Not long after the the neon pink letters Dirty Dancing appear over grainy black and white footage flashing to the strains of that familiar drum beat of ‘Be My Baby’, I get this feeling that’s achingly familiar but also vague enough that I can’t figure out why it appears. That indefinable and bittersweet longing for something you know exists in the past and can never be experienced the same way again is nostalgia, the mysterious essence of which has been corrupted through terminal overuse.
Gabe knows what I’m talking about:
“The more you succeed, Nostalgia, the less inclined people will even be to try anymore. But if no one tries anymore than there won’t be anything contemporary to feel nostalgic for in the future. Ultimately, Nostalgia, you are a poorly imagined virus that will burn itself out along with everything else if left to your own devices. Yikes! Even you would be able to see how this is a serious problem if you weren’t too busy looking backward. (BOOM!)”
Being ‘nostalgic’ is a lazy replacement for being genuinely ironic when commenting on or creating content via the tools of the internet. In its current mutation nostalgia is an exhaustive monster enabled by the endless possibilities of remix culture, memes, and the graveyard for once forgotten media known as YouTube. My cousin is currently obsessed with the word and applies it anything that happened in his immediate past. “Oh listen to this song from 2002 – NOSTALGIA.” You sure about that cuz?
Not all objects of cultural expression are worthy of being drudged up and appreciated by modern audiences. In fact most of the content we used to watch/listen to as kids should be allowed to pass into the recesses of forgotten history. Poor production values/politically incorrect attitudes/untalented actors are not automatically funny or nostalgia-inducing. Bygone eras should remain bygone.
How can anything genuinely innovative by created if producers of modern content are beholden to the creative successes of artists of the recent past who are granted immortality by the internet? Would it not be more beneficial if the hazy memories from within an individual’s subconscious filter down and subtly inform new works they create? It is no wonder imitation is rife (and exhausting, imitative, self-proclaimed creative geniuses like Lady Gaga are allowed to thrive) if an overbearing awareness of what came before is at the forefront of our collective consciousness.