Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

Matthew Lillard as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo in the action=comedy adventure “Scooby-Doo 2,” a reboot of the classic cartoon.

Matthew Lillard as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo in the action=comedy adventure “Scooby-Doo 2,” a reboot of the classic cartoon.

Warner Brothers Pictures

Over the last few years, I’ve seen several well-worn 90’s television shows and films get rebooted. From Barbie, Pokemon, Sonic, and the Ninja Turtles to The Proud Family, That 70s Show, and Scooby-Doo, Hollywood is regularly re-selling my childhood back to me but slightly different. Now, shows consistently position people of color in speaking roles, multiple languages are spoken on screen, heroes are queer and proud, and people with hearing and physical disabilities are part of the crew. While some might consider this a “politically correct” turn for Hollywood to take, these new shows and films allow us to see ourselves and potentially our childhoods differently.

In a nation of 360 million people, we should have never had shows and films that either completely erased people of color as well as queer, disabled, or multilingual people from our popular culture. Yes, there are communities like those I worked in New Hampshire, where 98% of the population is white, able-bodied, and heterosexual, but that is a rarity and always has been. We have always been a multinational, multilingual, and multiabled population and it is nice to finally see that in the popular culture available to us. Even “Sex and the City” couldn’t be rebooted without addressing the glaring erasure of nonwhite people in New York City of all places in its 1990s fame.

I do have an issue though with the regurgitation of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Yes, Millennials (generation born between 1980 and 1999) are now of age to make consumption decisions with their expendable income — however limited with student loans, inflation, and stagnant wages — and share their favorite childhood moments with their kids. But the lack of creativity also declines our cultural evolution beyond diversity in representation. Despite backlash that continues to make changes in our legal system from taking place, our world has changed and our creative and entertainment industries must change too. Perhaps the now settled WGA and SAG writers strikes are an opportunity for all of us to support new ideas, rather than old shows and films that simply sprinkle in some demographic diversity. Supporting new ideas not only requires paying writers and actors a living wage, but it also requires that we support intellectually the arts, humanities, and creative industries that provide us entertainment.

AI can make some parts of our lives easier so that we can create and imagine new worlds to conquer, people to love, and languages to learn. But to do that, we have to leave the 90s where it should be—in the past. And financially support teachers, students, and creatives who make our favorite shows sparkle and our thoughts about those shows worth sharing.

Aria Halliday is an associate professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, African American and Africana Studies and International Film Studies at the University of Kentucky and the author of “Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture.”

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