Film, TV and games are special. They are the most popular way of telling stories and we as the human race become so vehemently attached to them. To me it’s a fascinating exploration of the human condition, to see how passionate people can get when it comes to their favorite movies and TV shows. And here’s the thing, I totally get it. The world totally gets it. I grew up watching certain movies, watching certain TV shows and playing certain video games. Is it weird that I can recite every line of Tremors or Michael Bay’s The Rock? Maybe a little weird. Do I become glued to my screen and pay attention to every painstaking aesthetic detail when I watch Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West? I do. But guess what I don’t do? I don’t go apeshit and become an annoying ball of negativity on the internet if the entertainment industry decides to reboot, remake or make a sequel to something I loved growing up. And neither should you.
I decided to write this article because all the swirling hate around the new Ghostbusters has finally made me want to spill my thoughts out in writing. This article is mainly aimed at those people who immediately come out of the gate with hate in their heart, and not just over Ghostbusters. Negativity is swirling in our culture right now. There are so many things wrong in the world, and entertainment is our escape. It’s our way to laugh, our way to cry, to be scared, to be thrilled all in the quiet safety of a dark room. So when I see the comments “ruined my childhood”, “this will suck”, “what a disgrace to the original”, “how could they?” it kind of grinds my gears.
I ask the question, why do you hate? Why do you automatically pass negative judgement? Why are you negative? There’s enough hate in the world. We don’t need your hate towards a harmless movie or TV show. We don’t need your negativity to the casting decision of the latest reboot or how in the hell could they have picked that director. We can do without your predisposed automatic hate. Why is it that remaking something or doing a sequel automatically means that your childhood didn't exist? And that got me thinking, why do people get borderline offended when something is “different”?
I’ll try to use some examples beyond the new Ghostbusters, such as the new Star Trek film series. Star Trek Beyond comes out this year, and we all know how passionate Trekkies are. Here’s the deal, I never watched Star Trek. Not a single minute of Star Trek before I saw the JJ Abrams reboot. And guess what, I enjoyed it immensely. Then I read up on it and see how so many diehard Star Trek fans say that it’s “not Star Trek”. So from their point of view they think it has now ruined everything that has come before it, and I’m here to say no it hasn’t. This incarnation of Star Trek is a reflection of the time it was made in, just like the past entries in film and TV are a reflection of their time. Just because these new Star Trek films are being made, doesn't mean someone is going to go back and delete the originals from the archives so no one can ever see them again.
Then there is the point where the Star Trek fans feel betrayed, which I also get. Like, hey, we are the true fans and we deserve a film made for us. Not an attempt of making it more mainstream. At this point we are getting into some pretty petty fandom frustration. When you’re argument is “But that’s now how it should be! The original character was…”, it just means you can’t accept that maybe your favorite series has evolved. Maybe the world is taking a good idea and evolving it, or hell maybe it's evolving into something bad. Either way though, it's changing and for some reason that's not good?
There is one film series that has endured time and is a testament to why it’s great to tell the same story over and over except by different storytellers. That series is James Bond. The James Bond films have survived from 1962 all the way to now. The first question that always pops up? Well, it’s always “So whose your favorite Bond?”. And almost always, it’s usually which actor who played Bond you saw first. People who grew up with Connery usually say Connery, people who grew up with Moore usually say Moore. Yes there are even Dalton fans as well. Me, I grew up in the 90’s and the first Bond film I saw was GoldenEye. I also played GoldenEye 64 for years upon years. But guess what, it inspired me to watch the entire film series and explore how different actors and directors approached this character. While there is always some gripe when a new Bond comes out, it rarely is met with predisposed hate as most reboots/remakes are. People are usually excited to see it even though he’s bagged the babe and killed the bad guy 20 something times before. James Bond is the perfect example of what storytelling is.
If your parents, uncles, aunts or grandparents read you stories and books when you were little then you experienced the whole idea of what we know now as the “reboot” or “remake”. If your mom or dad opened up Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham and read that to you when you were little, guess what? They did it in their own way, used their own inflections, maybe even changed their voices. Anyway, the point is that your parent read it in a unique way that no other person got to hear. The story will remain the same, but it will have tiny changes depending on who tells it.
A friend of mine once told me she had never ever seen The Lion King with the original English voice cast. She had always watched the Spanish dubbed version since she was little. She said when she saw the original cast version for the first time that it felt strange and different. She prefers the voices she grew up with, and hey that is totally awesome and okay! That always stuck with me and made me realize that we have no right to judge people on what they like or what they are attached to. Sure we can form our own opinions and I can say, cool, I grew up with the original and I like that. It doesn’t devalue my friend or the Spanish voice cast of The Lion King.
Let me tie this back to me one more time. I LOVE John Carpenter’s The Thing, it’s my favorite horror film. But guess what? Do I trash the original novella it was based off of? Do I trash the original film adaptation from 1951 titled The Thing from Another World? No. When the 2011 prequel/remake came out, did I think it looked kind of bad? Yes I did. Did I run an internet campaign of hate towards it? No. I ignored it. And guess what! No one came to confiscate and crack my Blu-ray in half of John Carpenter’s The Thing. It still exists and it’s still my favorite.
Coming up they are releasing a new and modern adaptation of Ben-Hur. Both this super-slick CGI Ben-Hur and the iconic film starring Charlton Heston were based off the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. I anticipate a generous amount of hate directed towards the new Ben-Hur, but guess what? Some people are gonna like this new Ben-Hur even if you or film critics trash it. You can’t stop stories from being re-told in different styles or ways.
In the end, that’s all that it is. Our favorite stories will be re-told over and over to new generations, because we enjoy hearing them from different points of view. Sure there are business decisions behind every film made, and sure studios want to make as much profit as they can. A studio’s decision to reboot or make a sequel can be a lazy one driven by profit anticipation, but the filmmakers behind the movie are doing their very best to tell a beloved story in a new way. Just like your parents tried to read you your favorite bedtime stories in their own special way. At the end of the day, these are just movies and tv shows. This marriage of moving pictures and sound is our entertainment, it’s our escape. It’s an amazing art form and it’s a reflection of us as a species. Films will always be a reflection of us, our lives and the current state of our society. They will change, they evolve and they will adapt. But our favorite stories will continue to be re-told time and time again. And I hope you understand that’s not a bad thing. Just because there is a new Ghostbusters or a new Ben-Hur doesn't mean the originals cease to exist. Just because Disney is choosing to do live-action versions of all their classic animated titles doesn't mean the originals have been replaced. Were they likely business decisions by the studio to reboot properties with built-in recognition? Yes, probably. But all the best stories will always have built-in recognition. It just means that the story means so much to people that it was deemed worthy to re-tell.
There are so many things to be angry about in the world, and I wish movies and TV were not one of them. The amount of effort people put into driving their negativity online is quite sad. It’s great to be passionate about things, it supports our individuality and uniqueness. We define ourselves by our favorite things, and that’s awesome. We’re on a planet with 7.5 billion people on it, so feeling special and unique every now and then is important. I get that seeing a reboot of your favorite movie of all time might trigger you to defend it and protect it like you were defending yourself, because yes we are so attached to what we love. So the new Ghostbusters might make someone who grew up and love the original feel obsolete and devalued, I get that completely. But I hope people embrace change and evolution as our society continually grows.
Let’s finish with Bond. So whether you grew up with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby (all 3 of you), Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig playing Bond. The point is, you probably like 1 Bond actor over the rest. You might prefer the Sean Connery forced kissing and lady-spanking Bond, or the goofy Looney Tunes antics of Roger Moore’s Bond, George Lazenby's awkward Bond, Timothy Dalton's straight-faced Bond, the spiffy one-liners of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond or Daniel Craig’s emotionless revenge seeking Bond. In the end it’s the same thing just told differently. We’re all entitled to love and hate things, but don’t take it so personally where you push your hate onto others. If you feel devalued simply because a different version of what you like is out there in the world, just remember that you can still define yourself with what you grew up with, and that makes it even more special now that others might define themselves with a different incarnation of the story. This goes for movies, TV shows, games, foods, religion, ideologies, clothes, hell everything. Be kind, people. Don’t add to hate, just take pride in individuality.