This week saw the announcement of not one, but three reboots to popular old shows. The Powerpuff Girls are being trotted out again, ReBoot gets well, rebooted, and even the Three Stooges refuse to die with a new animated show in the works. It’s all too much for me to bear!
To be honest, I’m just tired of having to hear about them. There’s a new Powerpuff series? Great! The old one ended for a reason over a decade ago! I’m not going to watch a rehash of something when I can watch something that’s brand new and probably better because it isn’t trying to shoehorn a show from a different era into contemporary culture.
YouTube is brimming with old, nostalgic stuff, and it’s watched by the boatload. Except that’s the only reason it’s watched: nostalgia. Don’t believe me, think about music; nobody but nobody is out there listening to songs that didn’t crack the top 30. If it wasn’t popular then, there’s no nostalgia for it now, it’s highly unlikely to get the time of day now. TV shows are exactly the same, and even then many of the more popular ones never made it onto DVD before the digital revolution made that practice unprofitable.
At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves the question: does a rebooted show offer any benefit to the viewer? Does it deliver any real value to the consumer?
On the one hand the argument says yes. The consumer gets entertainment they know they love and the opportunity to share that love with other fans. They can also buy cool merchandise which delivers them additional pleasure outside of the viewing experience.
That’s one answer, but it’s also a crock of shite in my opinion.
Networks and studios love to point out that anyone who watches and likes the show is proof that value is being delivered. I don’t buy that, because if animated shows really are the art we pretend they are, then the audience deserves art that progresses culture, animation, and society as a whole.
Oh yes, even a show like Johnny Test helps move culture forward. It may not be the best animated show every made, but at least it’s still original. Going back to a show like Reboot is tantamount to saying that we took a step in the wrong direction, and we need a mulligan to fix the problem.
The practise also stagnates the industry creatively. The reboots might be wholly new shows outside of the concept, but they don’t represent the same challenges that a new show does. Artists have less freedom because the established ways have to be followed. Audiences are no better off either; they’ll lazily tune in to see what the new incarnation looks like instead of being curious enough to make the decision themselves.
In other words, our cultural muscles don’t get a workout from reboots. They’re just like an exercise routine that we’ve been doing for too long that makes us go through the motions, yet doesn’t actually improve our health. In other words it’s delusional!
The most depressing aspect to the news is that its a sure sign that animated TV as we’ve known for decades is indeed sliding into oblivion. The new and the fresh is to be found online. The animated envelope will be pushed on YouTube, not on the tube. The revolution that began with the original Nicktoons has run it’s course, except that TV has become a dead end where the future isn’t so much bleak as non-existent.
Mos frustrating of all is that the intended audiences for these shows don’t care! They aren’t old enough to remember the originals and have no nostalgia driving them to watch. They may as well be given something new because it requires the same amount of money and effort to attract an audience.
Media outlets are understandably gushing over the news, but they have no skin the the game. They don’t care whether the shows are good, or even succeed. They’re after eyeballs for their own motives and the rules stipulate that it’s all about the headlines.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m just tired of having to hear about these things. I can choose to actually view them or not, but the noise surrounding them is inescapable and distracts my attention from more creative, and rewarding animation that would entertain me much more thoroughly.