Your childhood is too fragile
Being a fan of Transformers insulated me pretty well. I don’t mean a casual fan that didn’t realize the franchise had run pretty much continuously in one form or another since 1984, the generation that played with the toys as kids and then realized that Michael Bay was making a movie based on that franchise. I mean that I was a fan as soon as I was old enough to understand what the show was. I wrote a long string of fanfics about stuff during Beast Wars. I was a big fan.
So I sure as hell was disappointed when the film turned out to be a terrible cluster of explosions and bland, ignorable characters. But I also knew the difference between that and childhood ruination, which would be impossible without the aid of a multi-directional time machine.
I’m not saying that this franchise and the characters it contained were not childhood icons, because they totally were. I’m saying that the internet is full of people who have either never ended their childhoods or have some really weird ideas about how things happening now would affect their younger selves. If your childhood is being ruined by a modern remake of something you enjoyed when you were younger? Your childhood is way too fragile.
I’d be lying if I pretended this meant that every new element cashing in on old childhood fascinations was good. I just said that the Transformers film was insufferable garbage, and every subsequent one has been no grand improvement. It just has nothing to fucking do with my childhood, because my childhood had been over for a long time before the first of those movies hit the theater.
Yes, it might be a little disturbing to realize that the things you identified with as a child were, in fact, created by heartless multinational corporations in the hopes that you would spend money on products. But the time for that revelation to stun you is, well, quite a bit earlier than adulthood. That would be when your childhood is ruined, and it’s ruined insofar as you’ve taken a step toward maturity that you’re aware of even if you can’t totally explain what happened. But that’s not really the fault of anyone beyond the natural propensity of a childhood brain, is it?
No, when you’re complaining about your childhood being ruined, you’re complaining that something which used to be true isn’t true any longer. That things have changed and you don’t want them to change, damn it, you like things the way they are? Why do companies ruin things by changing them from their perfectly acceptable original incarnations?
The answer is that they don’t. Companies change things when the original just doesn’t work any longer, or at the very least they don’t think they do.
You can always debate whether or not changes are for the better, but the fact of the matter is that most large companies are even more change-averse than fans of their properties. Every change represents potential lost money, after all. Who do you think wants to take that risk? No, the only way a major company is going to take that risk is if it’s pretty sure that not changing is even riskier.
I’m not going to say this is a universally good thing – there are always boneheaded exceptions, after all – but the fact of the matter is that change in a franchise that you love is a good thing. What you loved as a kid cannot remain static and unchanging forever; if that happens, it becomes stagnant. Stuff needs to change with time. In theory, at least, it becomes better – Transformers is steadily progressing from being a series wherein everyone is a guy except for the lone pink girl to a series where characters like Windblade and Strongarm and Moonracer and Arcee have no shortage of opportunities and are accepted as part of the gang.
But even if you’re not one of the bags of dicks trying to justify your sexism or racism by protesting a change that specifically addresses one of those personal failings, none of this shit has any bearing on your childhood. Not a single bit.
You don’t like the newer Final Fantasy games? That’s fine, the older ones are still out there! They have gone nowhere. Your memories of them will not be erased when you pop in Final Fantasy XIII-2, I promise. Don’t like the new Amazing Spider-man films? Don’t watch them! Again, the old ones are still there. The old stuff doesn’t evaporate when new stuff comes out.
Oh, but you wanted this stuff to remain yours forever? Even when you stopped being the target audience? Tough shit. The rest of the world is not there to justify your nostalgia, and you are not in any way meant to be the target audience for everything. It is entirely possible – and by “possible” I here mean “definite” – that your hazy childhood memories are not a successful test for what a franchise should do forever and ever from this point onward.
The cynical bastard in me wonders if part of the neverending affection for some properties like Nintendo’s catalog isn’t based chiefly upon the fact that these things don’t change. I can pick up a new Legend of Zelda game and be reasonably sure of getting the same core experience that I got when I played my first Legend of Zelda game; ditto Metroid and Super Mario Bros. and Wario Ware and so on. You’ll also notice how one of the big flashpoints for whiny pissbabies is the inclusion of Rosalina into the main Mario cast, culminating in someone buying as many of her figures as possible out of some misguided sense of spite…
There’s nothing wrong with still loving what you loved as a child. But changes to it after you are no longer a child do not in any way damage your childhood or have any impact upon it whatsoever. Sure, it’s nice if a franchise grows up with you, but that rarely happens, and it’s not a failing on the franchise’s part when it doesn’t. Sometimes the things you loved as a child should be repurposed to be a fond memory for someone else.
Yeah, Transformers has changed a lot. But that has no bearing on my childhood, because I’m not a child any longer. Grow the fuck up.