Today, courtesy of numerous streaming services like Netflix we are able to access numerous shows and movies at the touch of a button. Even though there are a million new things to watch we are all guilty of watching reruns of old shows; Friends being such an example. This is a challenge for new shows to achieve such an iconic status where people are willing to go back and re-watch it no matter how many new shows are there. This proved to be more poignant during the ongoing pandemic as we saw many casts of old shows and movies reuniting via zoom bringing back all the nostalgia.
As a generation that grew up in the 90’s we were blessed to have some of the best TV and movie content that defined our childhood. Let’s face it the only thing that got us through school was that we could go home and watch our cartoons (after doing our homework of course) such as teenage mutant ninja turtles, Asterix and Obelix, Dragon Tales, Dennis the Menace etc. As most of us didn’t have cable at that point chances are you watched them in either Sinhala or Tamil and for a quite a while had no idea of the English names of characters. Watching cartoons on a Saturday morning without a care in the world will always be an incomparable memory. Even as we entered our teen years we continued to watch Ben 10 and SpongeBob Squarepants and for most of us this marked the end of our childhood. Yet when we hear that there is going to be a reboot or remake of the original it doesn’t necessarily make us happy.
Hollywood too seems to be feeling the nostalgia for in the recent past alone there have been plenty of remakes and reboots as opposed to brand new content begging the question as to whether they have run out of material and need to make a quick buck or really believe that the classics need an update.
Although the animation has gotten better thanks to more upgraded technology the characters don’t necessarily look better and this is evident with the new cartoons (just check out cartoon network). The other trend of cartoon remakes is to turn it into a live action remake as they did with teenage mutant ninja turtles which is getting a second remake with Seth Rogan in addition to a reboot of the Magic School Bus with Elizabeth Banks in the titular role ( hopefully they don’t ruin this classic).While it is exciting to see your favourite cartoon characters brought to life it doesn’t always seem right as they sometimes end up looking completely hideous as opposed to the animated versions or the storyline just doesn’t fit compared to the older simpler ones.
Even when considering series, although a few of the series had sub-par dialogue, cheesy jokes and didn’t necessarily deal with ground-breaking issues as they do now, they somehow they made it work. Whenever we need to chill after a long day these are what we resort due to the familiarity and nostalgia it brings out such as One Tree Hill, The Nanny, Ugly Betty, Mind your Language etc. Hence today we see Hollywood rebooting certain series such as Full House, 90210, Charmed and Gossip Girl, often with a time jump to show them as adults, drawing a parallel with its fans who are also grown up now.
By far the movie industry is the biggest victim or benefactor, depending on your perspective, of reboots and remakes. We have our blonde chick flicks or simple feel good movies like high school musical being subject to this new trend. Although it has its fair share of cringe worthy moments it is still one of those movies we will watch again because let’s face it the songs are pretty catchy and we’re all guilty of belting out Troy’s and Gabriela’s iconic duets or Sharpay’s over the top solos. Even Mean Girls has been remade into a Broadway play.
Disney has recently raked in a lot of cash as it has remade most of its cartoons into live action movies. Yes the animation back then doesn’t offer an out-of-this-world visual experience as it does now but back in the 90’s it was a pretty big deal. Some of their remakes include Aladdin, Lion King, Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast, Mulan and in the future Hercules. It is fair to say that while some were box office hits others were overshadowed by the animated version and for good reason. Although the story is the same sometimes the characters aren’t as appealing especially when the CGI is not done properly or the songs don’t convey the emotions you felt as a child.
Another major difference is the voicing of characters; in the past, as opposed to purely celebrities voicing them, it was mainly voice actors which really added to the effect of the songs and characters. Most of the iconic songs were courtesy of such voice actors whilst there were a sprinkle of celebrities such as Elton John and Michael Bolton who also managed to make it iconic and irreplaceable in their own way.
Marvel another movie making giant has over 20+ successful movies in its MCU franchise however they too have failed in rebooting certain movies such as the Fantastic 4 franchise, Spiderman and even X-men (give or take a few movies). However not all remakes and reboots are failures as Jumanji, another classic movie, successfully managed to break the curse given that they made quite a few changes to the storyline as did Jurassic World.
Music too faces this issue mainly in the form of remixing. Most remixes done of old songs have become a hit as it makes the newer generation aware of the quality of music that used to exist- songs such as Africa, I’m having the time of my Life, Don’t stop believing etc. however even this industry goes wrong when artists tend to only rely on remixing old songs or remix songs which absolutely don’t need one such as Hey Macarena.
Lately it has gone down another avenue as we see old bands reuniting. The Jonas Brothers and Boyzone have proved that their rebooted comeback music is even better giving newer bands a run for their money. Recently JLS, Big Time Rush, The Spice Girls and the Pussycat dolls have also hopped on the bandwagon bringing back nostalgia for every teenager-now-adult fan and also welcoming a newer and younger fan base. This also reiterates the fact that old is gold.
So why is Hollywood and its stars continuing down this road?
While we can complain that Hollywood seems to be in it for the quick buck most of us are willing to at least go and check out some of these reboots even though we all complain that ‘it doesn’t need a reboot or that the original can’t be replaced.’ We see that actors too are quick to jump on these projects even though it is riskier to act in a reboot than in a brand new production. So why do it? It is a given that the pressure is more in trying to get the look right and pay homage to the character but the probability of success is equally high.
However there is new content which has proved to be a success in their own way. The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Stranger Things, Fast and Furious, Mission Impossible, franchises based on popular books like Hunger Games and Game of Thrones and even new animated movies like Frozen, Moana, Brave and Coco. Even the music industry has never seen so much new talent than the present so it doesn’t seem that Hollywood has run out of content. They just need to get more creative and open minded, no biggie.
While remakes and reboots are a way of updating the original they sometimes end up making us miss the latter and is a constant reminder that future generations may only ever see the remakes and reboots. If Hollywood limits their remakes and reboots to the absolute necessary ones or only resort to doing so once they have a great script it might actually get people excited as opposed to having everyone groan when they hear a reboot or remake being done. Here’s to hoping that the next few remakes and reboots don’t disappoint!