He Man is back to join Pokemon, Ghostbusters and Star Trek – Is there anything new?
He-Man and the Master’s of the Universe is back with its first new episode in decades. The episode, titled Curse of the Three Terrors, will soon be revealed at San Diego Comic Con, though we already know it was developed by Super7. Not much else is known about Curse of the Three Terrors, though it seems to stick to a very retro look with slightly choppy animation and visuals that wouldn’t look out of place in the 80s. It also looks like Alan Oppenheimer, the original voice of Skeletor, is on board with this project, and the result is something that really feels like a continuation of the original He-Man, and not something entirely new.
So far, 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 look extremely familiar to you. 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 busy collecting Pokémon, and there’s a Ghostbusters movie, Full House has a sequel, and a Star Trek TV show is about to start. On your state-of-the-art iPad that can simulate detailed three-dimensional worlds, you can play remakes of classic PC games like Day of the Tentacle, with the ability to switch graphics and audio back to the original versions; or you play 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 step back into their childhoods on a grand scale, as all entertainment now seems like a series of retreads, reboots, and remakes of our childhood.
And that’s increasingly a problem – the fact is that making movies, TV shows, and video games are hugely expensive propositions these days. Which means the people funding all these projects are increasingly looking for safe ideas, and why not create something that’s already been proven to make money, rather than risking it all on something completely new?
After all, if there are lessons in Pokemon Go, it’s the fact that you should keep doing what you were already doing, just wrap it in something familiar.
Which is honestly fine – there’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia and a little self-indulgence. Netflix’s new show Stranger Things proves you can harness nostalgia while creating something new, while films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World have made the same point in more obvious ways.
The problem is when it leads to things like greenlighting projects like 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 mining the 80s and 90s, and that’s a little disappointing because it means we don’t trust people to enjoy something new. And yet, we live in a time when this is demonstrably untrue – where television viewership is rapidly falling as audiences turn to content created for and distributed on the web, where novelty is the driving force.
Is this the sign of a change in what can be called “pop culture”? Are movies and other forms of mass media now the cultural rearguard controlled by older people’s tastes, while new cutting-edge entertainment shifts to new-age media? And if so, does that mean that in a few decades we’ll be talking about going to the movies the way people talk about going to see a play – as something that can be fun and engaging, but which isn’t really ‘traditional’ anymore?
That might be a little too much to read into a He-Man reboot. It was – in its day – a silly, poorly made show that nevertheless managed to do something right and captivate audiences. We’re talking about a show where Skeletor is He-Man’s uncle, where He-Man is super-powered but can’t be shown hurting anyone, and so he keeps throwing them into barrels and puddles of water. Maybe it was that theme song, I mean, if you just take a second, you can still remember every note of that thing, can’t you?
But while He-Man is ridiculous and fun and it seems fitting that he picks up where he left off 20 years ago, seemingly unchanged, it’s just one of many parts of the past that was retrieved and reversed. Remember the 2011 remake of Thunder Cats? It’s probably best to really forget about it. And after? A remake of Alf? Mork and Mindy could do with a little facelift. As the good ideas are reworked and revised, only the really bad ideas remain, and maybe it’s time to 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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