It can’t be denied. We live in a society where sequels and remakes run rampant. Remakes and re-imaginings seem to make up half the headlines on any given day. We’ve had two Spider-Man franchises in 10 years. That’s crazy, right? Where have all the new ideas gone? Why can’t we leave what is sacred alone?
It has become an evermore common cry amongst audiences that Hollywood seems to have run out of new ideas and is falling back on old material. It’s a bad sign for the industry and society itself. We have become so mundane and zombie-like in our entertainment tastes that we’re not capable of enjoying something if we don’t already know we like it.
First, let’s give ourselves some credit. We are decidedly not zombies. We enjoy fine dining experiences that include all parts of the body as well as those not of the body (i.e. vegetables, if you follow my zombie metaphor).
It is ridiculous to say that Hollywood has run out of ideas. People can’t run out of new ideas. Creativity cannot disappear or be quashed. At this point, the only thing stopping new and creative ideas from getting to our eye-balls is money. The people who run Hollywood are generally going to go with an idea that they know is going to make money, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Second, with that silly assumption aside (as well as the money bit) it dawned on me that maybe the Millennial generation is partially to blame for this sequel society vortex we find ourselves trapped in. I am a Millennial, so I speak from the inside. Of all the characterizations Millennials get, deserved or not, I have found one to be decidedly true: We flipping LOVE nostalgia. We would eat it for breakfast if were digestible and life-sustaining.
Buzzfeed is a great source for satiating that desire to relive our adolescent and teenage years – not because we somehow missed out on them like our grandparents who were born during the Great Depression, but because in general they were pretty happy and awesome years. Here’s a sampling of articles on the front page of Buzzfeed:
21 Little Mistakes You Might Not Have Caught In The Toy Story Series
22 Signs You Were Raised By Stephen Sondheim
25 Important Style Tips Rayanne Graff From My So-Called Life Taught You
Craigslist Missed Connection Or The Plot Of An Episode Of Friends?
23 Absurdly Lame Things That Happened To Superman, Batman and Robin
29 Reasons “UHF” Is The Greatest Weird Movie About A Fake TV Station Ever
I’m only halfway down the page at this point and it’s perfectly clear that nostalgia is a BIG source of clicks, views, likes, and shares. I’m sure all of you have noticed Buzzfeed taking over Facebook walls and news feeds everywhere, and I am as guilty as the next of jumping on the nostalgia train. Pretty soon we’re going to be nostalgic about Facebook and how it used to be a thing.
VH1’s “I Love the…” series! Hello! Even its cousin, Best Week Ever essentially played off a sense of nostalgia (is that show still on? I think it might be?). It wasn’t so much reporting weekly news as making fun of it, as if from a by-gone age. “Oh, hahaha, remember all the cooky stuff that happened last week? Those were good times.”
I think this love of nostalgia is in part of what is driving the sequel society. The most important demographic for industry producers is Adults 18-49, and guess what generation continues to flood that demographic as they grow older? Why, us gosh-darn Millennials with our fondness for looking back on the good ol’ years. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
I also don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, nor is our outcry against excessive sequels and reboots hypocritical. We do have a sense of things as “sacred,” as evidenced by the recent reactions to a possible Charmed reboot as well as a sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life. We enjoy recalling the past but we also recognize when nothing can compete with the original and it’s time to move on. And like most human beings, we crave new ideas and inspiration.
I suspect (and hope) this sequel society is nothing but the entertainment industry stumbling into its own adolescent years (the film industry hasn’t inherently changed that much since its inception, it’s just gotten bigger). The internet entertainment industry, if you don’t know, is BLOWING. UP. All those “creatives” that don’t have the connections to get on TV or in movie theaters are making amazing and unique content online, often available for free, giving rise to really incredible communities that are unique and thought-provoking and mutually-inspiring (not unlike Hypable as a haven for fandom). The Hollywood entertainment industry is going to make babies with the internet entertainment industry and those babies are going to be beautiful.
Call me an optimist (what a terrible thing to be!), but I feel pretty confident Hollywood will come out of this sequel stupor soon enough. They might be preying on our desire to remember the past, but they seem to underestimate our desire to make our future even more awesome. And in a few years we’ll be at the reigns and we’ll make it happen.