Nostalgia is Ruining Film

Nostalgia: the pesky emotion that makes us long for the past.  It’s also the thing that is ruining film.    

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, we’re bombarded with old shows and movies that we love.  We curl up on the couch to watch movies and shows from our past. We still laugh our asses off each time Ross yells “PIVOT” while streaming Friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a little blast from the past during my viewing pleasure.  

But nostalgia for old movies has given companies and studios the green light to leverage that nostalgia for a conveyor-belt like pace of spinoffs and reboots.  

Clearly, the biggest perpetrator of this trend is Disney.  Disney took our love of classic animated movies, such as The Lion King, and decided that we needed remakes and live-action versions of those films in our lives.  

But here’s the problem.  None of these re-make are actually good.  In some cases they’re tough to watch. 2019’s Aladdin was borderline insufferable.  And we are left with a burning heap of movies that are based on a lack of creativity.       

Nostalgia has become a scapegoat for a lack of creativity, and an ultimate desire to make money at the cost of something memorable.  Making movies and shows based solely on audience nostalgia is lazy, unimaginative, and offensive to the viewers.  

The opportunity cost of nostalgia is, ironically, creating more nostalgia.

George Lucas built an empire, a multi-generational fan base, and changed how cinema is made.  He did so not based on nostalgia for something that had already been made, but because he wanted to make something new.

Afterall, George Lucas convinced us to fall in love with a franchise who’s first move was technically it’s fourth.

Then Disney bought out George Lucas’ creativity at the tune of $4 billion.  

Don’t get me wrong, Disney has done an admirable job with the Star Wars franchise. The acting, special effects, and a somewhat compelling storyline of the most recent Star Wars Trilogy are not half-bad.  But I just can’t shake the sense that Episodes VII-IX were only made not to complete or expand on a story, but simply to satisfy fan nostalgia.  And, most importantly, to make Disney money.

But, if we continually make movies that are not completely independent from their parents, we risk not creating the next great empire.  

The next great thing that we can all love.

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