‘No need to remember when / 'Cause everything old is new again'
“Everything old is new again.”
Lyrics by Peter W. Allen and Carole Bayer Sager.
"Nostalgia” used to be considered a disease of the mind, (the word is from the Greek two words; “returning to home”, (nostos), and for pain and suffering (algos). Though ancient in origin, one thing about the feeling of nostalgia bears certain understanding: The past is comprehensible only in the context of everything around it at the time.
There has always been a desire to share memories between people. We desire to connect, to share comprehension with the next generation. We hope to engage the minds and hearts of those who were not there, so they can understand the decisions and conditions of the past. We hope by doing so, it will help them to avoid the problems and challenges we had to face.
I am bothered, no, I am incensed at the motion picture industry’s seeming need to reincarnate the past, rather than resurrect it. These two attitudes, it seems, pits the needs of Hollywood, against the memory and fondness consumers feel when considering any of the intellectual properties from the past. Both have the same goal; to retain the gravitas, profitability, and potential star power the older shows and themes may still possess. The differences between these two may act to explain why some of these efforts work, and some do not.
Resurrection: Bringing an experience back to remembrance with all the attendant emotional links intact is nearly impossible. Doing so, such as in documentary, or even re-runs on new stations is fair and honest, allowing the viewer his or her own reaction in the context of when it is viewed.
Reincarnation: Consider Starsky and Hutch. Bewitched. The Addams Family. These, along with a myriad of other titles, have been dredged from the recesses of recent memory and for a variety of reasons. Attempts have been made to re-create anew the core intellectual property, but with an overt attempt to insert into those properties characteristics that are “modern”. This seems to be Frankenstein-like horror. In order to ‘renovate’ the characters in this manner, one disposes of colloquialism and archaic sentence structure. To do so is, metaphorically, tearing the soul from the role.
The second, perhaps more egregious, failure in pursuing a reincarnation strategy for a process, is the sullying or obliteration of a former actor’s rendition of particular characters. With Addams Family as an example, the sheer star power of Christopher Lloyd wiped out the creepiness of Fester as played by the immortal Jackie Coogan, instead incarnating him as clown, not the more familiar, flagellating freak I remember. I liked Raul Julia’s performance, but despite his raw emotional talent, he was no John Astin.
Conclusion: In all, this subject leaves me feeling as if someone has stepped on my grave. The truth is that we can never go home again. But in my opinion, we don't have to bring all the dead things back, either. It seems more peaceful to let them reside in requiem, and let me keep my memories.
Jonathan Albin, the ‘Game Market Guru’, transforming lives through Organized Play