Avery On: The Reboot Conundrum

Inherent in the meaning of the word reboot is that it is a “do-over”, re-start, to begin again virtually from scratch, and herein lies the challenge. Yet another reboot is being made. I was all prepared to talk about originality, the notion that new content isn’t being made, and then I realized that I might be contradicting myself. Here’s the thing, from a purely mythological standpoint there are only so many archetypes and stories that can be told. Joseph Campbell spoke very deeply about how the same myths are told throughout ancient cultures, though each of these were told from their own unique cultural perspective.

Perspective is the very thing that I do believe is unique to each of us, how we tell stories and ultimately how we tell the same stories again and again, and thus we arrive at the reboot. Forget for a moment everything you know about your favorite Game, TV Show, Movie, etc… now bring to your mind every fairy tale or myth that you have ever heard or read. The stories of the bible, Beowulf, countless rebirth myths, all these tales and so many more told by word of mouth and carried through time. Then the written word, it’s preservation of ancient folklore itself a tale worthy of myth. We seek to fit everything into a mythological context; Emperor Palpatine even has a modern day analogy.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s easier for media to remake itself in a familiar image. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting the “Reboot” treatment,  why use quotes?, simply because my other quandary with reboots is the use of the word itself. It’s too easy to rely on one descriptor rather than taking the time to discuss this new incarnation. Now I have no idea what the new Buffy will be like, but I do trust that (I am paraphrasing here) to every generation there is one will remain true in this new version. If my hypothesis proves to be accurate then, the aforementioned reboot is something more that should be judged on its own merits. The unique perspective of the show runner in this instance will give us something fresh to enjoy.

The Star Trek films of late have been termed a reboot but this too is false, because they are in fact an alternate timeline. While this most obtuse of details may seem unnecessary it does inform how prospective viewers and long time fans may have reacted, likely more favorably once they could be assured that the characters that they grew up with would remain forever unchanged. Therein lies the lure of telling the same tales again and again, the familiar is comforting, and often tells us something about the time we are in. Perhaps that’s why apocalyptic stories are so prevalent, Last Man On Earth, The Walking Dead, The 100, Battlestar Galactica, and so many more.

Battlestar Galactica itself is a myth wrapped in a myth and so on. Glen A. Larson the show’s creator was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had modeled the original series on stories from the bible. When the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica came about in 2003 and ran until 2009 it told a story that was itself about mythology and destiny set to a science fiction background. The perspective of Ronald D. Moore gave us a gritty believable world that we could see ourselves in. Each generation requires these stories to be told again and again to remind them of whom they are and the ethics that their society must adhere to.

No matter how many reboots are made, and how often I might cringe when I hear the word, I will remind myself that a new story teller should be given a chance for us to share in their perspective.

Be seeing you,

J. Avery Cain

All rights reserved “©” 2018 Brian Nathan Schwartz


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