Opinion

He Man's Back to Join Pokemon, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek - Is Anything New?

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He Man's Back to Join Pokemon, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek - Is Anything New?
Highlights
  • A new He-Man cartoon will premiere at San Diego Comic Con
  • It's the first new He-Man cartoon in decades
  • Other 80s franchises are also having a big comeback right now

He-Man and the Master's of the Universe is back with its first new episode in decades. The episode, titled the Curse of the Three Terrors, will be revealed soon at San Diego Comic Con, though we do already know that it has been developed by Super7. Not much else is known about Curse of the Three Terrors, although it appears to be sticking to a very retro look with slightly jerk animation and visuals that wouldn't look out of place in the 80s. It also sounds like Alan Oppenheimer, the original voice of Skeletor, is on board this project, and the result is something that really appears to be a continuation of the original He-Man, and not something entirely new.

As of now, there's not much more to the teaser than the promise of something new, but if you were born in the 80s, then things must be feeling extremely familiar. Just take a look at the trailer before - yes the difference between digital animation and hand drawn cells can be seen, but other than that, it certainly doesn't look like a product of this age:

 

People are busily collecting Pokemon, and there's a Ghostbusters movie, Full House has a sequel, and a Star Trek television show is going to start soon. On your cutting edge iPad which can simulate detailed three dimensional worlds, you could be playing remakes of classic PC games such as Day of the Tentacle, with the option to switch the graphics and audio to the original versions; or you're playing digital versions of board games like Scrabble, Game of Life, and Scotland Yard.

 

A generation that never wanted to grow up, finally has the chance to retreat into its childhood at a massive scale, as all entertainment now seems to be a series of retreads, reboots, and remakes of our childhood.

And that's increasingly a problem - the fact is that making movies, television shows, and video games, are all extremely expensive propositions today. Which means that the people putting up money for all of these projects are increasingly looking for sure shot ideas, and why not make something that already has a proven track record of making money, rather than risking it all on something completely new?

After all, if Pokemon Go carries any lessons then it's the fact that you should keep doing what you were already doing, just wrap it in something familiar.

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Which is honestly fine - there's nothing wrong with a little nostalgia and a little self-indulgence. Netflix's new show Stranger Things proves that you can mine nostalgia while creating something new, while films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Jurassic World made the same point in a more obvious fashion.

The problem is when it leads to things such as the greenlighting of projects such as Battleship, or Pixels. The problem is that Tetris is going to become a movie, and the story is "so involved" that it has to be a trilogy.

We're busy strip mining the 80s and 90s, and it's a little disappointing because it means that we don't trust people to enjoy anything new. And yet, we live in a time when that is demonstrably false - when television viewership is dropping fast as audiences move to content created for, and distributed on the Web, where novelty is the driving force.

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Does this signal a shift in what can be called "pop culture"? Are movies and other forms of mass media now the cultural rearguard controlled by the tastes of old people, while new and cutting edge entertainment moves on to new-age mediums? And if so, does it mean that in another few decades we're going to talk about going to the movies the way people talk about going to watch a play - as something that can be fun and engaging, but isn't really 'mainstream' anymore?

That's perhaps a little too much to read into a reboot of He-Man. It was - in its time - a silly and badly made show that nonetheless managed to do something right, and captivated audiences. We're talking about a show where Skeletor is He-Man's uncle, where He-Man is superpowered but can't be shown hurting anybody, and so he keeps throwing them into barrels and puddles. Maybe it was that theme song, I mean if you take just a second you can still remember every note in that thing right?

But while He-Man is ridiculous and fun and it seems fitting that it's just picking up where it left off 20 years ago seemingly without a change, it's just one of the many parts of the past that's been picked up and turned around. Remember the Thunder Cats remake from 2011? Probably best to just forget about it really. What's next? A remake of Alf? Mork and Mindy could use a little sprucing up. As the good ideas get reworked and revised, all that's left is the really bad ideas and maybe it's time we let go of that era now. He-Man episodes always ended with a moral. Let this one end with the moral that maybe it's time to stop living in the past.

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