J.J. Abrams: self-plagerist?

Someone once said that you should always steal from yourself. Artists do this all the time. Of course it’s not always super obvious. It took Gene Simmons on a video to actually mention that the guitar riff in “Sure Know Something” is the exact same one from “Tonight (You Belong To Me)” for me to notice it.

But I digress.

Someone (actually Julia Turner from Slate) said in an article that J. J. Abrams, the creator of Felicity, Alias and Lost is a hack and self-plagerist because he borrowed ideas and themes from Alias for Mission Impossible III.

Now I know what a hack is, but I have no idea what a self-plagerist is. I mean, I guess if you write a novel and name it “X” and then take the exact same novel and name it “Y” and then sell “X” to publisher “A” and sell “Y” to publisher “B” we get an Algebra I problem, alphabet soup or something else. It’s too complicated for my feeble mind. Suffice it to say, I guess if you have one idea and it works don’t beat the dead horse. But isn’t there a saying that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? My head hurts.

Back to J. J. the hack. Well, of course spy/action movies will borrow from one another. I mean every James Bond movie since Goldfinger works off the Bond movie formula which Goldy pioneered. It’s successful. It works. Audiences love it. Much like the flashback writing technique that Abrams uses extensively on Lost and Alias.

Look, John Woo loves slow motion and white doves. J. J. Abrams digs using flashbacks to set the action in motion and get the plot screaming along. I think the Alias pilot used this technique perfectly. I haven’t seen MI: III yet, but I’m sure I’m going to see the Alias touches throughout the movie. Sounds good to me. Too bad Jennifer Garner couldn’t break out the flourecent pink wig for a bit of fun.

I don’t know if J. J. is a hack or simply employing the writing and editing techniques that have served him well over the years. All I know is, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.