The Past is Choking The Future: Nostalgia Craze is Kneecapping Good Art.



Nostalgia is killing art. Over the last several years there has been a severe uptick in entertainment’s boldface reliance on the old standbys to make money. This phenomena is not just limited to the remakes and reboots that clutter our movie and television schedules; it’s everywhere: comics, professional wrestling, food and drink (FUCKING FOOD!!!!), even political rhetoric It’s insane, the far reach of the past. Humans want to be comforted by everything we consume.
It’s important to realize what we’re actually nostalgic for and it’s not the actual content of the consumable. For example, who really thinks a show like Full Housewas that good? Do we really think that John Stamos’s performance as Uncle Jesse was so great that we must see it again? No, we remember when we were eight and watching it in reruns after school on TBS. It’s not actually about Full House or Uncle Jessie. It’s about remembering how much easier it was being eight rather than being an adult with expectations and demands on our time. That’s the true thing we are nostalgic for, that undefinable simpler time. That phrase, simpler time, is so, so loaded; it presupposes that if you can recapture one thing about the past, your life will change for the better. However, a can of soda and a TV sitcom aren’t a DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor. A piece of ephemera from the past doesn’t make the future better, it just keeps our culture from evolving in any meaningful way.
What really brought me to this topic of nostalgia was the recent Good Burgerreunion sketch from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. It’s Fallon’s stock and trade to appeal to my age group, who have given themselves the annoying moniker “90’s Kidz!!!” Obviously, every generation thinks they had it better than the youth of today, no matter when today might be. My generation is a whole new level of nostalgic. They’re nostalgic jihadi when it comes to the entertainment sphere. As the demographic with the most purchasing power, they’re the trendsetters and tastemakers and they love them some “classic Nickelodeon” more than they love their own mothers. Anyway, the whole sketch was just Good Burger’s greatest hits: grape nose boy, covering someone in a condiment, Lester Oaks. The problem with this type of comedy is that it’s not actually funny, because it literally has nothing new to offer. It’s not something that’s meant to make you laugh, but rather go, “I remember that guy!! I remember that time!! I remember that!!” Don’t get me wrong, All That and Kenan and Kel were as formative to my understanding of comedy as The Three Stooges were, but I grew and evolved. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a children’s sketch show from 1995 be someone’s be all and end all for comedy. That’s dangerous, living in the past like that, not to mention sad. Good art should, on some level, should make you say “wow.” Good art is not something that makes you say, “Oh yeah, that was a thing.”


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