Certain illnesses come at specific points in your life. Babies are more prone to get diaper rashes, only old people break their hips, you get the idea. I’m in my early twenties, and there is one ailment I constantly see among my demographic. No, not HPV, I’m talking about nostalgia.
I’m finally at the age where the films, food, and fashion of my youth can be referred to (and resold at a higher price) as “retro.” There wasn’t a particular moment when my childhood was admitted to the old school, but slowly and surely I began to notice nostalgia’s stranglehold on my peers. Friends began wearing Ewing jerseys in my pick-up league. Co-workers started playing Super Mario on their smartphones. Hell, I’ve even heard a DJ spin the "All That" theme song in the club (still beats Avicii, but I digress). This may sound harsh, but I think our love of yesteryear is bullshit.
I understand why people are fascinated with days gone by. The present can be a difficult and scary time. We’re saddled with debt, faced with uncertainty and confronted by responsibility. Thus, many of us regress to our childhood. We attempt to return to those drama-free days by copping Jordan re-releases and listening to Sublime. I’m miserable and look at half of my blog posts; I write essays on Lunchables and make "Seinfeld" jokes. It’s not that simple of an equation, but I think there’s a definite correlation between dissatisfaction and nostalgia. I don’t believe LeBron gets as lovesick over Super Nintendo as I do. Still, you may be wondering why I think our spiritual retreats to the twentieth century are problematic enough to deserve a post.
The answer is threefold. First, nostalgia creates undue praise for mediocre work. I know this might be painful to hear, but perhaps "Mighty Ducks 2" is not the single greatest motion picture ever made. I remember a friend of mine texted me in all caps to come over and play the classic "Simpsons" arcade game he had just downloaded on Xbox Live. When I got there, he wasted no time, firing up the system and bracing me for a return to arcade glory. We sat there for a few minutes, forcing a poorly rendered Bart and Homer to trudge through repetitive enemies and simple tasks. By level 2, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to break it to him; the game sucked. He was crushed. I slaughtered his sacred cow that shouldn’t been blessed in the first place. There’s a reason Master P stopped making records past ‘97. Far more dangerous than nostalgia’s ability to transform crap into gold is it’s ability to make someone jaded and hypercritical of the present. Let’s leave the “back in my day…” bullshit for our geriatric years. There is nothing worse than someone who dismisses something simply because it’s new. We’ve all seen the episode of "South Park" where Stan can’t help but notice shit everywhere. Nobody wants to such a cynical life, attaching negativity to anything novel. And besides, One Direction aren’t so bad, are they? (Editor's Note: Oh yes, Krum, they are.) Finally, I don’t want my engagement with the world to stop because I believe my best days are behind me. I don’t want to become the guy who doesn’t get what the late night hosts are poking fun at or the Dad who’s kids beg him to get a new phone because he’s afraid to ditch his old one. When you fail to keep current, you fail to relate to others. And when you fail to relate to others, you become irrelevant. I believe that when you’re so wrapped up in the past, you become averse to things that are new and different. I don’t want to be the caveman who refused to embrace fire either because he was too scared or too complacent with the pre-fire days. Fire is a good thing; whether it’s in the form of a new genre of music or a new outlook on life.
Of course, classics are classics for a reason. They were amazing then and they are amazing now. I appreciate a gem as much as anyone else. All I’m saying is that if we spend all of our time trying to live in the past, there is no room for a better future. (Wow, I need to put that line in a shitty romantic comedy script one day.) For those who think I’m being too dramatic for such a non-issue, what can I say? I was very lucky Sandy didn’t fuck up my life too much; besides for keeping me cooped up with some mid-90s media.
Do you agree that there is too much emphasis on retro culture? Do you think I’m making a big deal over nothing? Are you Bryan McKnight? Do I ever cross your mind, anytime? Leave those thoughts in the comments section!!!
Krum is an NYC based comedian with no appreciation for the days of yore. Follow his new-loving ass on Twitter @KrumLifeDotCom.
[photo via Reddit]