Note: For the purpose of this post I’ll be using the word “reboots” to encompass reboots and remakes, with an occasional spin-off that is based on the core material like Star Wars or Star Trek. Because the latter, at least for me, can fall into reboot territory and should be given the respect it deserves for its place in the verse of its making.
Confession time: I like reboots. I didn’t always like them. Young me saw them as cheap ways to make fast money by depending on fans who grew up with a movie or franchise. But the older I got and the more time I spent analyzing the kind of media we consume, the more I came to the realization that reboots are actually kind of fantastic, when done right, of course—a distinction that is important.
Think of Ghostbusters, Cinderella, or One Day at a Time. Each were reboots of original content from years ago that had the core concept of the property. The difference was that the vehicle driving this concept was new. Ghostbusters had women driving the supernatural story. And Roswell, New Mexico and One Day at a Time had people of color driving their dramas.
At first glance, it’s easy to brush off these reboots as money grabs. But in reality, and at the heart of them, they are explorations of stories we know told through different lenses. The POV might not be for you anymore, but it’s for someone else who has never felt seen, heard, or understood in the properties they love to the Moon and back.
And making people feel seen is absolutely worth it in my book. Why? Because we learn from the media we consume. And if we see reboots like Ghostbusters, Roswell, New Mexico, and One Day a Time from a new lens, we learn as women and as Latinx people that our stories matter and that they should be given the time of the day to shine and shine bright.
It can get overwhelming sometimes, the thought of all these reboots that keep popping up every day. And sometimes it feels like overkill. But reaching new audiences that might never have given the specific property a chance because they didn’t see themselves in the story is important not just to viewers, but to studios, as well, who are looking to draw in new fans.
The one caveat that I must talk about is the fact that diverse stories are not interchangeable. You can’t just pop one actor/character in for another and expect to be patted on the back for your diverse choice. Who they are as people come with traditions, knowledge, and understandings that are unique to the specific group you’re trying to represent.
And if you don’t understand this distinction, you run the risk of ending up like The CW’s reboot of Charmed. Once. I was excited for that reboot and what it meant to have 3 Latinx women of color on my screen. But that flew out the window when 2 out of the 3 women weren’t Latinx. How can they tell the story from a place of authenticity if they have not lived our experiences?
That’s why I think reboots are delicate but brilliant things. They can be destroyed by those who are careless, but they can also be game-changing for little girls/boys and women/men who have never seen themselves as the hero, the champion, or the center of a story that isn’t just based on pain; an unfortunate happening that needs to be crushed in Hollywood.
So, next time that the latest reboot gets picked up, think about the changes that can be made to the original story. And think about how it can influence someone’s life for the better if properties like Star Wars, Marvel, or Disney make people feel seen in a time where we all need a little care, loving, and representation.
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