“The Greatest American Hero” (Don’t Be Old At Heart)


“The Greatest American Hero” was one of the dumbest shows ever on television. I of course loved it and considered it to be both a documentary and guidebook for a great life.

There is no moan louder than someone of a previous generation complaining about something being remade, redone or of sequels and prequels inspiring a new take on an old idea. I should know – because most of the crying is from people of my age or older. Complaining about the alleged lack of imagination of creative teams is a common refrain – and misguided, in my opinion.

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” Ever heard that saying? It’s older than your grandmother’s dentures. It seems that people complaining about remakes are themselves guilty of repeating the same tired cliché?

There are great reasons to turn to an old idea for inspiration. Using something familiar is a sound basis for a new adaption; familiarity and echoes of similarity hearken us back to when we were younger and ostensibly purer. Being able to take something known and trusted and make it fresh and invigorating is a tough task for everyone involved. It’s true – many fail miserably. But they tried. Sometimes, they do it better, with more creativity, and with verve. So often, though, they aren’t given a chance, as people turn their backs on the opportunity to think of something they love in a different way. People love revisiting the people, places, and memories of their pasts. Writers and studios know this and respond with what people want to see.

Most people watch the same litany of shows. Rarely do people flourish and branch out to new genres and types of movies and television as they age. While many might tune in to 15 different shows over time, the truth is that many of those shows are just vague versions of other shows. I won’t make the oft-repeated joke about the 47 iterations of “CSI: Bathroom Break” shows.

As people age, there is a tendency for them to stop being interested in new music. “Music is all crap nowadays.” Or, “The golden days of music were back when…” It’s not true – it is just that we close our minds and ears off to things that don’t fit into the grooves of repeated “normal” that we’ve grown accustomed to. So, we lose the chance to find nuggets of greatness even among piles of dreck. We tune in to the same classic stations, oldies marathons, and retro-music. (Complaining about the music of the day is a direct symptom of getting old at heart.) While I’m on the subject, it is also why there are weirdos claiming that vinyl is better, 8-tracks were more pure in spirit, or that mp3 format is like listening to your mother-in-law read the IRS tax code while gargling.

And we complain about the lack of originality. It’s not “them,” it is “us” who is the problem.

I look forward to the re-imagined “The Greatest American Hero.” They might fail and they might succeed. I figure if one of favorite songs is a mashup of “Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles mixed with “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue (who I loathed when I was younger), I might find something delightful in just about anything – if I keep my mind youthful in spirit and stop learning over and over that I really have no idea what I MIGHT like if I give it an honest chance.

PS: For any old fogeys reading this, a “mashup” is a juxtaposition of two distinct songs, usually done via melody, rhythm and lyrics.

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