Nostalgia Crutch

I am a fan of the Ninja Turtles. I’ve been just as big a fan of it in my adulthood, as I’ve been in my youth. But I suppose I make it pretty obvious. I keep finding myself watching cartoons, movies and reading comics about those ‘renaissance mutants’, and I share from time to time that TMNT is still pretty cool.

But I also know when it’s not for me. There’s plenty of times in the franchise’s history when something about it was atrocious, dare I say blasphemous. But every iteration is open to whatever kind of story it wants to tell. It’s never been 100% consistent on it’s 29 years of existence, with retcons, reboots, and loose interpretations all over the place.

The new Nickelodeon cartoon is doing quite well, and they really try the hit those nostalgic notes of the franchise while telling the story in their own way. The problem is Michael Bay’s live action interpretation of the franchise is never going to be what anyone will want it to be.

While too many fans of various ages are venting frustration about it left and right, I simply don’t care and will give it a chance to enjoy it for what it is. As big of a fan I am of the turtles, it’s not my way of life. People often let themselves lose sight of realistic things because their nostalgia is suddenly threatened.

Sonic Boom is a recent example of something that confuses me. Not for what it is, but for it’s reaction. To tell you the truth, it’s a cartoon/videogame/merchandise venture that doesn’t affect what Sonic the Hedgehog is in any way. It’s not a reboot of the franchise, it’s a cartoon series with a game attached to it. But hundreds of people all over the internet feel as though the integrity of the franchise is threatened.

“Everything is changed, Sonic will never be the same again, how can they do this to their ever dwindling fan base?”

What is fandom at this point anyway? Is it a specific ideology in which the thing that you love can only be this one thing and nothing else? Then suddenly, if the thing that you love changes in anyway it’s actually an insult and disservice to you as a fan?

Nooooo. Being a fan of something means enjoying it for the potential that it has. You are excited about changes and new directions, because you want it to evolve as much as your tastes do.

So if you really think about it, perhaps nobody has ever been a fan of Sonic in the first place. Most of us seem to hold the genesis days on a pedestal and want Sonic to continue to be nothing but Sonic 2 for the rest of it’s life. We’ll continue to have unrealistically low expectations, that Sega is never going to shoot for, because they’ll always be better than that.

Sonic Boom just wants to be something. Whether it’s rebranding, or redesigning; They’re breaking away from the irrational nature of expectation that Sonic ‘supposedly’ has. Sega is trying something new and they’re better for it.  If your first thought is ‘this isn’t what sonic is supposed to be.’ then perhaps your second thought should be something like ‘Why am I acting like I know what it is? Because I’m pretty sure I don’t.’

It gets to a point where we really have to let go of our nostalgia. Hanging on to the old things that we used to enjoy does absolutely nothing for the things that we could. Also, the younger generation will have nothing to like because it’s being taken over by rampant insecurity.

If the old things matter to you that much, then dust it off and play it again because it hasn’t gone anywhere. What you want has already been done and nobody has any real interest in doing it again.

The point is: You’re allowed to be nostalgic for the things you used to love. It’s only human nature. But at some point you’re going to have to start thinking about the things you enjoy in different ways. If you don’t let the things you enjoy evolve, then you’ll never evolve, and that’s just common sense. 

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