A Sound of Music Obsessive Discovers Remake Rage

1964: Actress Julie Andrews performs musical number in the movie
1964: Actress Julie Andrews performs musical number in the movie “The Sound Of Music” directed by Robert Wise. Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

I am indifferent to most fanboy passions; I don’t like horror movies or aliens and have never read a comic book. I do not mention this proudly, but only to explain why, until recently, I could not understand the hysterical outrage that surrounds the announcement (and, often, follow-through) of most Hollywood remakes. I rolled my eyes at the Star Trek blog posts calling for J. J. Abrams’s head. I didn’t plan to see the new Carrie, so I didn’t understand why the angry De Palma fans couldn’t just skip it, too. Total Recall, Road House, Point Break, Poltergeist, Oldboy — these reboots didn’t sound particularly promising to me, but I wasn’t attached to the originals, and I didn’t see why adults needed to get so huffy about their existence. Sometimes you renovate houses; sometimes you remake movies.

And then — you saw this coming — they found me and my particular area of nerddom: The Sound of Music. I spent the majority of my childhood performing a one-woman version of the Julie Andrews classic in my parents’ living room. I would jump from couch to couch during “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” just like Liesel did (albeit on benches) in the movie. I had a tiny violin case that I used in place of a guitar for “I Have Confidence” and “Do Re Mi.” My cover of “Favorite Things” was convincing enough that my mother rewrote the lyrics and forced me to perform it at a family reunion, at which point I learned (from my cousins’ faces) that running around yodeling and fighting imaginary Nazis was not something that all children did. The Sound of Music movie was so hugely, weirdly important to me as a child, as it was to a lot of people (like you, probably, if you chose to read this piece), that when NBC first announced plans to air tonight’s live version of The Sound of Music, with Carrie Underwood as Maria, my first instinct was outrage — the pure, fiery outrage of a fangirl. The kind of outrage I’d always mocked.

Intellectually, I knew that I was being ridiculous, as did the people around me. “They’re remaking the original stage musical, not the movie,” my editors explained gently, as if the distinction would matter to me (or anyone else, really. It’s mostly the same songs, and Julie Andrews has already had to give her blessing). “Carrie Underwood isn’t so bad,” added a friend. Plus, the movie is a little ridiculous to begin with, Linda Holmes pointed out at NPR. And yet I felt personally betrayed and found myself yelling the sorts of things I’d only sneeringly read on message boards about The Amazing Spider-Man: “The original already exists!” “The new one is an affront to humanity!”

That last point may still turn out to be true — those promos look questionable at best — but it has nothing to do with the rage I feel about its existence. They could hire Amy Adams, spend $200 million, rent out the entire city of Salzburg (all good ideas, probably, or at least better than NBC’s fake-Broadway conceit) and I would still hate a new Sound of Music, because I finally realize that Remake Anger is not about the new product. It is about our attachment to the old; it is nostalgia, in that we want to preserve and seal off the thing that is dear to us. The original Sound of Music taught me to sing and kept me company, and so I am fiercely loyal to it. I will not stand for any others.

Somehow I have managed to avoid this sentiment until now. (It is actually a wonder that we made it this long without a Sound of Music remake; that movie is nearly 50 years old.) But Hollywood does not revere much of anything, and I can already see a long sad road of emoji-fied remakes stretching out before me: Clueless, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Home Alone: The New Generation. They will sneak in and turn all of my cultural touchstones into relics, until I am an old woman clutching a copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary screaming, “No, it was a diary. That you write in. Haven’t you heard of diaries?!” So I would like to use this opportunity to apologize to the Trekkies and the horror fanatics and anyone else that I have ever doubted on this topic. Remakes are hurtful. I get it now.

A Sound of Music Obsessive Discovers Remake Rage