Abby Answers: When is Nostalgia Necrotic?

Please, Nostalgia, Just Back Off a Little

I’ll admit it—I saw the Will Ferrell version of Land of the Lost. It had Danny McBride and those great trailers of Will telling Matt Lauer to suck it, and it was a legacy of something I watched when I was 7 and was still trying to drink milk out of the plastic pusher from an orange push-up pop. How could it lose? Needless to say, though, me—and lots of other movie-goers—were fairly disappointed. But looking back, I’m starting to think it’s society’s fault and not Will Ferrell’s. (Not the Bewitched remake though—that’s all on Will.)

As movie-goers and television-watchers, we seem to only want what we know we already like. That’s why most everything in theaters is a sequel or universe expander, and actors have to sign contracts to do 9 subsequent movies before they are cast. It’s why there are so many spin-off TV shows. If one thing is good, we just want more of exactly that. And this is really nothing new—spin-offs and sequels have been happening for a long time. But now, nostalgia is becoming a huge factor—and this is where I am displeased. Remakes.

Jem! ah-ahh! Savior of the universe! Jem! ah-ahh! She'll save everyone of us! Jem! ah-ahh! Savior of the universe! Jem! ah-ahh! She’ll save everyone of us!

OK, nostalgia, we get it—everything from 1985–1999 is covered in a sparkly-and-wavy-pink dream border with “Dreamweaver” being softly crooned in the background. We all have cherished childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons and TGIF and Jem and the Holograms. But how many times can we tarnish, or worse, straight out burn, these properties before we stop dipping back into nostalgia for our entertainment needs?

To my horror, as I mentioned before, there might be a Full House reunion/remake. There’s going to be a CHiPs movie—is that necessary? (Editor’s Note: No, it’s not. – Ponch) Can’t we just make up new California Highway cops? There’s going to be a Jem movie. 21 Jump Street is now probably going to go until 42 Jump Street, despite Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s self-effacing jokes. And has anyone watched Girl Meets World and stuck with it? (Editor’s Note #2: No, they haven’t – Topanga’s career) Are you as enchanted as you were watching Boy Meets World when you were 11? (Confession: I was never that into Boy Meets World, and I haven’t seen Girl Meets World… but it seems like a herculean task to remake that show into something both kids and adults would like now. Most shows I liked when I was a kid were dumb, and shows for kids are still dumb. Just watch the Disney Channel for five minutes.)

These days, it seems like someone remembers a show they watched when they were a child, mentions it to one other person—and all of a sudden there are breathless Buzzfeed lists about how we need a live-action Rugrats movie now! Or Reddit posts about how someone is rebuilding the set from Legends of the Hidden Temple in their backyard! Or there is going to be a Tetris movie! (Even though I just wrote it, I feel like there’s no way anyone, outside of a studio executive, could say that last sentence with the exclamation point.) The nostalgia is so strong, no one takes a moment to remember if this is something worth chasing down.

“I didn’t see if she was hot. Should we still pull her over?”

I can’t think of a remake based on a nostalgic children’s show or movie that I’ve liked. They’ve all turned out badly, despite being marketed squarely at my demographic. (Although feel free to prove me wrong by mentioning something in the comments!) So why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Let’s just all agree that we liked Saved by the Bell when we were 13, and we shall never speak of it again. Nobody needs to see a weird, behind the scenes Lifetime movie about it now, because it’s not the same. So nobody freak out about it, and we won’t all have to awkwardly discuss it at work the next day. It will be better for us all. Trust me.

About The Author

Abby Penning

Following in footsteps the likes of: Nora Ephron, Frances Fitzgerald and Eppie Lederer, Abby seeks to hone her opinion into a sharp and decisive tool used to inform and educate the masses - unless they don't agree, then she just beats them to death with it. Also a lover of pop-culture and friendly debates (arguments), Ms. Penning finds the world of modern entertainment so fascinating and compelling she can't contain her thoughts on what she consumes! Educated, articulate and opinionated, Abby's most distinguishing feature is her ability to work a minimum of 4 jobs for 80+ hours a week (Isn't that called work-a-holic?) When asked, "Why do you work so much, Abby?" she simply posed, "Who would do it better?" (Just kidding, I can't actually publish what she said.) Make sure to cruise her column, Ask Abby..., and to Contact Us with your questions for our thoughtful editor.

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