I recently found myself watching the reboot of the Star Wars franchise which I did enjoy but in the way that you know your brain is tricking you into believing.
Marketing towards nostalgia is just another form of marketing towards pain, suffering and insecurity. It’s a way of saying ‘Remember that feeling you used to get called happy during older, better times?’ ‘For fifteen quid you can enjoy it again for a couple of hours until you stumble out of the theater in a hazy glow only for sad, crippling reality to hit you in the face.’ Nostalgia does literally come from the combination of the ancient Greek words ‘nóstos‘ meaning homecoming and ‘álgos’ meaning a literal pain or ache something that those in advertising are acutely aware of as they try to peddle you there wares.
I found myself wondering what in the world children today will have to be nostalgic about when everything released is a remake, reboot, re-imagining or a 32 years too late sequel. Will children of today look back at Creed, Jurassic World or Star Wars Episode VII with glassy eyes presumably as they watch Balboa 99, Jurassic Universe and Star Wars Episode XX . Of course that’s when I realised I watched the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS as a kid in the 90’s and yet still felt nostalgic pangs at swooping X-Wings and John William’s resounding score so perhaps future generations will just find themselves gooey over a linked stream of remakes.
Admittedly the most positive thing about the film was the putrid taste of the prequels it washed out of my gums, that was until it dawned on me that this was more of a case of how awful George Lucas’s abortion of the franchise was than any particular merit of the new film. Without sounding too conceited it’s pretty simple to make a good Star Wars film as its just an action adventure film set in space. The people with creative control just need a vague idea of how to actually create a movie, as fortunately JJ Abrams does for it to work. Episode VII manages to effectively rip off the plot of A New Hope and still remain enjoyable to watch even if my brain does feel cheated.
Perhaps it’s an oxymoron but I’d love to be nostalgic about something new. I can’t think of anything in recent memory that has created the feeling I had when I did watch Star Wars for the first time.
Multiple factors have caused this. The astronomical cost of making films as audiences demand huge CG laden affairs meaning only the safest bets get invested in, ones with a proven track record and built in audiences. The constant media and marketing bombardment we have which drowns out anything new and means familiar, older franchises end up standing out purely as we can recognise them through the mess of stuff. Finally I think creative talent simply not being utilised in Hollywood as it well could be to create fresh ideas.
I can only see it becoming a lot worse before it changes, despite the vast majority of franchise reboots being relatively unsuccessful in respects to reviews at least they keep being churned out so must be earning money somewhere. I can only hope when I sit down with my grandchildren to watch Trek Galaxy Battlestar Galactica Wars XIV I’m able to induce myself into a chemical coma for the duration where hopefully I’ll dream of better times.