Reboots are a dime a dozen these days, and many fans of the original properties — myself included — have become frustrated by Hollywood’s latest trend. But maybe we should be a little more open-minded.
Let’s get one thing clear, shall we? I’m not calling for the end of original screenplays in Hollywood. I don’t think reboots should be the go-to pitch for writers and directors and producers. But I also don’t think they’re a sign of the apocalypse.
Face it: Reboots are nothing new. You know The Mummy starring Brendan Fraiser? Yeah, the one we all love so much. It’s a reboot from 1932. The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews was actually a remake of a German film called The Trapp Family from the mid-’50s. Even Al Pacino’s Scarface is a remake of a 1932 film.
I could keep going (really, the list is nearly endless), but you get the point. Remakes and reboots and re-imaginings have existed for as long as storytellers have been telling their tales.
What makes a difference is what you do with those remakes.
Not long ago, I was one of the people yelling from the rooftops that I didn’t want anymore reboots. The one that hit me the hardest was the aforementioned Mummy, and I made sure I told the world what I thought about the idea of it being remade.
To be perfectly honest, I still don’t want that Mummy remake. There are a lot of reasons why it didn’t work and one reason why it did: Ahmanet. Imagine if the movie had been remade in Ahmanet’s image. It would be a completely different story stemming from the same source material as Brendan Fraiser’s Mummy.
It could have paid homage to its past while creating something new for the future.
And that, right there, is why I’ve started to look at reboots in a different light.
My favorite television show of all time is Charmed. Judge me if you want, but this show informed my childhood. It opened up my imagination in a way nothing else ever did. I wanted to be just like Piper Halliwell. I wanted to live in a big house with my best friends (I was an only child). I wanted to practice magic and make potions. I wanted a cat and pretend it could turn into a person. I wanted to defeat demons and save the world.
Charmed was, far and away, my first obsession. So you can imagine what it felt like to hear about the reboot. I’m pretty sure I went through all five stages of grief. First I was in denial that it was even happening. Then I was angry that they would try to improve upon a show I already loved so much. Next was bargaining: If they brought back the original cast, it might be okay. Depression came next as I realized that was never going to happen.
Finally, there was acceptance. This was happening, and despite that, it would in no way replace the original in my heart.
It was actually ReWatchable’s round of Buffy the Vampire Slayer discussion that helped me realize that any reboots made of something I loved as a kid was not made for me. It would be made for kids who were the same age I was when I experienced these movies and television shows for the first time.
And you know what? That’s pretty awesome.
Sure, they could go back and watch the original, but I don’t think it would hit them as hard. I watched Star Wars for the first time just a few years ago, and while I can recognize why it became such a cultural phenomenon, it didn’t impact me the same way it did for many kids, teenagers, and adults in 1977.
The reason why so many people still love the original Star Wars movies to this day is partly because of nostalgia. But it’s also partly because it spoke to them in a way nothing else did back then.
When I was just a kid watching Charmed, I may not have understood what feminism was, but I did see powerful, beautiful, strong, independent, and smart women on my television. It’s the same reason so many people, especially young girls, gravitated toward Buffy. Few stories put the spotlight on women in this manner, and we all took notice.
But what happens when you revisit those properties as an adult? Maybe you’re still wearing rose-colored glasses, but if you listened to ReWatchable discussing Buffy, those glasses were probably knocked right off your face. I know they were for me.
Nobody would argue against Buffy‘s impact of pop culture over the last 20 years. It’s clear and evident how much it influenced the genre and how many people were inspired to create their own artwork because of the show.
But it’s also clear that it’s a product of its time. Characters like Xander would be frowned upon today. While we still struggle with representation in 2018, writers have gotten better at pushing back against racial stereotypes. Willow and Tara’s relationship could have been more open and prominent.
And as much as I love Charmed, it’s about three straight, white women living in California.
If a teenager today watched the original Charmed or Buffy, they might like it and understand it and enjoy it, but would they really get it, not having grown up in the ’90s and early 2000s? It’s doubtful.
While I wish the new Charmed wasn’t capitalizing on a name-brand and concept while simultaneously changing core aspects of the story, I do appreciate that they’re making a television show fit for a modern audience. The three leads are women of color and one of them is a lesbian. This show is already doing much more in terms of representation than the original.
Granted, I was still skeptical. This is my favorite show of all-time, remember. But after watching the pilot at SDCC, I realized this is the kind of show that teenagers in today’s world need to grow up with. It still portrays powerful, beautiful, strong, independent, and smart women, but it also speaks to a modern audience in a way that the original couldn’t because of when it was made.
And that’s perfectly okay. The new Charmed isn’t going to replace the old one. It’s simply creating a space for itself to exist alongside the original.
It was also recently announced that Buffy was getting a reboot, too. This series is also set in the modern day, but it will feature a completely new Slayer. This approach is a much better way to keep the original fans on board, but alas, Charmed has already sealed its fate.
And these shows aren’t the only ones that have been getting backlash recently for being remade. Plenty of animated television shows are also in the hot seat, particularly Thundercats Roar and She-Ra, both of which have come under fire for a change in the animation style.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the style of animation I grew up on, whether it’s Looney Tunes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, or Scooby-Doo. It’s what I’m used to and it’s what I like. But it doesn’t invalidate any new reboots, remakes, or re-imaginings.
So let me say this one last time for those of you who may still be angry after reading through this entire article:
I’m not saying you have to like that all your favorite movies and television shows are being remade. All I’m saying it that maybe they’re not being remade for you. And if that’s the case, please don’t diminish other people’s feelings about the remake. Maybe they’re seeing themselves on screen for the first time. Maybe they’re relating to a storyline that hits particularly close to home. Maybe they’re finding magic in a place they didn’t think to look before now.
Your opinion is valid. And so is theirs. Perhaps the best solution now is to learn to coexist just like these original stories and their remakes.
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