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Leaving the past behind.

February 5, 2015

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." That's the closing line of The Great Gatsby, a story where the characters see obsessed with the past. Everybody wonders about Gatsby's past, what he did to earn his riches and who he was before. Whereas Gatsby's mind is completely in the past, looking to rekindle a romance, expecting everything to continue as it was before and desire shapes the whole story. I'd recommend reading the book or seeing the most recent film but to put it simply (and to paraphrase more literature), the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

 

Anyway, being unemployed and stuck at home means that there have been plenty of occasions where the past was all that was on my mind. I'd think back to my days in education (mainly university) and remember how great it was to balance social life and education while the impending decision of what to do with my life afterwards seemed a long way away. Whether it was going to lectures or hanging out with friends, I always had something to do if I wanted to and settled into a good routine. It's good to reminisce every now and again but when you look back to the past to be reminded of a better time, then it becomes dangerous.

 

For example, I'd mentioned in an earlier blog post how I considered the graduation ball to be one of the greatest nights of my life and it's great when it crosses my mind every now and again. Sometimes though, it would make me wonder if a better occasion was coming along and the thought that the night might be the peak of my life had the potential to put me in a bad mood. In truth, any future occasions will have a lot to live up to but the problem right now is the lack of occasions that seem on the horizon. I've been back to Portsmouth to see friends many times and I've enjoyed myself so, in that sense, I don't care to consider whether these nights were better than the graduation ball or not as I enjoyed myself all the same.

 

Then, the late-at-night thoughts occur (which I'm sure many people know) where your brain starts to scan your past memories and examines how you could have done things differently for specific occasions. This is one time where people need to forget about the past because there's nothing you can do about it and yet your brain still wants to remind you of mistakes or missed opportunities.

 

It seems that film, TV and video gaming has been guilty of dragging the past back up. The next-gen video games consoles seem to mainly consists of HD remasters rather than original games. Don't get me wrong, remastering games for a new generation can be great especially when there are iconic games that can be improved. However, what has put me off a next-gen console for now is the lack of original games, where even games for the PS3 are being remastered for the PS4. Television is mainly guilty of lacking originality for children's television. Besides the emergence of "In the Night Garden", many modern kids shows seem to have fallen by the wayside leading to remakes such as The Teletubbies and Thunderbirds with the original creator of The Teletubbies lamenting the lack of new ideas.

 

The film industry has always been littered with remakes and reboots for well over 40 years. There are a lot of reasons why this is a good idea though, particularly reboots. Batman is the particular example that comes to mind. The flop that was "Batman and Robin" was credited with killing the franchise of Batman, until Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman story with great success. A reboot I had hoped would have the same effect was Godzilla. The 1998 film Godzilla was not received well by the critics and Godzilla 2014 was a chance to set that right. While I believe the 2014 film was very successful in terms of box office, it was a very frustrating film to watch and didn't make me look forward to a potential sequel.

One other way film looks to the past is by adding to a film series ended a long time ago. By this, I mean films like the upcoming Terminator film, along with Indiana Jones, Rocky 6 and the most recent Rambo. The previous films in these series had ended over 20 years and suddenly we find that new ones have come out maybe because some film makers don't have the confidence to establish new characters themselves and want to show the audience a familiar face for one more nostalgia trip.

Overall, a bit of nostalgia every now and again is a great release, recalling your love of a film, game, moment but being stuck in the past can potentially make you feel disappointed about your present situation.

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