whether through parody, homage, deconstruction, or reconstruction. Bond’s biggest strength is its powerful iconography, which lends itself well to influence.