This weeks digest contends with the importance and value of nostalgia. How it allows for us to have an escapism to times when ‘we’ felt safer, but, also creates a way to connect across generations over a shared popular medium. Finally showing its importance in creating cultural symbols and the emotions that allow for them to exist.
To understand the present we must look to the past and find a level of engagement with the ‘good ol days’ nostalgia and tropes often pioneered by media outlets. But why is this important? Whilst some often say it is reductive as it holds culture in a kind of freeze frame, others value nostalgic daydreaming in the way it unites and unify’s those in unexpected ways by kindling a passion for something or someone who can hold popularity. Whether that be in its original era or today. Daisy Buchanan’s, Guardian, piece highlights this in relation to her love for the 90’s cult classic “Clueless”. Buchanan here argues that nostalgia and the connection it provides allows for an intergenerational common ground that is sorely needed within the world. Finally its importance to culture is highlighted by the desire too, “keep revisiting the old, if we want people to make the world feel new” (Buchanan 2016).
Of recent we have seen these trends of nostalgic revival everywhere. Whether than be the wave ofPokemon Go capturing the hearts of those 4, 14, or even 40 or the scrambling to get memorabilia from shows thats final episodes aired before some of those buying it was born. The desire to have pieces of the past is well and truly booming, especially in Western, consumer, culture. But where is its popularity coming from? As argued in J.W. McCormack’s, Vice article it lies within the televised, once again highlighting the power and potency of the media to attract peoples interest. Moreover gaining traction due to the fact, “the present is singularly unappealing, and so the past suddenly seems an easy thing to reckon with by comparison” (McCormack 2016). Current day in many ways is sort of a cultural mess, so understandably why not yearn for the days when things were simply ‘cool’?
So what does the move toward a culture of nostalgia highlight? Undeniably the power of memory and how it can privilege the times we grew fond of which gives companies the ability to capitalise. Not only on specific types of cultural trends but also on peoples life histories that formulate powerful money making machines. This of course brings me back to Pokemon GO. How it has revived a snapshot in time of ‘our’ lives but also has an ability to ‘live’ a fantasy of youth. ’We’ can now find Pokemon in the world around us. Highlighting something key in nostalgias ability to manipulate culture. It is not just about the memory, but, what the memory makes people feel, the emotions that drive it to become the force it is. Highlighted in this BBC article.
However this branch of nostalgic escapism is not just specific to media or digitised outlets. Karen Yossman details this in relation to fashion and the Project Runway-esque show at this years Comic Con. Further cementing nostalgia and pop culture go hand in hand to allow ‘us’ to revisit our youth in a meaningful way. Though escapism is not something that should be frowned upon in culture rather it should be promoted to allow for a ‘safe’ zone amongst the atrocities that happen the world over. “In a world right now where so many crazy things and terrible things and scary things are going on, everyone needs an escape, and everyone needs something that just gives you hope, and makes you happy.” (Yossman 2016).