Woo-ooo! -Image retrieved via Disney.com
The premiere of the new DuckTales series--and a two-hour psychoanalysis of my older sister's relationship with video games--has me thinking about nostalgia and why it's as problematic as it is integral to our identity. Now, and the future, are going to happen to us whether we're ready for it or not. Dwelling on the past for too much is an unhealthy thing. I think we know that. But subconsciously, I think many of us are caught up on yesterday, and I think it's important to recognize that before it's too late.
With that said, here's my little contribution to the topic. I can't say I'm an expert, but I hope it strikes accord with you somehow.
Let's talk DuckTales for a second. I have the entire original series on DVD, and it's one of the few DVDs I've kept over the years. Ironically, I've only watched some of the episodes. But yet, I have it, and that's that. DuckTales doesn't hold much real estate in the nostalgic section of my heart's community. It owns a small condo in a high-rise. If the DVDs were to be lost, I can't say I'd be broken about it, but I'd imagine I'd feel a tinge.
The remake is coming up soon, featuring the talents of Ben Schwartz, Danny Pudi, Kate Micucci, Toks Olagundoye, and of course, David Tennant. As expected, the audience response was polarized. Comments on the latest trailer sound something like:
"Why not just re-release the old ones?"
"This is gonna suck."
"The voices sound weird."
"This is not gonna be as good as the original."
"This is not the same."
Watch the latest trailer for the new DuckTales series
Pause for a second. "This is not the same" is the one comment that keeps popping up, and I think it's the one we need to talk about. The new series is not going to be the same: this is a true statement that is laced with resentment as if it being true is simultaneously wrong. The new series isn't going to be the same, and that's kind of the point. A remake that is exactly the same as the one before it is plagiarism. It's a rehash. It's a rerun.
I don't know what all to expect from the new DuckTales. We know who the core characters are, we have an idea of what their personalities are like, and we have a pretty good grasp on the basic settings of the story. What we don't know is how the scenarios and the subtext are going to differ from the original series. So, "this is not the same" is only partly true. We know some of what this is, but we also recognize that there is going to be new elements to this series. And for many, there's something wrong with that. What's new and unfamiliar is uncomfortable, especially when you're taking a piece of nostalgia and you're reinventing it.
Newness is a challenge. It presents a setting where the outcome might spell disaster. We don't know what to expect, and since we're not kids with infinite curiosity to learn (or at least have been conditioned to not explore much as adults), we'd much rather rely on what we know. Let's experience what we've experienced because we know the outcome. There's nothing wrong with this, but it can be a limiting characteristic.
I'm going to break this down really quick, and I'll dig further into this topic in a later blog. But here's the thing: fear of new things, neophobia, is real. We should acknowledge it and respect it. It's a legit feeling. But acknowledging our neophobia does not absolve it from consequences. If we aren't careful, our nostalgia and our fear of newness might leave us behind.
The new DuckTales may introduce new themes that will lead to conversations within its audience. It may spark thought as much as it sparks laughter or interest in its plot. Will it be better? Well, that's a relative thing. Are we going to watch it? If not, our kids might.
New experiences generate new conversations, new ideas, and often critical thought that lead down new paths. Saying no to that is prohibitive, restrictive, and unfair to the future you. Consider this, were you upset when you watched Battlestar Galactica in 2004? Because that was a remake.
What we experience is not going to be the same as everyone else experiences, and this especially holds true for the people who are younger and older than us. But if we allow ourselves the courage to take on this newness with an open, empathetic mind, we may learn something new about our past experiences and our contemporary ones. And I mean that inclusively: me, you, your mama and your cousin, too. Let's learn together, because nostalgia is shared.
That part, I'll go into next week.
What do you think about nostalgia? Do you think you look to the past too much? Too little? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned for the next entry in this series!