Nostalgia is defined as “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.” Sometimes, a person in the throes of nostalgia is said to be wearing rose-colored glasses--meaning they see whatever it is they are yearning for as something better than what it actually was.
Hi there. My name is Jeremy Rodden and I am an author and cartoon aficionado. I blog about cartoons, tweet #CartoonQuotes, and write middle grade/young adult contemporary fantasy books that take place in a cartoon world of my own creation called Toonopolis. I am here today to talk about my favorite thing: cartoons. Specifically, I want to discuss the recent rash of cartoons from my childhood being rebooted.
In the past few years, we’ve seen tons of old cartoon properties picked up and redone as live-action movies (Transformers, G.I. Joe), CGI-hybrids (Yogi Bear, Smurfs), and new TV shows (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, The Looney Tunes Show, Thundercats). And for the girls out there, we’ve seen My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake get rebooted into new shows.
I started this blog post discussing nostalgia because the first thing that most people do when they hear about classic cartoon remakes is cringe and fear that “they” will ruin the show/movie/whatever. The problem with nostalgia and rose-colored glasses are that they distort reality. Maybe that show you loved as a kid really wasn’t all that good!
Take, for example, this past week’s Cartoon Network reboot of Thundercats. A lot of GenX/GenY folks like myself have very fond memories of watching this show as youngsters. I’ve gone back and watched some of the old episodes recently in preparation for the reboot.
The show was really, really bad. Only the story was strong. Chalk it up to cheaper production (and less emphasis on quality in cartoons in the 80s), inferior voice acting (mostly), and being too light and colorful compared to how dark and brooding the story was.
Fortunately, I am not one to let nostalgia wreck my expectations for remakes. I was really looking forward to Thundercats on Cartoon Network and it didn’t disappoint. It’s darker. It’s got an amazing voice cast. Most importantly, it made Snarf (who makes my want to claw out my eardrums in the original) a mute character. See? Reboots can be good. In fact, reboots can be better than the original. Thundercats is only one episode in and already has the Internet abuzz over its amazing quality.
I argued in my Saturday Morning Cartoon Review of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated on Toonopolis, The Blog that this version of Scooby-Doo is actually the best version yet. They’ve maintained the quality of what has made Scooby iconic but updated it and added new wrinkles to make the viewer actually want to watch every week.
Many argue, also, that the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reboot is light years better than the 80s version. I wouldn’t argue that… cause I don’t… watch… it…
Look! A squirrel!
That isn’t to say that one’s worst fears of reboots can’t come to pass. My geeky kid heart died a little bit when I saw the new Foghorn Leghorn of The Looney Tunes Show. They wrecked the character. Overall, though, that particular show is pretty well done.
The ultimate point I am trying to make is that an update of an old classic doesn’t necessarily spell doom and people need to stop being so negative. Whether someone is remaking an old TV show, rebooting a cartoon, modernizing your favorite novel, rewriting Shakespeare, or covering a song you love, you should look at it with a positive state of mind.
Maybe it will invigorate interest in the original, which is great (unless you’re a hipster). Maybe it will not be all that bad. Maybe, just maybe, it will actually surpass the original and create new wonderful memories for you and (for some of us) your children.
Just take off those rose-colored glasses and enjoy things for what they are. Nostalgia can blind us and make us miss out on a golden opportunity to just have a good time with something old becoming new again. I know I have. You should too.
I’ll leave you all with two questions. First: what cartoon from your childhood do you wish would get an update/reboot/etc.? Second: what cartoon from your childhood do you think should never get an update/reboot/etc. because it was just too perfect?