by Ron Mwangaguhunga
Everyone nowadays is anxiously rebooting. And by rebooting I don’t quite mean a vigorous work wear boot. In the penultimate week of August, for example, Donald Trump rebooted his meandering, sour-grandpa campaign. The value add of data-driven Kellyanne Conway as the new Team Trump campaign manager signaled that, for good or for ill, the GOP standardbearer of the angry demographic feels the need to give it another try, to reintroduce himself to an already on-edge American public.
If politics is all about the strategic reset, then Hollywood nowadays is all about legacy-quels, the sequels and the reboots. The Woods was a stealth sequel to The Blair Witch Project. There will be a Blade Runner sequel in 2017, set decades after the 1982 original film. Also next year look forward to sequel/reboots of: Resident Evil, Trainspotting, John Wick, Wolverine and Guardians of the Galaxy. Is there any originality left in La-La Land? All this revisiting of past storylines is enough to give a movie-viewer a considerable case of Whiplash (nb: no sequel date yet set for that 2014 film about abusive drum instructors).
The word “re-boot” itself though apparently not the concept is a no-no among the cognoscenti, particularly on the left coast. So toxic is the term that The Rock – of The Fast and Furious franchise, rebooting in 2017 – recently made it perfectly clear that the new Jumanji is NOT a reboot. On Instagram he wrote: “for the record we are NOT making a reboot, but rather a continuation of the awesome JUMANJI story.” Whatever, Dwayne.
Economically as well, the pendulum swings. “With economies all over the world growing too slowly and little scope left for new monetary stimulus, governments are turning their attention back to fiscal policy,” said recently the august Bloomberg View. What a sagacious way to say, essentially: reboot, reboot, reboot.
What is with all this rebooting and resetting? Whether or not The Trump or The Rock or even the Council of Economic Advisors want to admit it publicly, a reboot is a reboot is a reboot, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. And this Olympian-level athletic contortioning of all kinds by the culturally, politically and economically powerful suggests strongly that something indeed is amiss in the land of milk and honey. But what?
The State of the Union, quite frankly, is gloomy. A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll of the last several years shows a virtually unchanged amount of stress/worry among Americans from the Great Recession of 2008 to the present. Despite the bright economic indicators and rosy labor statistics we are still a very, very stressed out people. That might explain the rise of Trump, the various public reboots to get his message right. It might also explain, at least partly, why we keep going back to the movie theaters shelling out our hard-earned money for tickets to re-visit the same familiar characters and stories that we saw last year or the year before.
What is to be done? Stress is an inevitable aspect of life and, unfortunately, we live in a particularly stressful and turbulent era. While we cannot control the vast forces that influence us culturally, politically or even economically, we are stewards of our own physical real estate. As simple as it might sound, a good workout is a wellknown coping technique in a world gone antsy.
Reconnect with your body. Perhaps instead of a sequel or a reboot or the political circus on the cablers you might prefer to throw on some particularly fly athleisure gear and have a good workout or smooth yourself out with some restorative yoga? The most useful reboots do not involve politics, culture or the economy. Your body is calling. Say no to reboots and say yes, dear reader, to rebooty.ing
Ron Mwangaguhunga is a Brooklyn based writer focused on media, culture and politics. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, IFC and Tribeca Film Festival, Kenneth Cole AWEARNESS, NY Magazine, Paper Magazine, CBS News.com, and National Review online to name a few. He is currently the editor of the Corsair.