We’re in a cultural moment where it feels like so much is being rehashed, repackaged, and resold to a captive audience. This is certainly the case in entertainment, where the Hollywood reboot machine is the driving force behind what makes it to our screens; even “original” programming is frequently built from familiar storytelling tropes and formats. The same kind of recycling — sorry, remixing — holds true in pop music.
This carries over into matters of business and politics with just as much resonance. And when it comes to lifestyle topics like dieting, parenting, and even sex, we wind up circling the drain and repackaging old trends and ideas as hot new fads, too.
What makes newness, or novelty, or originality, so important in the first place, particularly in a society that heavily prioritizes individual comfort and choices? Are we in a uniquely not-new moment, or has it actually always felt this way?
Could we ever really tell a new story about a very old mermaid?
By Alissa Wilkinson
How today’s fight over pornography is rooted in a 40-year-old feminist schism.
By Constance Grady
The endless cycling — and recycling — of parenting advice.
By Anna North
When you democratize finance, you get the good and the bad.
By Emily Stewart
Self-improvement is old. What’s new is the bootstrapping mythos and toxic positivity of the very rich.
By Whizy Kim
Editors: Meredith Haggerty, Alanna Okun, Lavanya Ramanathan, Julia Rubin
Copy editors/fact-checkers: Elizabeth Crane, Kim Eggleston, Tanya Pai, Caitlin PenzeyMoog
Additional fact-checking: Anouck Dussaud, Matt Giles
Art direction: Dion Lee, Paige Vickers
Audience: Gabriela Fernandez, Shira Tarlo, Agnes Mazur
Production/project editors: Lauren Katz, Nathan Hall