Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Old is New Again

So I am taking a little break from the C.S. Lewis commentary this week and instead would like to discuss a phenomena that I have noticed within our "young adult" generation.  A few weeks ago I was reading a blog that was commenting on the "new" Robocop and Total Recall movies that will come out sometime in the next year.  Yes you read that right, Robocop and Total Recall are getting a remakes.  As a child of the 80s and 90s I don't really remember either movie being particularly good, though graphically for their time entertaining.  The joke within the blog about these new movies went something like this, "what do you expect, a whole new movie to be made?"  The point being, this generation of film makers would rather remake an old classic than create something completely new and imaginative.

The joke of the blog article points out in print something I have also noticed.  Whatever you want to call it, re-make, a re-load, a recycled concept, a re-imagined idea, or "a classic as you have never seen it before" are all ways of describing this concept of taking an old product and trying to drag it into the 21st century.  There have been all sorts of ways this has been done in film particularly.

Fairly Recent Film Remakes: Tron, Robocop, Total Recall, 3:10 to Yuma, Around the World in 80 Days, Clash of the Titans, Fame, Footloose, Godzilla, Incredible Hulk (remade mere months after the first one), Italian Job, Miracle on 34th St., Stat Trek, Oceans 11-13, and the list could go on and on.  This brief survey does not even begin to scratch the surface of those things that simply coming out in newer HD or 3D versions like every Disney classic being released from a film vault somewhere for a limited time or the Star Wars Saga that never seems to end.

This current generation remakes or covers: songs, movies, tv shows, throw back sports uniforms, classic looks in design and fashion, and even TV chefs make meals the way Grandma used to.  In my religious field I have noticed a dramatic increase in young adults desire for the "Classic" tradition within Christian faith.  They are seeking more and more classic forms of worship, silence, pilgrimage, and a sense of community that seems to have been lost in our highly individualistic American Culture.  Yet somehow we are maintaining a sense of new.

I doubt my observation is unique. I am even sure others have written about it, though I am not aware of any news articles or blogs on the topic.  But in fairness I have not looked very hard.  My observation is two fold.  First, this generation craves some sense of tradition and some way to tie ourselves back to something deeper than the present.  We live in such a forward moving culture we fail at times to look back.  It took thousands and thousands of years to go from animal power to the car and less than 100 years to go from the car to the moon.  It took us thousands upon thousands of years to get to a billion people in global population and only a couple hundred to get to our current 7billion.  This generation with its instant everything is looking for a way to attach itself to something permanent.  This is not uncommon in humanity we have statues, buildings, writings, artifacts and of all kinds of people trying to "live forever" through tale and song.  But instead of creating yet one more new structure, this generation seems to be trying to identify itself with a past that seemed more stable or at least has a history older than the iPod.

My second observation is that this is not a bad thing.  The generations ahead of us tried to sever themselves from former generations.  They didn't want to be identified with former things.  They wanted new thoughts, new structures, discover new places, and go where no one has gone before (do you like that a second Star Trek reference, my Dad would be so proud).  This generation I think seeks to live more peacefully with one another. To find ways to share better the resources we have.  They modify and improve old ideas and should a new thing come out of it great but if not that is cool too.  They seek to find a way to live more contented lives with less stuff and a better sense of community.  They crave something deeper than the latest thing that will clearly be gone tomorrow.

This is just a personal observation and a broad generalization.  There are still the thinkers who wish to create something completely new. There are still those artists who desire to make something like none have experienced before.  And there are still those out there who are finding new places to explore.  But I also think that a large portion of this generation simply is content with what they now have, will massage old ideas, and hope to find deeper meaning in old traditions.  Not your grandparents, "America was better in the 1950s" old traditions, but ancient traditions that those in the 50s rejected.  This is especially true in the church with the movement in many young adult communities that are more willing to practice traditions, prayers, worship patterns, and community living as seen in places like the desert Fathers, middle ages monks, and old spiritual disciplines.

What do you think?  Is this generation simply a set of copy cats, or is there something more to it?  Do we seek depth or are we too lazy to come up with something new?  Comments welcome.

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