WILDLY FRUSTRATED: Creativity is dead, and I know the killers and their motives!
There will not be a gentle, gradual slide into my argument today. I am the prosecutor in the court of public opinion, and today I am stating my case to the judge and jury. Or maybe I’m a lunatic on the streets raising a makeshift sign over my head proclaiming “the end” to any passersby. I could simply be someone who’s “mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Why? Because creativity is dead!
I don’t know how it died, but it did, and it’s fucked up! I know that creativity is taking a dirt nap because of “nostalgia;” and I use those quotation marks liberally. I am fucking tired of Hollywood, TV executives, and writers trying to shove “nostalgia” down my damn throat because they can’t think of anything new or interesting to make.
Nostalgia is an emotional and sentimental response to anything that makes one desire a happier time, place, or thing [an experience] in one’s life. I am one year over 30 – I am not that nostalgic for shit that I can still fucking remember! When I was little, I would watch Nick at Nite. It was a programming block on Nickelodeon dedicated to airing television shows from a bygone era after 9 p.m. I remember watching “Dobie Gillis,” “Laugh-In,” “Get Smart” – the list goes on. That’s what I am nostalgic for! I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye and I’m pining for shit that he was watching growing up. Reruns after reruns are being shown these days of shows that make me sick, and I’m not trashing reruns at all. I understand why it happens – syndication and whatnot – but why not be a little more picky with what is being aired, TV executives?
Nostalgia fosters reruns, but one thing I am not nostalgic for is “Full House.” That show has been in reruns since it originally went off the air back in 1995. Nick at Nite, if it’s still called that anymore, is still showing its reruns – oh, how the mighty have fallen! Was it entertaining back then? I’ll admit that I did enjoy it when I was growing up, but it’s been played/aired to death! If they want to show something from the early ‘90s that plays on nostalgia, air “Step by Step.” All I remember about that show was the burnout surfer, Cody, who lived in a van in the driveway, “Ogre” from “Revenge of the Nerds” as a biker with a heart of gold, and Suzanne Summers in a lycra unitard every so often. To be fair, every male has to remember that sight, am I right, gentlemen? *raises hand for high five*
Another thing that nostalgia-influenced entertainment fosters is reboots and sequels. Speaking of “Full House,” I read that its sequel has been green-lit by Netflix. It’s going to be called “Fuller House” – they clearly took a good two minutes to come up with that title. The damn title for “Joanie Loves Chachi” took longer to think up than that! Anyway, the show synopsis has also been posted. In it, we’ll find a recently widowed and pregnant D.J. Tanner – along with her two young sons – moving in with her sister, Stephanie Tanner, and her longtime friend, Kimmy Gibbler, and her “feisty” teenage daughter.
First off, how fucking shitty is D.J.’s luck? I mean, all she needs now is to be diagnosed with cancer and she’ll have hit the “triple 7s” on the slot machine from hell! Secondly, do we really need to see how much more dimwitted her friend Kimmy has become in adulthood? I figured her character would’ve been found dead from her own stupidity sometime after the show had ended (in a progressive timeline sense). Also, who had sex with her?! I didn’t think there was enough alcohol in the world to make that happen, but, sure enough, there apparently is in that TV universe. And now my stomach is churning from that implication.
The original show was about three best friends trying to raise three girls the best they could. It had heart and it was endearing. This sequel feels like a depressing Lifetime movie that’ll be extended 12 hours too long, focusing on a mother at her wit’s end who moves in with her train wreck of a friend because “fuck it!” I assume Stephanie will be the voice of reason on the show who attempts to keep her sister’s sanity intact while constantly trying to end Kimmy’s life on an episode-by-episode basis – in a Wile E. Coyote manner. Those two characters never liked each other, so it totally makes sense, and it would probably be considered to be a mercy killing.
To be fair, this show probably won’t be nearly as bad as the saccharine-laced sequel to “Boy Meets World” that Disney has made. “Girl Meets World” centers on Cory and Topanga’s daughter as she navigates middle school life. Unfortunately, whatever heart that was present in the original series has been stripped away. Cory and Topanga are shells of their former selves, while their vapid daughter goes to school with her friends that deserve to be beaten whenever they speak or mug to the goddamn camera.
This show is clearly aimed at the “eleventeen”-year-olds out there, and it shows – the writing is awful! I have seen better dialogue on a public access production of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” The jokes cannot even be considered juvenile – they’re stillborn! They’re so bad that the canned laughter is even uninterested. What’s worse is each fucking episode relies on the “moral-of-the-week” formula rather than actually concentrating on story or character development. In other words, it fits in perfectly with every other live action program the likes of Disney and Nickelodeon have been making for the past several years.
If creativity wasn’t dead, such shows wouldn’t have the chance to exist. The television powers that be would create entertaining shows that don’t aim at nostalgia – or the lowest common denominator, for that matter. Shows don’t have to be mind-blowingly stupid for them to be intended for kids and teens. They are smarter than we give them credit for, and by treating them like insipid morons, we are just perpetuating them to think in kind.
Now that I think about it, maybe creative isn’t dead so much as it is abusively neglected. There is plenty of good, original, and creative programming on Netflix, AMC, ABC, and FX. In the last few years, we have seen great shows like “House of Cards,” “Modern Family,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” etc. Those shows are perfect examples of creators taking chances and making something that will be remembered. They are, or will be, classics, so there is clearly creativity somewhere. The good examples, however, definitely do not outweigh the bad. It doesn’t erase the fact that those with the programming power are still taking advantage of “nostalgia.” By trying to force-feed the public “nostalgia,” writers and executives can rest on their laurels. Fuck that, man! Innovate for fuck’s sake! Create something that is good enough to become a classic! Creating a show that will ultimately be forgotten because it was nothing but a piece of shit since its conception isn’t an accomplishment worth having.
by Rich Cicci
Rich is a player of board and video games; lover of beer, movies, music, and comics; connoisseur of the arts and the inappropriate; and a pop culture columnist.