Culture Is A Vulture Picking Over the Remains of the Past

josh hadley | the shadows of pop culture | aug. 2016

The new Ghostsmashers movie is a perfect example of just how little value an intellectual property really has any longer. Actually, just calling IDEAS "intellectual property" is offensive at its core. No one cares, though, we all bitch and moan about it and yet we consume it all the time. Bunch of hypocritical sellouts we all are.

The other day a young halfwit asked me, "Is the 6 Million Dollar Man the same show as the Bionic Man?" and after I sighed that sigh of the thoroughly beaten, I told him “Yes. Yes, it is." My problem is that this show might have been a '70s show (prior to many of my readers very existence) but it has been in syndication and DVD perpetually since it left the first run airwaves, not to mention the many parodies and references in modern movies and TV series. It honestly did take me back that a show of this magnitude has already started to get lost in time. So I guess what I am asking is, how does something that was such a huge part of my life as a kid (and not just me, but my entire generation) get lost to the ether of time all the while, as I type this, movie studio executives are attempting to remake it as a new blockbuster movie? Do we just look for names that the pubic might know and then move on, or is there something more?

Maybe I am just too close to it, but the 1980s just don't seem that far back to me. I remember my life so vividly and it honestly astounds me when I meet up with kids today (I call them kids yet they are in their late 20s) that were barely alive when I graduated high school in 1993. Like that old saying goes, “Of all liars, the smoothest and most convincing is memory." The '80s are being mined at a rate that even the '70s would have found groovy and yet the audiences that these "new" projects target are people who were not even alive when the original was new. That “Jem and the Holograms" movie was made for 20-year-olds not the 40-year-olds who watched the Jem cartoon. The new Transformers, GI Joe, TMNT, Robocop and an innumerable others are all made the same way. This logic of picking over the past to hollow it out and watch it lumber around like a Romero social statement is staggering to me.

A few years ago I was in a video game store with my son and I was grabbing and old NES game and he made a smart ass comment like, "God! I have better graphics on my cell phone!" That just says so much about the modern generation. It's all about now and to them it does not matter what came before right now. They don't care that we had to go through the oscilloscope era, the Atari era, the 8-bit era, the 16-bit era, the 32-bit era (still calling bullsh*t on the 64-bit Jaguar lies, so that does not count), the polygon era, the sprite era and the pre-rendered background era to get what they have now in gaming. To them, it has always been like this and nothing that came before matters.

To the newer generation the struggles of the past are of no consequence to them, be it pop culture items or social issues. To them African Americans have always had the right to vote, women have always been equal to men in the workplace, Tom Cruise has always been crazy, gay has always meant homosexual and there's always been 400 channels and Netflix. They have no idea what a pay phone is, what a video store is, what those old slide over the paper credit card machines were, what a real drive-in is like, what having to mail a letter is like, what writing a check is like.

My point is that without the past there is no now, and to the youts (not a typo) of today, the past means nothing. When I was growing up in the late '70s and early '80s, I was always fascinated with the past. I loved comics from the '50s, TV shows from the '60s, movies from the '30s and novels from the early 1900s. I was considered "boring" for wanting to watch old Outer Limits episodes instead of a football game. I was the dull guy for choosing to read a book from the 1940s over getting high.

This brings me to question the unoriginality of Hollywood with its remakes, re-imaginings and reboots, when involving a past that their target demographic has never heard of or doesn't care about. Why do they keep mining the past for a future that does not care? Most of the remakes of movies today have nothing in common with the original save the title and that is something that today's youts don't care about — if they even know about it in the first place; so why keep doing it? Most of the time it does not work, so is it worth it to alienate the core audience and the new audience at the same time? Since the youts of today don't care about an old '70s TV series or an old movie from 1985 being brought back, why the non-stop re-suffixing of these things?

Now, I get that what I am saying is directly related to my generation as I am sure that my parents said the same thing about the things my friends and I didn't know from their life, but I think it's worse now since the internet has allowed all of these formerly lost things to be archived in a way that could not have been done in the '70s or '80s and yet, no one cares. If you are a parent today, expose your kids to the shows and movies and books that you grew up with, ingrain into them that the past is just as important as the present and that without the past, there is no present. If you don't do this, not only will our pop culture past cease to exist, but so will our history. The youts of today need to know about the struggles others have had to endure, they need to know that movies didn't always come to your home, they need to know that “Dracula" came before “Twilight," they need to know that Sonic and Mario used to be bitter rivals, they need to know that “The Simpsons" used to be good, they need to know that the M in MTV used to stand for music, they need to know …


A fiercely confrontational and arrogant critic whose stubborn nature makes him immanently readable and equally angering, Josh Hadley is a writer for magazines such as Hustler, Fangoria, Paracinema, Shadowland, Grindhouse Purgatory and Cashers du Cinemart, as well as a radio host on Jackalope Radio. Find more from him at 1201beyond.com, a website that only the most anti-social personalities would engage.

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