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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The tragic treatment of beloved legacy characters

Disruptivo/Unsplash
Disruptivo/Unsplash

XAVIER BOATNER
campus editor
xavier.boatner@my.tccd.edu 

The latest Scooby-Doo adaptation has raised some interesting questions regarding the treatment of legacy franchises and whether or not this treatment is sustainable.

For context, Warner Bros. decided to kick off the new year right with the release of “Velma.” A strange and seemingly unnecessary Scooby-Doo reboot, reimagining, whatever the executives call it, with 100% less dog and 110% more dark skin! To say this has stirred controversy would be an understatement.

It’s important to note right off the bat that the controversy doesn’t quite stem from the changes in race per se. Fans are showing more concern and frustration over how the studio is devaluing their favorite characters by changing nearly everything about them.

“Velma” is the most recent culprit that springs to mind, but this phenomenon has been happening for quite some time now. 

To start, let’s talk about race-bending. The race-bending of characters or race-bent versions of characters is commonplace in media nowadays. From comic writer Brian Michael Bendis’ and actor Samuel L. Jackson’s interpretation of the traditional white Nick Fury, to Christopher Miller’s Miles Morales, an Afro-Hispanic Spider-Man. 

The purpose of these race swaps is for the sake of representation, and are meant to give people of different backgrounds characters to connect with. It helps that these characters still retain the pathos and charm of their original counterparts. “Velma” does not do this.

“Velma” takes the classic characters and changes their personalities, their voices, their looks and their dynamics. Not only does this raise the question of why this reboot is tied to “Scooby-Doo,” but it also makes people confused as to who this reboot is for.

A thought experiment called “Ship of Theseus” begs the question of whether or not something can remain the same even if all of its core elements are replaced. Let’s look at Miles Morales again. Miles Morales was created to be parallel to the traditionally white Peter Parker. 

Despite being a different character under the Spider-Man mask, Miles still retains the essence and qualities of the character and is all better for it. Velma meanwhile twerks in the mirror, and Scooby-Doo himself doesn’t exist in the show.

This sort of thing sets a bad precedent for the future of reboots, reimaginings, retoolings, remakes and other words that start with the letters “R” and “E” because I want to avoid saying other words that start with “re.”

Studios need to understand that you can revitalize (forget I said anything) franchises without changing everything about them. These characters became icons for a reason, and changing everything about them is missing the point. 

Legacy franchises achieved their status by captivating audiences with their unique essence. Franchises should evolve, but with respect to the source material. They deserve better. Audiences deserve better.

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