Here’s why reboots should be canceled. Follow Jezebel’s Cancel Tournament to see what ultimately gets canceled.
Remember when Linda Hamilton rejoined the Terminator franchise for its most recent installment, Dark Fate? I don’t and that was last month. (To be fair, it flopped.) Beverly Hills 90210 came back this year in a meta-form in which the actors played themselves reuniting for a reboot within the reboot. Think Curb Your Enthusiasm and then think about how easy it was to do just that when faced with the utter charmlessness of the finished product. (It was canceled by Fox, literally.) Mindy Kaling followed her preposterous and dire (but at least original!) Late Night with…a Four Weddings and a Funeral series? Huh? There was a Breaking Bad movie that came and went a few months ago? The Twilight Zone was rebooted… this year… as developed by Jordan Peele??? That seems like it happened hundreds of years ago… or did it? Cue the doo-doo-doo-doo.
There’s so much nostalgia fodder, it’s no longer special or particularly novel. It’s just disorienting. It’s making the past and present bleed into each other. Granted, innovation is an extremely tall order in art, especially that which has been designed for the masses. To create is to be inspired. People have been rebooting. A Star Is Born has been remade three times (by that name, that is—countless movies have pilfered its concept without credit) and very few have complained. Legendary melodrama director Douglas Sirk remade movies years after they’d already resonated with audiences just fine. Aretha Franklin snatched “I Say a Little Prayer for You” right off Dionne Warwick’s tongue not a year later and emerged victorious, with the definitive version. Ever hear of the Bible? Shakespeare? Joseph Campbell? It’s called source material, look it up, sweetie.
I know I’m being fast and loose with taxonomy, grouping reboots (alternate-universe type spins that contemporize existing, often cherished, pop culture relics), remakes, and sequels together, but I think they’re all part of a nostalgia craze that is chewing through pop culture. Nostalgia is not bad in itself—we’re talking entertainment here so if it feels good, it’s usually all right—but resting on it is. Gotta bring something else along with it besides entitlement. There’s deriving inspiration and then there’s sleeping through the formulation of what’s being put out there. Disney is the worst culprit of this, with its unfailingly inferior wave of “live action” remakes of classic cartoons. Watching the expressionless CGI beasts trudge through The Lion King was like watching a bunch of abused circus animals being made to put on a show. Don’t get me started on fucking Dumbo, the heinous Aladdin, or the better-off-strays of Lady and the Tramp. Again and again I wonder why people aren’t more embarrassed.
The worst is when these things are contemporized in service of apparent social-media mores that demand entertainment be necessary before it is entertaining. Last year’s Halloween sequel (again named Halloween) is the perfect culprit of this empty gesturing, as it ultimately had very little to say about its ostensible focus of Laurie Strode’s trauma. In the end, it was just a crappy Halloween sequel. For the record, I have spent the vast majority of my life believing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a crappy Halloween sequel! They’re fun! Don’t come into my rec room and make them less fun by saddling them with the pretension of being a prosocial probe into the life of a survivor. Stupider movies have done more there without calling attention to it!
There are some good reboots, I guess. Twin Peaks was bound to be incredible because Showtime gave David Lynch a TV show and free reign. I hear Riverdale and Watchmen are good and I believe it. Does Into the Spider-Verse count? That’s like the most visually creative mainstream movie of all time? Definitely not resting on reboot. Child’s Play was fun, and Netflix’s Dark Crystal series was a 10-hour puppet show about a war between mythical elf- and raptor-like creatures. There was nothing easy, nothing guaranteed about that. There was nothing like it...except for the original 1982 movie.
What is next? Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which could very likely reaffirm that YOU CAN’T COMPRESS THE ENORMITY OF DUNE INTO A FUCKING MOVIE (why for the love of god has it not been made into a prestige TV series?). Also, and I’m happy to be proven wrong about this upon watching, but Timothee Chalamet is not my Kwisatz Haderach, sorry. Punky Brewster? Could you just fucking suffocate me by shutting me in a refrigerator instead? Mad About You? Who even are those people? A Friends reunion… thingie? Oh my god, I do not want to hear your whining when it sucks because they could not recapture the magic! Life is unfair and often unkind, but when you sign up for a reboot that turns out to be shitty, you were 100 percent getting what you deserve. You should know better by now.