On Nostalgia (Redux Number… Something)

So… the intro to the Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop dropped, and you could time the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth to it, because “old school fans” tend to be contradictory smooth brains who demand remade content to be simultaneously exactly how they remember it and not what they remember.

It’s a theme you see with anything that harkens back to an earlier era; like Star Wars, or Cowboy Bebop, or whatever. You have an aggressively fanatical fanbase who demands that the work take them back to when they were younger and capture the same magic that they felt when they first experienced it.

The problem is, of course, that it’s impossible. Not even the original work is going to be able to capture quite the same magic ever again, and demanding it does is an exercise in futility that will only end in disappointment (followed by rage and potentially tantrums, because we’re talking about 10-year old kids in 40-year old bodies here).

Let’s try a little math experiment here:


Let’s say (A) is a creative work. Let’s say (B) is the circumstances and environment. Let’s say (C) is the viewer, and (D) is the cumulative experience that you “feel” at the end. The “old school” fans expect -or more accurately demand– that (D) remain completely unchanged; and are extremely reluctant to allow (A) to change in any meaningful fashion as well.

I’m hoping that you can see the problem.

(B) is ever-changing, and that is almost entirely out of any given person’s control. Likewise (C) is shaped and altered inexorably by (B), no matter how much we try to resist it. It is simply impossible for (D) to even be remotely the same value within the constraints that “old school” fans are willing to allow. Your only chance for the “magic” you feel to be even remotely similar to the magic you felt back then is by allowing the created work to be different, and perhaps in significant ways, than the one you remember way back when.

The choice is pretty much binary. You either have to accept that the remade content is going to have to change, and take the risk that those changes aren’t going to hit the same sweet spots that made you feel so profoundly a long, long time ago…

… Or you pursue new created works, taking the risk… that it won’t hit the same sweet spots… that made you… feel so… profoundly a long, long… time ago…

Hunh. Gosh, it sure sounds like it’s the exact same risk, and that maybe our collective obsession towards sequels and remakes is self-defeating and that we should be more willing to embrace new stories and content rather than demand “more of the same!”

… Nah, that can’t be it. Must be something wrong with my math. I’ll work on it some more after I’m done finishing this scathing criticism about how the way the characters run in the Cowboy Bebop remake looks totally wrong and how it’s tragically ruining my appreciation of a time-tested classic.

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