Scott Horowitz | October 16, 2021
Hey all... there seems to be a big trend lately in bringing Intellectual Proprerty (IP) from the 1980's back for Streaming Services. We've had sequel series and reimagined series. While I enjoy seeing some things come back for nostalgia purposes (love me some Masters of the Universe), it seems that Original ideas don't seem as popular as the reboots. Granted there are some exceptions to that theory, but what do you think of everything that we loved coming back?

Scott Hardie | October 16, 2021
Some products of the 80s-nostalgia trend have been really good by repurposing the period elements towards telling a story with new things to say (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Stranger Things come to mind, and I'd include WW84 if its ideas weren't failed by clumsy execution), and others have been fun if not important or groundbreaking (I enjoyed Ghostbusters and Coming 2 America).

But I worry about culture becoming an ouroboros, eating itself until there's nothing left. Art must necessarily build on what came before it, but it's not supposed to *copy* what came before it, and worse, it's not supposed to copy so frequently that it chokes out originality at all.

Consider other categories of pop culture that were once open to widespread innovation that are now dominated by a handful of legacy brands:

• Toys of the boomer generation innovated with enough classics to fill Andy's toy chest in Toy Story, but since the 1980s we have kept remaking TMNT and Power Rangers and My Little Pony and Furbies and He-Man over and over again. Give or take a Beyblade or Skylander, there are few breakthroughs any more.

• Candy used to be a wildly innovative industry, but in recent decades, consolidation has left us with a few big brands that keep marketing the same Snickers and Starburst and Skittles and so on. If your kids today are getting the exact same candy for Halloween that you got decades ago, there's a serious problem with cultural stagnation.

• It's been argued for some time now that newspaper comics are being dominated by boomer nostalgia like Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and Blondie, some of them continued on by new creative teams after the original writer-artists died of old age, and others just being endlessly reprinted, to the point that new artists have no way to break in.

You see it in plenty of fields, from Christmas music (they're all the same boomer-generation songs, give or take a Mariah Carey hit) to Nintendo games (that company keeps repeating the same IP over and over again so much that one critic said that it's "turning into a museum of itself").

So I worry about there being so many remakes and reboots and "reimaginings." Sequels are bad enough -- I remember the 1980s era itself being chock full of endless sequels, where it was normal to see a fourth or sixth or eighth film in a series -- but at least those have continuity and take place in a world where the preceding films also happened. Remakes and reboots just keep serving us the same shit forever as if it's brand new. We as a society have got to start demanding newer and better.

There is hope: Among board games, there are still plenty of legacy titles like Monopoly and Scrabble and Clue lingering around way too long, but there has also been a huge renaissance of innovative new games since the late 1990s that shows how much room there is for something new, with modern classics like Ticket to Ride, Catan, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Dominion, and many more (although some of those are now sadly trying to saturate the marketplace Monopoly-style). If that field can enjoy a revitalization, there's hope for others.

Scott Hardie | October 23, 2021
Sorry to derail this. I didn't intend to do that. :-(

Are there 80s revivals that you'd like to see again, or any so far that you especially liked?

I enjoyed the new Unsolved Mysteries series on Netflix. It looked terrific and successfully married that classic hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck creepiness of the original series with a very modern docu-mystery format. I was glad to hear that it has been renewed for more episodes next year.

Scott Hardie | December 9, 2022
Following up on this:

There has been a growing lament for some time now among cinephiles, including influential directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg*, that entertainment franchises like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Fast & Furious, Mission Impossible, and so on are taking over the cinema. With each passing year, Hollywood seems less and less interested in making non-franchise pictures, leaving it to smaller independent studios like A24, Lionsgate, and (ugh) the Weinstein Company to finance the kind of high-brow and middle-brow movies that grownups want to see (and that get good reviews, and that win Oscars). If you read opinion pieces online about the movie business like I do, you see a lot of this sort of thing.

What I wonder is, is that trend not another form of the same phenomena that I described above that's happening in industries like candy, toys, and newspaper comics? The changes happening in the movie business are discussed in a vacuum, but I think it's worth considering them as part of a larger tendency towards creative stagnation that's caused by huge companies protecting and exerting their brand dominance, aided in some cases by vertical integration. Is going to a movie theater and seeing only "Fast & Furious 17" and "Jurassic Park 9" on the marquee not the same thing as going to a grocery's candy aisle and seeing only Snickers, M&M's, Kit Kats, and other standards? We talk about the decay of one art form, but we should be talking about decay of them all.

*I'm including Steven Spielberg because I recently watched an interview that he gave about The Fabelmans in which he lamented how hard it is to get a movie like that made and released today with so many franchises hogging the screens, but I find that more than a little rich from a guy who recently produced his fifth Indiana Jones movie, sixth Jurassic Park movie, and seventh Transformers movie. Few people have done more to cause Hollywood's current mentality about franchises than this guy.

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