Film fans love to harp on Hollywood for being too focused on all the remakes, reboots, and sequels. And yeah, let’s be real, it would be a lie to say that the industry isn’t focused on trying to recapture its success. But in a world where we carry every form of entertainment in our pockets, studios have to be competitive in order to compete financially. There is something, however, that is lost along the way. While we do get original ideas, it’s very infrequent that these ideas get sent to the big screen with the same weight behind it as your average superhero flick.
As sad as that can be, there is something pretty magical about us living in the age of nostalgia. We no longer have to grow out of the things we love, and so long as we keep loving it, and make our voices heard, there’s a real solid chance it’ll get picked up again at some point down the line. Just off the top of my head we have shows like Fuller House, Girl Meets World, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lethal Weapon, Gilmore Girls, Training Day that are based on the success of a previous franchise.
Speaking with THR, Avengers writer and director (not to mention TV legend) Joss Whedon gave his two cents on the world of reboots in which we live, and why audiences seem to want to keep revisiting these old franchises.
“I think because a lot of people are doing it. And there's a lot of head-scratchers. I'm sure they'll be rebooting According to Jim soon. Is the nostalgia bank so goddamn secure that we can just keep withdrawing from it? And this is coming from a man who's made a movie or a comic book out of every show he's done. Somebody has to move on. We have to create new things for people to try to reboot. It's something we all dreamed about. But then what happened? The sudden ending of My So-Called Life is only slightly less painful than the sudden ending of Firefly for me. I understand that feeling of, "We love this, and we can have it." I was pitching a fan-funded Firefly to my agent before that was a concept. I see a little bit of what I call monkey's paw in these reboots. You bring something back, and even if it's exactly as good as it was, the experience can't be. You've already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time. You have to meet expectations and adjust it for the climate, which is not easily. Luckily most of my actors still look wonderful, but I'm not worried about them being creaky. I'm more worried about me being creaky as a storyteller. You don't want that feeling that you should have left before the encore. I don't rule it out, but I fear that.”
He brings up a great point. While we do love our old shows that have long since gone away, those shows captured much more than just a good story. In your own head, you associate it with a very specific point in your life, and all the things you experienced in that time. As a result, even if the story is just as amazing, it’s hard to objectively see it as such, since we’re generally incapable of separating our own experiences from the media we consumed.
Let’s take Firefly, for instance. That show came in a very specific time in television where most stuff was episodic, and it dared to have aspects of serialization. It didn’t take itself too seriously either, which wasn’t necessarily the most mainstream of decisions, given that it was a sci-fi show. Those who did love it clung to it, and have a real sense of ownership, since it was so different at the time. But if the same show were to come around again, would it have the same impact? Probably not. The landscape has changed, and it likely wouldn’t resonate as deeply.
Perhaps Whedon is right. Perhaps we all need to move on from this idea.
What do you think of Whedon’s comments? Do you like the current era of reboots and remakes we live in, or is it a stain on creativity? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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