Painful Truth: Reboots and nostalgia turned toxic

Maybe liking a cartoon when you were seven isn’t that important when you’re 38?

Not everything is for you.

I’m thinking of having that written in block capital letters on a T-shirt. Or maybe a billboard by a major highway. Possibly inscribed into the very earth like the Nazca lines, or carved into the moon’s surface with a high powered laser, so it will be visible until the sun explodes into a red giant and melts the planet.

Hopefully, you were unaware that a couple of weeks ago, a little corner of the internet went nuclear over (sigh) the reboot of She-Ra: Princess of Power.

Yes. The cartoon about He-Man’s sister. The one designed to sell injection-molded plastic toys in the 1980s.

As with all things soaked in nostalgia, someone decided it was ripe for a reboot. Fine.

Then they hired Noelle Stevenson, an Eisner-award winning comic book creator, to oversee the show. Stevenson has done webcomics, the kid-friendly comic Lumberjanes, and illustrated portions of a hilarious choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet.

So that sounds cool, right?

And then they released the character designs.

A clutch of aging nerd-males lost their minds, screaming that She-Ra wasn’t sexy enough anymore! How dare they draw her like she was more of an adolescent girl! Y’know, like the actual intended audience for a cartoon about magic princesses.

Obviously, this was weird and creepy. But it’s happened before, and it will happen again.

There is a very loud contingent of nerds, most of them about my own age, who believe they own the stuff they grew up loving. Transformers, GI Joe, video games, comic books, science fiction novels and movies and so forth. All that disposable stuff that was cranked out to get us to bug our parents for plastic playsets listed in the Sears Christmas Wishbook.

Despite being seen as disposable by adults, it did have an impact on us as kids. We loved some of that stuff.

Maybe too much.

You can still feel an attachment to the stuff you liked as a kid. You can even dislike the reboot. But way, way, way too many angry cave trolls in my generation feel like they have the right to be catered to.

Hence my plan to deface the moon with NOT EVERYTHING IS FOR YOU.

If writers and artists owe us anything, it’s just that they try to do their best work.

That doesn’t mean pandering to a bunch of middle aged geeks. It means carving new paths, finding new stories. And not all of them will be about, or for, us.

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