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Could we have a Little less Nostalgia, Please?

02 Apr

I confess I might be a tad grumpier than usual today, goslings. I attribute this condition to a combination of my naturally surly disposition, and a headache that has been plaguing me for close to a day. That aside, I would like to present you this as a prelude to discussion:

Have you watched it yet?

No?

I”m not going to keep talking until you have?

Done? Good.

For those of you who were to young to have lived through the relevant era, this wasn’t a real cartoon. However, what it does is brilliantly sum up the essence of various cartoons and televisions shows from the 70s and 80s, and that essence can be summed up with a single word: feculent.

I can already hear many of you crying foul, citing your fond childhood memories of He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, Silverhawks, Robotech, or whatever your poison of choice was. I say thee nay! Oh, I certainly won’t deny that many of us, particularly those of us who identify as geeks, have fond memories of these television shows. They were often played an integral role in the shaping of our nascent geekhoods. That doesn’t mean these were good by any reasonable standard. Quite frankly, they were often poorly written, over- or poorly-acted, had production values that could vary widely in quality not only from season to season but even episode to episode, and generally were not good. Yet we loved them as children, and from that love has arisen the willingness to endow these shows with qualities they never possessed. We do not love these things because they are good; they are good because we love them.

This is one of many, many reasons I’m getting tired of the outcry whenever some beloved childhood property gets a modern remake. Were the live action Transformers films terrible? Yes. So was G.I. Joe, and TMNT as directed by Michael Bay will likely also smell richly of shit, because that is how he rolls. Yet none of these properties are ruined by this fact, because they were never good to begin with; all that Michael Bay et. al. manage to accomplish is to add a new stench to an already rich bouquet of stink.

Even if, and that is quite a large if, these properties managed to overcome their own mediocrity when analyzed with an eye unglazed by the cataracts of nostalgia, the existence of these remakes does not somehow ruin our childhoods. Much as is the case of the Mass Effect 3 ending, our experiences with these television shows, they way they delighted us, the ways they helped to shape us, have already occurred. Barring an accident of the Phineas Gage sort, the onset of severe dementia; there is also the very slim chance of my being proven wrong about the non-existence of time qua time, and thus the possibility of time travel existing outside the pages of fantasy; this cannot be taken away from us. Beyond this, people who like to throw around the term “rape” in relation to these remakes need punched in the mouth repeatedly. Possibly until they die, because I’m tired of having to tell people the same thing more than once.

I’ve talked about the ways in which fictional stories can touch us, and we enter a type of emotional ownership with them. I understand that we can feel like these “inferior” remakes are somehow an insult to the things we loved. Except that isn’t true, because many of those things we love were already crap, and the existence of a new, also shitty version, does nothing to remove the experience that we once had. So while I’m perfectly willing to stand up when I think objections are valid, this isn’t one of those times. Bitching about these remakes solely because they’re remakes of things we love is nothing more than whiney fanboyism. Now fucking well quit lest I be forced to cut you.

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2 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Geekery, Pop Culture

 

Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Could we have a Little less Nostalgia, Please?

  1. David Schmitt

    April 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    FINALLY! Words I’ve so often said in YouTube replies (gods help me) about the unrealistic memories on the quality of shows in our past. The day my eyes were open is when I tried to rewatch the Transformer (the originals). I could barey get past the initial 3 episode arc (in fact I didn’t). Really, really bad. Remakes don’t go to your house and wipe your memories, they are just someone else’s interrpretation along with what they think will make it relevant.

    Comic creators for Marvel and DC do it everyday when they write Superman, Spider-Man and Hulk. Only difference here is the cartoons and live action shows (I’m looking at you Battlestar Galactica, you poor excuse for sci-fi from the 70’s) had a finite run and did not have the chance to evolve with the times like a comic that runs forever.

    Don’t mean to hijack this excellent blog so I’ll finish with a :Total Agreement.

    P.S. If you can still enjoy the old shows, that’s a gift worth cherishing, but don’t be blind to its obvious flaws and say they aren’t there.

    Also, I agree with using gay in a derogatory term makes you look like an ignorant asshole.

     
    • Josh Benton

      April 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks for the comment. For me the revelatory moment was Thundercats rather than Transformers. I had a co-worker who was obsessed with Thundercats, so I decided to rewatch it so I’d have something to talk about nights I worked the late shift (I worked tech support for corporate end users – 90% of our calls came in during first shift). It was horrible. I didn’t even make it through an entire episode.

       

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