Reboots of beloved properties are always a tricky thing. But it seems even the blessing and/or involvement of the original creator of a piece of fanatically cherished pop culture is rarely enough to still the fears of fans worried it will...tarnish the original? Destroy their happy memories? Well, definitely something.
Maybe it’s just the idea that something not as good will bear the same name as something you love, which is a fair concern—no one likes cognitive dissonance. Regardless, there was plenty of that last week, after it was announced a new iteration of Buffy The Vampire Slayer would be coming to the small screen, with an as-yet uncast black actress taking over the role of slayer. Social media was immediately filled with responses, some hopeful about the new version of the show, and some notably less enthused. These ran the gamut from your usual “ruin my childhood” whining to legitimate concerns from black critics making salient points about the patronizing feel of reboots based on diversity, and how those reboots are used as excuses for continuing to not grant black actors their own original properties.
New showrunner Monica Breen posted a statement that firmly avoids wading into issues over race, instead focusing on fears about doing a disservice to the original. Her comments are obviously meant to reassure fans that just because it will share the same name doesn’t mean she’s planning to simply plop those characters into newer, younger bodies and do the same thing again:
As far as story, Breen is saying all the right things here, albeit still not saying anything about the racial issues: She’s not going to just reset Whedon’s original creations; she wouldn’t think of making a new version of Willow, Giles, etc.; she wants to look at the Buffyverse 20 years later through the eyes of a new protagonist. These are all good artistic impulses.
The details are still unclear—does this mean we might get cameo appearances from the original cast, Star Trek: TNG-style?—but hopefully it’ll silence people worried that anyone other than James Marsters will ever say the immortal line, “What can I tell you, baby? I’ve always been bad.” Maybe it’ll even give them something to sing about.