2013: Batman and Spiderman recycled again? Or a real New Year?

John Cleese BnaksyNobody likes a landfill site, particularly when such a high percentage of what it contains is soiled ‘disposable’ nappies. They take even longer to recycle than it took for flared jeans to come back into fashion.

I don’t think anyone would dispute recycling is a far better option than literally dumping our old crap into a hole in the ground. But while recycling old rubbish is key to extending our life on Earth, recycling the wrong things could just as easily send us the way of the Dinosaurs.

We have become so good at recycling that there really is no excuse for the continent sized flotilla of junk drifting across the Pacific Ocean. If we can prevent steel erosion with old fag butts, why can’t we fish that rubbish out of the sea and turn it into something nice? It’s probably only a matter of time until we can. Because, when we set our minds to it, humans are pretty damn resourceful.

Joseph Murray was a recycling pioneer. In 1954 he transplanted a kidney for the first time from a healthy man into his dying twin brother, who lived for another eight years as a result. It wasn’t so much the transplanting of the organ that worried Murray, rather getting the pesky thing to remain happy in its new home. He succeeded in addressing the foreign tissue rejection issue and won a Nobel Prize in 1990 for his efforts. Thanks to Murray, since 2005, we are now even recycling faces. Icky or not, that’s pretty amazing.

Just before Murray’s recent death, scientists isolated olfactory cells from the noses of paralysed dogs and recycled them in their spines. Those dogs are now practically fetching sticks again. Sod turning old plastic and glass bottles into new ones, wine corks into floor tiles and cooking oil into fuel. We can now turn old noses into new legs.

Through our recycling ingenuity, we are prolonging our lives and the life of our planet. Horribly ironic then, that while science is working so hard to keep us alive, recycled entertainment is in danger of boring us to death. There is always space for the classics. But as much as I love Fawlty Towers and Billy Conelly’s stand up, if I had to watch them every day I’d be looking for something to jam in my eye.

Why is Hollywood recycling the Batman and Spiderman movies yet again? In the mountains of scripts on directors’ desks, written by as yet unknown writers, I find it hard to believe that there are NO new stories worthy of a punt. We are a world of innovators; artists, musicians, philosophers, and we are creating brand new material every day. Half an hour on YouTube and your mind is blown by the sheer volume of originality. So why are we obsessed with recycling stuff that was briefly cool 30 years ago?

Instead of the endless 80s remakes – Footloose (bleurgh), 21 Jump Street (really?), Porky’s (I’m not kidding!), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (kill me, kill me now) – we need to give new talent a chance.  Is there no hope that we might find something better than old stuff deconstructed and remade? Has entertainment been reduced to Lego?

This avalanche of recycled old crap could cause as much damage as global warming. The scientists we rely on to generate the genius inventions of tomorrow are people too. They thrive, as we all do, on new cultural ‘input’. (Short Circuit, 1986. Bound to be coming again to a cinema near you soon).

Stimulating, forward looking entertainment is extremely important to civilisation. Some of our best inventions started out as science fiction. Our future is doomed if all we do is recycle our past.

Humans are complex creatures. Sometimes, as Murray knew, we reject things despite them being good for us. Right now, it seems we’re struggling to reject things that need drop-kicking into obscurity. We can’t continue to produce brains capable of saving our planet, when recycled has-been culture is turning us off.

For the sake of our future generations, we need to find the ‘eject’ button on our cultural VHS player and hit it now.

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About Sally Nursten

Writer. Mother. Lover of life and all its twisty-turny ways.
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