Our boy Krum recently wrote an article about why we should just cut the shit with our incessant nostalgia binge–that as a whole, our generation needs to curtail its disturbing tendency to react to anything from THE 90’S with an enthusiasm that rivals that of an overweight high school kid who has just learned it’s too rainy outside to run the mile.
The article is centered on three major points. One, “that nostalgia creates undue praise for mediocre work.” Two, “it’s ability to make someone jaded and hypercritical of the present.” and three, “our engagement with the world may stop, or lessen, if we believe our best days are behind us.” While he makes some pretty poignant arguements, it's my duty as someone who is also in their early 20's to defend the obsession.
As per the rumble rules of BroBible, I’ll address all three and explain why they are indeed, semi-poppycock.
1. Nostalgia Creates Undue Praise for Mediocre Work
This is a valid point. Have you ever watched “Space Jam” as not a nine-year-old? As someone who spent his elementary school years waiting for his parents to go to sleep only to sneak out on the the driveway and pretend to be Michael Jordan, re-watching it as a normal person was arguably one of the top-5 worst decisions of my life. That shit is ruined forever, even with being able to fully appreciate the performance busted out by Bill Murray
That said, I think we’re missing the point here. Even if you consider mediocrity as something that could be universally defined (remember, there was a time in our history that people dug The Pussycat Dolls*), quality of work is always relative to its audience. Think of DJ trying to play Skrillex at a cocktail party celebrating a couple’s 30th anniversary. Sure WE may (or may not) enjoy the Skrill-man, but that enjoyment is a metric that can’t possibly be applied to every situation. Same goes for movies like Space Jam, which was meant for little kids and not cynically detached 23-year-olds.
Sure “Kazaam” sucked, but the only people praising Kazaam are people bathing in the sea of low-hanging fruit that is outdated pop-cultural references that have somehow been passed on as legitimate humor. What?
2. Retro Shit Can Make Someone Jaded and Hypercritical of the Present
This premise is very true. Except that as we all know, the world today is complete bullshit now and things used to be a lot better.
But seriously, I do not think this solely applies to our current nostalgia binge. Consider the monstrosity that was the election, with the internet being so disgraceful it was pretty much impossible to log onto your various networks without immediately wanting to whack everyone with a binder full of horses and bayonets.
The world we live in today is simply WAY oversaturated in terms of content (the fact that I can write this article and thousands on thousands of people can read it–and then talk about how important they are relative to this bullshit I am writing–being a prime example), and the 90’s just falls victim to that.
Of course this may be proving the very point, but it also may be the effect of nostalgia in any era. If the internet existed in the early 80’s, would there not be a similar, likely more intense phenomenon dealing with “the 60’s, dawg” and the Summer of Love?
Since this oversaturation is a pretty new phenomenon, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to quantify it in terms of “shit used to be dope, but now it isn’t” quite just yet. Will people not be rocking out to “Levels” in 2019, reminiscing how amazing those times were? Of course they will.
3. Our Engagement with the World May Stop, or Lessen, if We Believe Our Best Days are behind us.
Could not disagree with this more. Part of this is simply the reality that everyone of every age can’t stay current in everything–otherwise shit would never be cool. Again, not to beat a dead horse and bayonet, but part of getting older is thinking that the current music (that all those darned kids listen to) is complete shit. Of course 20-something’s shouldn’t totally be at that out-of-touch juncture just yet, but it’s a process that has to begin at some point.
Furthermore, I’d like to argue that our obsession with Tom Gugliotta Jerseys and Crawfish Boils from 1998 isn’t so much retro as it is actually current– a trend that might be past its peak yes, in the sense that it’s more of a late 2000’s thing as opposed to something exclusively from 1999. What I’m saying more or less, is that expressing all this retro stuff in a way that wasn’t expressed back in the day would mean that it’s actually current. Sure John Starks may have played for the Knicks in 1990’s but was he also your beer pong uniform back then?
Take this video for example. It takes what used to be (the theme), and improved on it remarkably by combining it with what is decidedly now (the music, production quality, visual style). Had the music erred closer to something like “Blind Melon” or 90’s Green Day, no chance it’s received anything CLOSE to how well it was. It uses retro to make something refreshingly new, which arguably increases our engagement in the world and all that good stuff.
All in all, the old days are the old days. Sure we may overdo it, but for better or for worse, that’s kind of our thing.