These days, it seems like everything is either a remix or a remake. You’ll be listening to the radio and hear a new voice reciting unfamiliar lyrics over a familiar beat. You shazam the song and realize this new, up-and-coming artist is sampling one of your favorite jams from the 90s. Damn! Am I THAT old? The recycling continues through fashion trends, hair styles, preferred vehicles and even cinema. Today, I learned that the History Channel is presenting a re-do of ROOTS on Memorial Day. Oh, the irony.
There are some things that should just be left alone. The Color Purple and Oreos are just a couple of them (in my opinion). Why remake a classic? This ideal changes when we discuss american history. With advancements in tech (specifically in cinema) and the difficulties involved in reaching a new generation of kids using outdated films (kids who hate the cops and white people and don’t know why [thank you social media]), re-telling history in a new and refreshing way is a great idea. New actors are important to the cause. A 22-year-old who can’t identify Kunta Kinte as LeVar Burton aka the host of “Reading Rainbow” should NOT (and probably won’t) watch the 1977 version of “Roots”. Let’s be completely honest. I’ll bet you $100 that the same 22-year-old tuned in to NBC last December to watch the blacked-out cast of “The Wizard of Oz” remake. Why? Because he knew enough about the movie, but hadn’t watched it because he had never heard of Judy Garland.
I remember Roots, barely, and I wasn’t even born when it premiered. My mother was 14, but she watched it and remembers it. Personally, I’m super excited to hear Alex Haley’s masterpiece refreshed and retold with actors that I actually know. As hard as it will be (and always is) to watch and recall how we, as a people, were treated less than 150 years ago, the reminder is always necessary. It is particularly necessary in today’s day and age.
Will you tune in?