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Published: Friday, 3/21/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

CULTURE SHOCK

We live in a do-over culture

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

We’re all familiar with the “do-over,” the chance to start fresh when something hasn’t gone the way you the wanted it to.

As a kid, it’s typically a means to reset a game or challenge for a hopefully better result — unless, of course, this is prohibited by the dreaded “no do-over” rule.

Do-overs extend far beyond children’s games on the playground. For nearly a decade they’ve become an increasingly important part of the Hollywood corporate strategy when it comes to their tent-pole franchises.

Studios call their do-overs reboots, which are used to either resuscitate a dead or dying franchise (Man of Steel) or restart a franchise entirely including a new cast and director, one who typically has a new and improved vision for the films (The Amazing Spider-Man).

Then there’s the rather Matryoshka doll-like reboot of the reboot, which, if rumors are to be believed, is the fate of Fox’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, a film well into pre-production stage and now temporarily shelved while a new script is written, and a new director and cast are hired. It’s a scenario that reminds me of the opening screen credits gag in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which those responsible for sacking the original crew hired to make the credits, were, in fact, sacked, as were the people who later sacked them. If you’ve seen the movie, you get the reference.

It happens in music as well. The Dave Matthews Band shelved an entire album before it was released, ultimately opting to include some of those songs in their original and re-recorded versions on the 2002 record Busted Stuff.

In fact, the more I thought about the do-over, the more I realized how prevalent it is in our world — we just don’t think about it in those terms.

The auto industry calls its do-overs “revamped” models, such as Ford’s new-look Ford Focus for this fall and its 2015 Mustang, and corporations, when under duress or looking for easy positive publicity, might launch a fresh marketing campaign to reintroduce itself to the public, a do-over known as rebranding.

And how many scandal-plagued politicians through the years have we watched grovel for voter sympathy, pleading for forgiveness and a fresh start?

I suspect the most common do-overs, though, occur in the food and beverage industry — often in either desperation or stupidity, and sometimes both.

Perhaps the best known industry example is “New Coke,” the legendary disastrous replacement to the original Coke formula no one asked for. Ever.

Released April 23, 1985, New Coke was greeted with derision and anger by many of its long-standing consumers. Coca-Cola Co. re-released its original Coke months later, rebranded as “Coca-Cola Classic.” It took nearly 20 years, but New Coke eventually was discontinued, long after Coca-Cola Classic went back to being Coke.

Pepsi, of course, has had its flops as well, such as Crystal Pepsi, a soft drink that looked like bath water and tasted only slightly better. While not a do-over, per se, Crystal Pepsi represents the increasing trend of random new flavors of popular products introduced into the marketplace. Because, if there’s one thing humanity consistently embraces, it’s sudden and random acts of change.

Recently, Oreo tried this approach with two new cookie varieties: cookie dough and “marshmallow crispy,” otherwise known as a Rice Krispies Treat. Neither cookie tastes as advertised. After eating a couple, I wished for a do-over as well.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. The no do-over clause is binding.

Though I suspect there are those with March Madness tournament brackets who wish otherwise.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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