Today on Nobody Actually Cares About Your Childhood: the role of alcoholic, misogynist superspy James Bond goes to a motorized drone, the most alcoholic and misogynist of all motorized technology. Fans everywhere are in an uproar mainly because they haven’t realized they don’t have to see the film.
Art from our childhood is usually viewed as the quintessential version of that piece of art. It’s difficult for us to detach ourselves from the media we take in. Good media sticks with us and imbues us with an emotional connection with it – which makes it difficult to come back to it and look at it critically.
It’s even more difficult when another interpretation of that art exists. Remakes, reboots, sequels, continuations – any re-imagining of a particular art or media puts the original in jeopardy. To go even further, it puts whatever sentimental attachment we have associated to such art in jeopardy.
Take for instance Paul Frieg’s Ghostbusters remake: A film lambasted right out of the gate. From its casting to the trailer, which became the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history, people were determined to hate this film because it deviated so much from the original version.
Andrew Titus, a professor of creative writing, acknowledged the well-known consensus of the Star Wars franchise to further the point.
“If you talk to aficionados they say almost unanimously that the originals are the best and the prequels that [were] created with all the CGI and all that is garbage,” he said. “The latest two are excellent because they seem to harken back to their original idea.”
Titus explained fans obsess over the original manifestation of something and hold it with high level of regard. Fans of art and media consider the original to be the quintessential version of a concept.
“Let’s just take Spider-Man as an example. Those original stories are weird and awkward, sometimes sexist or racist, and yet people would look at the modern manifestation and say that it’s not true to the original and that’s how I’m going to evaluate it,” Titus said.
However, Titus acknowledges the presence of the artist within society, and deems them the prevailing force behind media.
“Joseph Campbell, a mythologist, once said, ‘that a living vital mythology must respond to the material conditions which means that if the story doesn’t change then it will die,’” Titus said.
“People in the business of pushing art forward see that there’s an opportunity; you wouldn’t want a monster movie in this day with balsa-wood models smashing each other apart, and artists themselves know that.”
Liam Browne, a third-year at St. Thomas, points out nostalgia isn’t only about childhood. Our critical evaluation of art and media also seems reliant on our emotional state at the time.
“I don’t even think it’s about being a child where external forces unrelated to a piece of art can affect how you feel about it.” he said. “You can be a fully grown adult and be in a great place in your life and you associate this piece of media as being good or as bad if you’re in a bad place in your life, [a judgment] completely unrelated to the merits of it.”
“Right in the childhood” or “our childhood is doomed” are colloquialisms associated with whatever reinvention of some pop culture iconography comes our way. Browne also expressed his criticisms and concerns over the idea that your childhood can be ruined by a reinvention of old media.
“I hate it because it really discourages the idea of something new,” he said. “The idea that a new piece of media can harm old ones creates the idea that we shouldn’t try to create new media in order to preserve the old stuff. We’re constantly looking back and never looking forward and that’s dangerous.”
Jason Arnold, manager of comic book store Strange Adventures, addressed the idea of a remake overlapping the original.
“Making the new one doesn’t make the old one disappear,” he said. “You see it [in] comics. People are like, ‘Well, I’m going to throw away my old Batman comics because I don’t like the current Batman.’ That’s not really the way it works. You still have that older version, nobody has changed that. Nobody has ruined it.”
Comics are constantly being remade, with DC comics retconning their ‘superhero universe’ with an event known as Rebirth in 2016. This started a new continuity of comics, which included redesigns of iconic characters and storylines. This was done following fan backlash from a similar event five years earlier known as The New 52.
“Part of comics from Day 1 has been about evolution, so the idea that there is this one static version of these creative, artistic expressions is a bit naïve,” Arnold said.
Arnold urges fans to understand that despite their love for the originals, remakes and reinventions are bound to happen. It’s simply part of the business.
“As hard as it might be for some of us who value the nostalgic, sometimes you just got to go with the flow. Change comes whether you like it or not.”
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