Everything New Is Old Again

While we were on vacation, I had the chance to watch the Tony Awards. Since I love New York theater, I usually enjoy the Tony’s; but this year was disappointing for a number of reasons: 1. It seems Hollywood has taken over Broadway; 2. Catherine Zeta Jones in no way deserved the Tony over the other actresses that were up for the award; 3. Mostly I was disappointed in the “new” offerings coming down out of Broadway this year…except one. (More on that later.)

Granted, the Tony’s give away an award for “The Best Revival of a Musical” every year, but this year there were revivals of revivals, like La Cage aux Folles, Finian’s Rainbow, and a revival of Bye Bye Birdie after a sequel of Bye Bye Birdie had closed a number of years ago after only four performances. (Last October my wife and I happened to see the revival of Bye Bye Birdie starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon…and it was awful! No wonder it closed after only four months.)

Broadway isn’t the only place this is happening. Now I see there is going to be a “revival” of Hawaii 5-O on TV in the fall. And this summer there is going to be a “revival” of The A-Team in the movie theater (…did we really need that???!!!).  It seems that instead of the old adage “everything old is new again,” recently “everything new is old again”!

Where are the people like Jeremy Wood, who has made cutting the lawn a form of art? I read in Fast Company magazine that Jeremy has attached his GPS device to the riding lawn mower he uses to cut his mother’s grass, and then maps it out, so that it looks like a giant etch-a-sketch drawing. How’s that for making something “old” “new” again?

Is our 21st century culture so devoid of creativity that we have to rely on old ideas, and cannot come up with anything new? The writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes famously said about sin, that “there is nothing new under the sun.” When it comes to TV, Movies, Art, Books, Music, and, yes, Broadway Musicals, can we please have something “new under the sun”?

Which brings me back to the one musical on Broadway’s Tony Awards that really caught my eye. There is a new musical based on a conceptual album by punk rockers Green Day called American Idiot. I’m not a Green Day fan, and I’m not even sure I would like the show or its contents. But it was the one “preview” on the Tony Awards that made me say out loud, “now that’s different.” It was intriguing, innovative, and more energetic than almost everything else on the Tony’s this year.

Where are the people who are going to make something new on Broadway, in Hollywood, on iTunes, or in the Book Store? I’m hoping this new generation “gets it” and will contribute things we’ve never seen before. And, frankly, why can’t some of these things come out of the Church…the place where New Creation happens every day? (Within the areas of the Church, of course, where there is Christian freedom.)

What are your ideas, not on making “everything new, old again,” or “everything old, new again,” but on making something completely new?  Please leave a comment with your ideas!

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3 thoughts on “Everything New Is Old Again

  1. The lack of creativity and originality in the movies has been bugging me for years. So many remakes and so many movies with the same ol' story lines! There must be a zillion other scripts out there …

    I've been encouraged by the Act One program … http://www.actoneprogram.com/

    Let's bring in the new!

  2. Insightful article. It is unfortunate that creativity and innovation in our Church is quickly branded heresy. I also don't think creativity is using a Renaissance era painting as a sermon illustration.

  3. The desire to sell a zillion copies of a CD or a zillion tickets leads inevitably to a lowest common denominator mentality. Too often a wide appeal leads to a shallow product.

    Maybe the day of the major studio film is over. There is evidence of this with the incredible popularity of Youtube. People watching other regular people doing crazy stuff or even mundane stuff can be far more entertaining than Angelina Jolie or Tom Cruise ever was.

    The day of the big record label is drawing to a close, too. iTunes, Napster, and the like are responsible for that.

    When it comes to the church, the church used to be society's prime patron of the arts. Not anymore. The church is very guilty of being quick to condemn what it does not understand and for trying too hard to squash creativity when it threatens orthodoxy.

    For me, that is part of the appeal of churches like Willow Creek or Saddleback. That they can take a fresh look at faith and a relationship with Jesus, use the tools they have at their disposal, and come up with creative expressions of that faith without being beholden to artificial rules or traditions. (I'm not anti-tradition either, but tradition should not always be the Stop sign for innovation.)