We can remember it for you wholesale
Nostalgia isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be
Our inner-child can help keep us sane. Then again, he or she can also lead us to make some pretty poor decisions and keep us in a state of arrested development. But it seems as if there are more and more attempts in popular culture to retard our cultural maturity. This isn’t to say that pop culture used to be the path to adulthood, but recently it seems that the intoxicating aroma of nostalgia produced by current pop culture is actually leading us away from adult life and back to the loving arms of our Rainbow Brite footsie pajamas.
I understand that nostalgia is not going away any time soon nor is it a recent phenomenon, but the distance between the present and our rose-colored past keeps growing shorter.
When VH1 did “I Love the 70s” and “I Love the 80s,” I thought, “Oh my, what an interesting look at the trends of yesteryear. Now I understand all those Family Guy references.” But then last year VH1 did “I Love the 90s,” and it seemed rather odd. Why are you talking about The Sixth Sense?
Unless you’re currently under the age of ten, why would you need to be reminded? Who doesn’t know where the line “I see dead people” comes from? It just seemed plain wrong that we had “I Love the 90s: Part Deux” earlier this year.
Now, I’m no historian, but I’ve spoken to some who have confirmed that the ’90s only ended about five years ago.
So where’s the longing? It seems to be the equivalent of telling someone good-bye, walking five feet away and then turning around and shouting, “I miss you!” If we don’t learn to let go a little, then we’re gonna be subject to “I Love the Last Month Strikes Back,” and I think we can all agree that no one other than Michael Ian Black would want that to happen.
But where there’s a hole in your soul, you can rest assured there’s someone else ready to fill it with over-priced stuff.
Let’s take a look at the clothing chain, Hot Topic, a store I like for some of its amusing products, but mostly hate because of everything else it sells.
Other than making money off punk, emo and goth kids (because hey, who doesn’t like being stuck in a room with them?), Hot Topic wisely tries to cash in on nostalgia before the nostalgic potential customer has time to spend his money on little things such as “student loan payments” and “food.” Along the walls, you can see T-shirts featuring the old Nintendo controller, Care Bear plushies and Tinkerbell bed sheets.
While such items can be useful conversation starters, I don’t think that overcoming shyness is the main reason for purchasing these items. The reason they’re made is the same reason you buy: nostalgia.
Not all nostalgia is bad, but it can be problematic when you choose to ignore the good adult sense you’ve earned and instead go back to your childhood value judgments. For instance, look at the 1986 David Bowie film, Labyrinth.
Despite the scene-stealing performance of Bowie’s package, it isn’t a good movie. If anything, it should push you to grab a more classic version known to some as The Wizard of Oz (it’s very important you make sure “The Wizard of” is in front of that “Oz” or else you will be in for a less-than-magical time; the Dark Side of the Moon album will not sync up at all). Rather than expand our world, we keep it small and insular.
As much as I would like this to be a black-and-white issue, it’s not, because we all have to appease our own inner child in different ways.
Some might see action figures (not dolls; dolls are for girls) as an acceptable decorative piece, while others see them as childish substitutes that would look like Greek kouroi if they were smaller and could hold lightsabers.
If you think wine-tastings and talk of orange futures are boring, that’s fine, but don’t run to the opposite side and start proudly jamming aspirin up your nose and tying tampons together to make nunchucks so you can pretend to be Michelangelo (the ninja turtle, not the painter, although he might have used nunchucks; I’ll have to check with the historians).
For your wallet’s sake, for your self-esteem’s sake, and for our
culture’s sake, drink from a big kid glass and step away from the sippie