Recent Comments

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
William Proctor

Just a follow up. I have been writing about the way in which Twin Peaks has also been described as a reboot. Writer, Mark Frost, however, expressly claimed that this was not the case. X-Files, too, is not a reboot.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
William Proctor

That’s a good point, Martin. But I feel that the term would then need to be fully defined against its ‘correct’ usage. My issue is not that the reboot terminology is being marshalled to explain all under the sun, but that it is treated axiomatically by academics as if there is not a historical context. All reboots, as you say, are about re-monetization, but I strongly believe that one can analyse reboots/ re-launches/ revivals/ adaptations/ re-adaptations/ retcons etc as discrete ‘strategies of regeneration’ without the need to describe everything as a reboot. If, as you say, it is not about the narrative but about the brand, then that certainly doesn’t follow the logic of rebooting historically. Why would ‘rebranding’ not be sufficient to describe the industrial side of things? Re-Launch explains the narrative side of things as it is a continuation but following a period in the cultural wilderness. The reason for the vagueness around reboots/ remakes/ reimaginations etc, is that the term ‘reboot’ has rapidly grown into a buzz word. Prior to 2005, the term was not in popular use. Again, I expect that journalists would misinterpret the phenomenon, but for scholars not to even define how the word is being used in each individual case is problematic. Following the logic of reboots as re-branding/ re-launching, then, one would have to reconsider Star Trek: TNG as a reboot, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Terminator 2, Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genysis. My own question would be to ask: why the necessity to use the term when others would do? Why does it have to be difficult? To be sure, texts often overlap cross-conceptually so that reboots may also be remakes at the same time — A Nightmare on Elm Street being an example of a remake and an attempted reboot ( attempted because the series did not reboot at all in the end). All reboots remake to some extent, but not all remakes are reboots. All reboots adapt to some extent, but not all adaptations are reboots. Prequels and sequels — and other sequential concepts — do not reboot narratively. I speak about reboots as re-brandings in my book (Reboot Culture: Comics, Film, Transmedia). I am of the view that if one misunderstands the historical context and from where the term emerged and what it means, then that will lead to fallacious outcomes. This has been the trickiest part of my research, to be honest. My perspective is that using the term, reboot, to describe so many media instantiations means that any analysis of the entertainment industrial complex would run the risk of being vague and unclear. Now, just to be clear: I am not claiming that someone shouldn’t define or use reboot terminology against the etymology and historical origins/ meaning of the concept — my chagrin is related to a lack of clear definition/ framing principle across the academy. When the reboot has been defined in academic work, it has not engaged at all with the context, etymology etc at all, and often described rebooting incorrectly. I know this sounds like linguistic essentialism — and it is, to some extent — but prequels, sequels etc are relatively stable concepts. If one was to use sequel to describe texts that do not follow a sequential narrative then I would feel the same. Of course, there will be outlier texts (Romero’s Zombie series is hardly sequential, for instance) and Abrams’ Star Trek is what I term a ‘reflexive reboot,’ that is, it remains within established continuity while also beginning again in an alternative universe for new audiences to have an entry-point. Gilmore Girls may not even be a re-brand or a reboot. It doesn’t actually re-brand does it? It aims to attach itself to an already existing narrative sequence so re-launch works well enough I feel. Let’s continue the discussion, Martin! I’m interested in your thoughts, for sure.

Best Wishes

Billy

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
William Proctor

That’s a good point, Martin. But I feel that the term would then need to be fully defined against its ‘correct’ usage. My issue is not that the reboot terminology is being marshalled to explain all under the sun, but that it is treated axiomatically by academics as if there is not a historical context. All reboots, as you say, are about re-monetization, but I strongly believe that one can analyse reboots/ re-launches/ revivals/ adaptations/ re-adaptations/ retcons etc as discrete ‘strategies of regeneration’ without the need to describe everything as a reboot. If, as you say, it is not about the narrative but about the brand, then that certainly doesn’t follow the logic of rebooting historically. Why would ‘rebranding’ not be sufficient to describe the industrial side of things? Re-Launch explains the narrative side of things as it is a continuation but following a period in the cultural wilderness. The reason for the vagueness around reboots/ remakes/ reimaginations etc, is that the term ‘reboot’ has rapidly grown into a buzz word. Prior to 2005, the term was not in popular use. Again, I expect that journalists would misinterpret the phenomenon, but for scholars not to even define how the word is being used in each individual case is problematic. Following the logic of reboots as re-branding/ re-launching, then, one would have to reconsider Star Trek: TNG as a reboot, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Terminator 2, Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genysis. My own question would be to ask: why the necessity to use the term when others would do? Why does it have to be difficult? To be sure, texts often overlap cross-conceptually so that reboots may also be remakes at the same time — A Nightmare on Elm Street being an example of a remake and an attempted reboot ( attempted because the series did not reboot at all in the end). All reboots remake to some extent, but not all remakes are reboots. All reboots adapt to some extent, but not all adaptations are reboots. Prequels and sequels — and other sequential concepts — do not reboot narratively. I speak about reboots as re-brandings in my book (Reboot Culture: Comics, Film, Transmedia). I am of the view that if one misunderstands the historical context and from where the term emerged and what it means, then that will lead to fallacious outcomes. This has been the trickiest part of my research, to be honest. My perspective is that using the term, reboot, to describe so many media instantiations means that any analysis of the entertainment industrial complex would run the risk of being vague and unclear. Now, just to be clear: I am not claiming that someone shouldn’t define or use reboot terminology against the etymology and historical origins/ meaning of the concept — my chagrin is related to a lack of clear definition/ framing principle across the academy. When the reboot has been defined in academic work, it has not engaged at all with the context, etymology etc at all, and often described rebooting incorrectly. I know this sounds like linguistic essentialism — and it is, to some extent — but prequels, sequels etc are relatively stable concepts. If one was to use sequel to describe texts that do not follow a sequential narrative then I would feel the same. Of course, there will be outlier texts (Romero’s Zombie series is hardly sequential, for instance) and Abrams’ Star Trek is what I term a ‘reflexive reboot,’ that is, it remains within established continuity while also beginning again in an alternative universe for new audiences to have an entry-point. Gilmore Girls may not even be a re-brand or a reboot. It doesn’t actually re-brand does it? It aims to attach itself to an already existing narrative sequence so re-launch works well enough I feel. Let’s continue the discussion, Martin! I’m interested in your thoughts, for sure.

Best Wishes

Billy

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Martin Zeller-Jacques

Really interesting post, Hannah. I’m curious about the general flattening effect of nostalgia in things like the GG revival. Part of my sense in watching A Year in the Life was that it was like watching an old favourite band give a lacklustre performance of their own greatest hits album. Many of the things which felt nuanced and interesting about the original run seemed reduced to one part of what had once made them interesting, but then also essentialized in a way which erased that former nuance. (I’m thinking particularly of townie characters like Kirk, for instance, or even of interestingly suggestive wrinkles like the structuring absence of Mr Kim in the life of Lane and her mother, something which was dealt with in a horribly offhand way in the revival.) Yet at other times the nostalgic aspect of the show struck home with me, as in the almost magical return of the Life and Death Brigade, which seemed to comment on Rori’s own nostalgia for an earlier, easier time, rather than just flatly replicating it.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Martin Zeller-Jacques

Doesn’t this really depend on whether you’re using reboot to describe what’s happening with the narrative as opposed to what’s happening with the text/brand? The narrative of GG may be continued, rather than rebooted (though given the ambivalent status of Season 7 in the eyes of Palladino, even that, I think, is debatable), but the brand is surely being rebooted, in that its value is being reinvigorated. I suspect on the reason for the vagueness in popular use around reboots/remakes/reimiaginations, etc. comes from the fact that, to media producers, the purpose of these sometimes very different narrative strategies is always to re-monetize dormant brands.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
William Proctor

There is a set definition of the term which I explored in my PhD (which was, unsurprisingly, on reboots) and forthcoming book which studies the phenomenon. Now the term obviously derives from computer technology, but the first time the term was used as a narrative technique was in 1994 and it emerged as a comic book concept to describe the Legion of Superheroes which wiped the slate clean to begin again. Even the notorious Wikipedia uses the correct definition: “to reboot means to discard all continuity in an established series in order to recreate its characters, timeline and backstory from the beginning.” From this perspective, even Fuller House is a re-launch as opposed to a continuation. If it continues, regardless of the time span between series, it does not reboot.The term grew into a buzzword around 2005 with Nolan’s Batman reboot — prior to that, the only use was for superhero comics. But as journalists pounced on the word and began using it frivolously to describe adaptations, remakes, sequels, prequels and revivals/ relaunches, then we are in a jungle of conceptual foliage. That it has been misinterpreted by aligning oneself with journalistic discourse is fine as far as it goes. But a lack of historicising is wide spread across the academy and this requires rethinking and further analysis. For if Fuller House is a reboot, then so is Godfather 3.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Amanda Reyes

What surprises me most about bringing back a series like the Gilmore Girls is how little time has passed since its original run. I think, for myself, it feels more like a continuation. Whereas I see Fuller House completely as a reboot. I think that’s where the gray area lies for me in terms of the conception of the term. There’s not set definition for it, and I may agree with William’s ideas above.

However, I do think that sense of nostalgia placed inside a more contemporary structure is really compelling. As you’ve noted, nostalgia plays a huge part in that. I am fascinated by TV movie reunions of old shows, such as Still the Beaver and Return to Mayberry. Because of their idealized structure, they have a lot less room to update the TVMs into something more contemporary and any attempt to do so may alienate viewers (see Mary and Rhoda from 2000 for an example). The Gilmore Girls was already really self-aware, so it had a bit more room to move. The more interesting reboot here for me is Fuller House, since it was cut from the same cloth as The Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver in many ways. I’ve not seen the updated version, but I do know it has been fully embraced.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
William Proctor

Although this is an interesting piece, the use of the term ‘reboot’ is conceptually problematic. A re-launch/ revival and a reboot are not the same thing. Your examples of Fuller House and Gilmore Girls are emphatically not reboots but re-launches. A reboot is a serial concept that disavows or ignores a pre-established narrative sequence to begin again in an alternate narrative universe. Both Fuller House and Gilmore Girls are continuations so they do not reboot. That would involve wiping the slate clean and beginning again as if the originals did not exist in the first place. Of course, reboots can never truly wipe the slate clean as the memories of audiences cannot be expunged like a text. But that is what a reboot aims to achieve: a beginning again.

Melissa N Miller

Hi Alexandra!

It’s been my experience that many of the people who are directly impacted by Twilight fans (shopkeepers, motel/innkeepers, volunteers at the Chamber/Visitor’s Center, for example) have all been complimentary toward Stephenie Meyer and the notoriety that Twilight has thrust upon Forks. Of course, one might expect this kind of messaging from customer service professionals who want to make me feel good about my visit there and continue to spend my time and dollars in their town. However, I believe there is likely a kernel of truth to their statements — the town continues to host an annual “Stephenie Meyer Day” (recently rebranded as “Forever Twilight in Forks”) in honor of her and Twilight (which she has attended), and in this interview (http://vamped.org/2015/10/05/ten-years-of-twilight-visit-to-forks-washin...) the mayor states that he’s pleased she painted the town in a positive light. Still, that’s not to say I haven’t felt twinges of Twilight fatigue from community residents over the years. Tens of thousands of visitors to your town of 3000-4000 has got to be overwhelming after a while.

Meyer had never even visited Forks before publishing the first Twilight book - she just Googled “rainiest place in the US” and Forks was the lucky hit. While no one could have expected that Twilight would become such a success, it doesn’t negate that its popularity was a lot for the town to handle and they have really managed to take the whole thing in stride. But you are right that it begs the question of what she may owe them in return for accepting the monumental responsibility of acting as caretakers to a fandom that they didn’t ask for. The philanthropic opportunities that must exist in the small communities of Forks (and also neighboring La Push), are likely great. One would think someone of her capacity must be making contributions to these communities. But, no one is saying - if she is.

Gene Kelly's House, 725 North Rodeo Drive
Alexandra Edwards

Ahh, so the house is privately owned! Interesting…