Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Of Remakes and Sequels

4:23 AM

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Exploring the mass appeal of remakes and sequels.

Is it easy to move on? Whether you thought about that thing or the other thing, moving on isn’t easy at all. Nostalgia hits you just when you thought you’re through. But in the larger scheme of things, nostalgia is crucial, especially in the life of someone growing up. When you move on, it’s always nice to revisit memories once in awhile, but not to the point of getting stuck in the same hell hole again.

While this tendency to become nostalgic is usual to our relationships with people, you may be surprised that this is also true of our media, too. The cartoons we usually stayed up early in the morning for, the movie or TV series we always watched out for—we outgrow them. As soon as we outgrow the media of our childhood and right when we’re in the brink of moving on, we are surprised by the stream of sequels or remakes. They’re everywhere. They’re consumed by the general audience voraciously and they are on the trending list almost immediately.

I think it’s worth asking why there is such a mass appeal towards remakes and/or sequels, what brings them to the spotlight, and why they are created. I observed and asked myself, and here are a few of the answers I came up with:

Nostalgia for the original audiences.

It brings back old memories. A flutter of “...remember when?” Revisiting those emotions will evoke the positive. It will jumpstart the old love you had for it, why you were addicted to it in the first place when you were ten or fifteen. Through nostalgia, the original audience might just go back to enjoying and loving it all again. Nostalgia is the working system that keeps any fandom alive, keeping them as they are: famous and not forgotten. Maybe this is also why some well-known media tend to be well-loved, well-treasured childhood favorites!

Case in point: Pokémon Go

It feels like 2005 over again, although having the technology to catch Pokémon on Android and smart phones rather than the original Nintendo devices, is strange. One can’t deny, though, that it gets really exciting to catch Pokémon again. There are several kids, ones who were not yet born during the original Pokemon times, playing and getting addicted to the game, but the number of teenagers and grown adults playing the game makes the nostalgia factor real.

A new generation of fans will rise.

When a new sequel is released, the hype from original audiences is bound to make a younger fan curious. This new generation of fans will eventually comb through the whole series. It keeps the love for it alive as the original audiences get older and truly outgrow it. Imagine a world wherein you didn’t love Star Wars just because your parents didn’t introduce it to you! The new generation of fans also become interested in the merchandise and devour it. The popularity then lives on.

Case in point: Finding Dory

Most of us Thingamabobs were children when Finding Nemo was released. So when Finding Dory was released and we noticed the little kids standing in line with guardians or parents, we might have felt like “Hey, this is our movie!” but let’s not feel too threatened. This simply means that watching Finding Dory (a sequel to the first Finding Nemo) as children pretty much ensures that Finding Nemo will be around for a long time. It was the same case with the Toy Story series, when we all grew up with Andy and watched him go to college. The little children watching would later grow to experience the same nostalgia we did.

It’s easier to market if the work already has a legacy.

Admittedly, this could be why people keep releasing sequels or remakes. Even if, say, Ice Age has probably been around since the actual dawn of time. Marketing a new release is easy if there has been an established legacy, especially because you have the original audience and an exponentially increasing fan base looking forward to a trailer or a sneak peek. Creating remakes or sequels always generate more revenue, much easier than creating from scratch.
Case in point: Ang Probinsyano

Ang Probinsyano was originally a film starring Fernando Poe Jr. in 1997. It was brought back to life in 2015 as a television show starring Coco Martin as the titular character. New and original fans can come together to celebrate this remake. Fans can look forward to sneak peeks and commercials of the show that ABS-CBN every so often plays that wasn’t available in the late nineties. It’s easier to market something that someone as famous as FPJ has starred in rather than creating an entirely new show. With a similar plot, brainstorming storylines for the show shouldn’t be too hard. Plus, ratings are good, as the show has had a lead national breakthrough with a solid rating of 46.7% as of 2016, and continues to rise.

It widens discourse and knowledge.

When a new work springs to life, one cannot deny the political and social discourse affecting the creative side to it. With new arguments advocating for different movements and social justice, the art we appreciate becomes political in nature. Additionally, we become critical about what we once loved and see the flaws in it. It teaches us to think independently and carefully of what we know. Every artistic work reflects the spirit of the time it’s been released in, allowing us to further understand our society and take a look at what is being critiqued by a certain medium.

Case in point: Ghostbusters

This is the perfect example. In 1984, Ghostbusters was dominated by an all-male cast. At that time, it was acceptable since males were casted in typically masculine roles to fit the brave hero archetype. Never mind women, they were “eye candy love interests” then. The newly released remake challenges that notion, bringing in an all-female cast with Chris Hemsworth as their secretary. In a time where feminism is an ongoing discourse, a film that embodies this idea appeals to a wider audience. Sure, it has faced a lot of criticism, but overall the film has made great waves, with a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and praise from feminists and viewers alike.

These could be some of the several reasons why people are obsessed with sequels and remakes; while they may not always live up to the original work or series, the role that they take in popular culture is still glaring. Without these remakes, the entertainment industry would not have as big a legacy as it holds today. They will always keep things on the radar and will always be on the lookout to catch the attention of fans, drawing them together to enjoy what has been created. It creates discussion and generates revenue. Admittedly, as much as we need art, we do need a next release in many art forms. How weird would it be, after all, if we no longer have anything new from the Harry Potter franchise ever?

Article by Liane
Art by Liam

Lianza Reyes is a millennial Manilenya from Pasig. She is currently a Broadcast and Digital Journalism Student at Syracuse University in New York. In 2016, she published her first poetry and prose collection, An Inaccurate Self-Portrait, through Central Books. Her ultimate dream is to be a news producer, while finding an innovative way to merge journalism and social service. She loves excessive naps, memes, and books. Her favorite story to tell is that one time she tackled a security guard at age fourteen to see Jessica Sanchez.

Liam Andrew is an illustrator and graphic designer who has a serious addiction to Buffalo wings, film, noir, and all things archaeology. He also never grew out of his fascination with westerns, country music, and dinosaurs; probably never will.