On Rebooting

On Rebooting

There has been a lot of discussion, understandably, about the new Star Trek movie. Let me admit, first off, that I have seen very little Star Trek and what little I have seen I pretty much loathed and despised. (NB: I’m neither judging nor prosecuting here, merely expressing a personal opinion. Live long and prosper.) That being said, the talk about the so-called “rebooting” has me wondering why television and film are so prone to remakes while there appears to be no similar practice in literature.

For example, much of the Seventies science fiction that reflected the norms of the preceding decade’s youth culture could do with a bit of revisiting these, as could the thinly disguised polemics against the Vietnam War. The latter have lost a bit of their punch now that we’ve learned Ho Chi Minh and company weren’t actually an Asiatic version of the American founding fathers intent on setting up an equitable worker’s paradise. And the evils of the Nixon administration, as admittedly foul as they were, look rather pedestrian in light of the killing fields of the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea. All the Cold War-influenced novels are also looking very out-of-date these days too, although I admit that a reboot involving the sudden and inexplicable collapse of one superpower on the basis of a satellite state no longer requiring exit visas for travel to a neighboring state might prove less enthralling than exotic weaponry and climactic space fleet actions.

But who could resist a reboot of John Norman’s Chronicles of Gor, where instead of finding women to be beautiful in chains and enslaving them, Tarl Cabot finds himself drawn to strong, independent women who take no stick from men? Or a reboot of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, in which Valentine Michael Smith is a derivatives trader attempting to share the golden secret of post-scarcity economics with the rigid and short-sighted world of Wall Street? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to contemplate a more multiculturally aware reboot of The Lord of the Rings, in which the motivations of the so-called “Dark” Lord are explored in more sensitive detail and the orcs are revealed to be a peaceful, artistic people much given to poetry and erotic wood carvings.

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John R. Fultz

Let’s face it: Most “reboots” are travesties…more often than not they are useless attempts at reviving a dead corpse…or trying to fix something that just ain’t broke.

This is why the new STAR TREK movie is such a sensation. This franchise was definitely in need of a re-boot (or a bullet to the head), and it got one that happens to be ingeniously terrific! The same thing happened with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA a few years ago. An excersize in 70s cheese turned into one of the most brilliant sci-fi epics of the 21st Century.
But for every successfull “re-boot” you can find dozens and dozens that will lie forgotten in the dust-bins of history.
Those three re-boots you propose (humorously, I’m guessing!) all sound like completely terrible ideas…sure-fire recipes for destroying the original ideas. More of those types of re-boots we do NOT need…

Hospitaller

Those three re-boots you propose (humorously, I’m guessing!) all sound like completely terrible ideas…sure-fire recipes for destroying the original ideas.

Much like the femizon soap opera that was NuBSG, coincidentally.

John R. Fultz

We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that, Hospitaller….there are plenty of reasons why BSG was a super-hit phenomenon that not only revitalized the franchise, but gave a new respectability to the Sci-Fi Channel, reached across genre borders to draw in “mainstream” viewers, and made some incredibly important and poignant statements about American politics, the nature of violence, the pitfalls of religous zealotry, and the Human Condition. On top of all this, it delivered a nice dose of action/adventure on a regular basis too. And all this without a smidgen of cheese.
Re-watching the original BSG is like eating a grilled cheese sandwich with extra cheese and drinking a glass of melted Velveeta topped with cheese whiz. (i.e. total cheese)

wolfkahn

Wouldn’t all the numerous Arthurian retellings count as a literary equivalent of a Hollywood reboot?

John R. Fultz

Interesting point, wolfkahn…
However, those are simply re-interpretations of an actualy myth/legend. So it’s not EXACTLY the same thing as re-inventing a known property from the pop-cultural landscape.
However, if someone remade the film EXCALIBUR specifically, that would definitely be a reboot.
I’m not sure retelling a legend from the mists of history is the same thing.

Hospitaller

We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that, Hospitaller….there are plenty of reasons why BSG was a super-hit phenomenon that not only revitalized the franchise, but (blah, blah, blah)

That seems to be a bit of an enthusiastic exaggeration. NuBSG (or EMOBSG or GINO) attracted a fair number of viewers for the opening mini-series, and then played to an ever-dimishing audience, wandering all over the place without any real idea of what it was doing and seemingly kept alive only because critics liked to fawn over it, thus making it something of a prestige project for the Sci-Fi channel despite the fact that comparitively few people actually watched it.

John R. Fultz

Not that ratings numbers count for anything when it comes to quality, but if you check your facts you’ll find that BSG was consistently one of the most popular genre shows on television during its run. It was also critically acclaimed for a reason. The writing, the acting, the directing…all were top-notch. For awhile, it was the most politically relevant drama on television.
Who cares if it re-invented the cylons or did away with previous continuity? The point is that it was an insightful exploration of human nature, war, violence, guilt, prejudice, and zeaolotry. It did everything that good drama is supposed to do–it reflected the most important issues of the real world. All the sci-fi bombast was a bonus.

ZTiger

I’m sure there are plenty in the book world. I think “Armour”had a lot of similarity to “Starship Trooper”, and I don’t mean the movie.

As to the Startrek, the remake was good. Granted you did have to leave you military brain at home when you started to wonder.

1: Why does Star Fleet happen to only have 1 fleet.
2: If one Star Fleet ship can crash into the Romulan ship and prevent it from killing the fleeing shuttles then why did 40+ Klingon warbirds get slaughtered when the Klingons are far more likely to ram something?

3: Why didn’t the Vulcan home world have space based defenses?
4: Does the Vulcan home world not have ground based military? Are they to stupid to fire missiles or ray guns at a 4000 kilometer long chain hanging in the atmosphere that is making some kine of plasma drill to the core of the planet?

5: for as long as Vulcan’s had space flight before even talking to the humans, it seems strange that they only had one planet.
6:And why does Star Fleet seem to be the only one with ships where are the Vulcan ships?

Yah so there are some logical holes, but frankly the acting and just geekery was great in the movie.

John R. Fultz

Fair enough, ZTiger, but you can find logic holes in ANY piece of sci-fi or fantasy if you look closely enough. For that matter, any work of fiction. Alfred Hitchcock called these “MacGuffins” and realized that any of his movies depended on audiences willfully ignoring the MacGuffin, whatever it might be. The closer you look, the more MacGuffins you find.

By the way, aren’t the Vulcans pacifists? That would explain their lack of a military. If not, you can explain it by realizing that the Romulan mega-ship came from 150 years in the future, so it could destroy anything StarFleet or the Vulcans could throw it it. I mean, it would be like pitting an warship from the 1700s against a supersonic jet. No contest…

Hospitaller

Not that ratings numbers count for anything when it comes to quality, but if you check your facts you’ll find that BSG was consistently one of the most popular genre shows on television during its run.

“Most popular genre show” is not a synonym of “super-hit phenomenon”, I’m afraid, nor is it an accurate description of the ratings of Ron Moore’s overhyped act of necromancy.

It was also critically acclaimed for a reason. The writing, the acting, the directing…all were top-notch.

Yes… that would be why both Moore and Michelle Forbes appear to be under the impression that their “Cain” was a good woman gone mad under the pressures of command, when the character was clearly a psychopath from the get-go…

Who cares if it re-invented the cylons or did away with previous continuity?

If it was good, it could be forgiven, but unfortunately, it wasn’t very good.

The point is that it was an insightful exploration of human nature, war, violence, guilt, prejudice, and zeaolotry.

You’re confusing unimaginative dreariness with insight.

John R. Fultz

Ha, ha! I don’t think so…

I think it WAS good. Very good, in fact.

But that nature of art — ALL ART — is that it’s entirely subjective. In the end it all comes down to personal opinion.

BSG didn’t work for you; it worked very well for me.

Cool thing is we both have many choices for our entertainment in today’s media. So we can agree to disagree on this and both of us can continue to enjoy reading BLACK GATE!

Cheers,
JF

John ONeill

Well said, John.

For the record, I thought the new BSG was the best series on television (especially after Veronica Mars got canceled…. *sob*).

Liked the new ST movie, too.

– John

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