Ahh, nostalgia, how nice you are, yet how unbelievably stupid and annoying!!
Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
So basically anytime you experienced something blissful for the first time, and more or less your entire childhood falls under this tyrannical word…nostalgia.
Do I have nostalgic feelings? Absolutely! But I have no problem thinking back to the things I am nostalgic about and realizing that maybe things weren’t so great.
But I seem to be in the minority. People hold on to their nostalgia for life. This is a serious problem, for I feel it prevents progression; I mean this in terms of media and life.
If you are always looking back in the past, always reminiscing about better days, then you will never learn to like anything again and will be forever miserable, for you will always be longing to find something that makes you feel the way that first time you felt whatever it was when you were a kid or whatever. Now add years of nostalgia on top of that happy memory and/or feeling, and your brain deludes you into thinking it was greater than it ever actually was. This effect increases over time, for your actual memory of the event or object or what have you fades, thus leaving only the feelings you had for that, resulting in a cozy little nest for nostalgia to settle in to.
This reminds me of heroin…that’s right, I am saying nostalgia is heroin. They say heroin addicts are constantly using, trying to achieve that first high they ever got from the drug, for that it was the greatest thing they have ever experienced and all theey want is to re-experience it. But they never do, and then they end up dead from an overdose.
Nostalgia is exactly the same, is it not? Though do not worry, I’m rather certain you can’t die from an overdose of nostalgia.
I fortunately/unfortunately have a brother who is like the most nostalgic person I know. He hates everything new because he has such strong feelings for all the things we had or experienced as little kids that he thinks everything else is complete and utter trash.
I am referring to media, like movies. He swears all these movies we watched as children are so amazing and wonderful. While some of them are, a lot of them are not. I mean for little kids they are great, but as adults, they are annoying and impossible to sit through.
Now when I watch a movie that I absolutely loved from my childhood and come to find it’s terrible, I admit I feel disappointed that it wasn’t as good as I remember, but then I immediately get over it. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 was one of my favorite movies of all time when I was young. But I watched the movie about 10 years later, when I was an adult, and found it to be borderline terrible.
Now, I just accept this and move on. Big deal. My feelings on movies when I was 5 versus 25 are going to be different. But people like my brother- they just focus so much on their initial feelings from when we first saw the movie that I am not even sure they are actually watching it, but instead are wandering through some nostalgic wonderland, thinking off all the great times they had as kids and what not.
Now, we could just have differing opinions on things, but this happens on just about everything.
Another example is the SNES. We really only had this console growing up. It was an amazing console back in the 90’s and it certainly still is today. I still play mine, but I have no problems moving on to other consoles and games.
My brother, however, is so nostalgic over the SNES and its many fine games on it, that he won’t even entertain the thought of playing other games. Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid are probably his 3 favorite games, and they are without a doubt three of the best games ever made. But he absolutely refuses to play any Mario, Zelda or Metroid games made afterwards, as if their very existence is an insult to his childhood. Even if he watches a trailer, he will watch the first 10 seconds and turn it off in disgust. If it isn’t a game for SNES, then it is no good, so he thinks.
But this is not entirely true. Another game we played as kids was the WarCraft, Diablo and StarCraft series, so he loves these games too.
Literally all he plays, 20 years later, is all our old SNES games and the Blizzard games for PC, disgusted by everything else out there, with a few exceptions.
He despises Nintendo now, because they dared to move on from the SNES and evolve, like all companies must do to survive.
I was talking with my cousin about Mario Odyssey, and my brother was listening in. He sarcastically said, “Yeah, throwing his hat is so cool. Remember when he did that in the old games?”
This just goes to show you how blinding nostalgia is. Really, that comment can be translated to, “How dare they progress and do something different.” I mean seriously, that is an unbelievably stupid thing to say and makes no sense whatsoever.
Which brings me back to my fear of progression and lack there of. My brother is hardly alone in these blinding, nostalgic feelings. That is why so many companies are trying to force nostalgia into their products, to trick that little kid still living in all of us into purchasing whatever it is. This is not really a bad thing, but again, if we are so focused on the past, we can never truly experience something brand new, fresh and exciting. But most people are afraid of change and would rather feel something familiar when charting new territory, and I understand that, but how long must we be tethered to the past?
And anyway, bringing back old things makes them less special. Now that they are in the here and now, it makes the original lose some of it’s charm. But most people will disagree, because they still have that huge nostalgic feeling clouding their brain. Even if what they are reliving is exactly the same as when they first experienced, it will not be the same to them, swearing it is different, and that is simply because of the nostalgic feelings associated with the original.
And don’t dare try to remake or update anything so sacred. People will immediately hate it, just for being different, whether the product is good or not. Like the new Nintendo games, they are doing nothing but insulting their good memories and childhoods. How often do you hear “the original is the best” or something along those lines. The Halloween remake and Ghostbusters remake comes to mind when thinking about this. And they are just two in a very enormous list.
A perfect example is the Star Wars movies. The original trilogy came out to unbelievable praise and they are probably the most famous movies in history. Then the Special Editions came out, and for literally no reason that I can fathom, a lot of people hated them. That is because of nostalgia once again. LucasFilm dared to change such sacred movies. And really, all they did was more or less put in bigger explosions and add some more creatures. How is that a negative in anyway? Because it insults peoples nostalgic feelings, that’s how!
And then the prequels came out, and everyone hates them. The special editions were forgivable, because it was really the movies fans knew and loved. But now, they got a dose of something different. Most of the complaints about the prequels are completely ridiculous, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t understand why so many people hate them. Until I realized the cause was most likely nostalgia.
I spent my early childhood watching the crap out of the original trilogy. I loved them then and I still do. I love the prequels just as much, if not more. They gave me everything I wanted that the original three lacked. But I see so many people who hate them because they don’t give them the same feeling they got from when they first saw Star Wars. My brother has only seen the prequels once or twice when they first came out, and he hates them, and it’s all because of his nostalgic feelings for 4-6. He doesn’t even remember the movies anymore, but he hates them real bad. To me, if you can’t remember why you hate something, then you mustn’t actually hate it. But that’s what nostalgia wants you to think.
The prequels were a change in formula for the series, but still very much felt like Star Wars, which to me is perfect for when someone makes something new within an existing universe. As long as you are not left wondering where the heck you are, then I welcome all the new stuff.
But then we get to the more recent Episode 7: The Force Awakens. I remember watching the movie in complete awe from beginning to end. This is because first and foremost, I absolutely love Star Wars and have been wanting another trilogy since I first watched Return of the Jedi, but then secondly, because Disney filled the crap out of this movie with nostalgia. It took about an hour after the movie for my nostalgia to wear off and then I realized what a disappointing movie it is. They took hardly any risks with the movie, if any, and gave us Episode 4.1. And people love every minute of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the movie, but it is by far the worst out of the 7. The point I am trying to make here is that progression failed here, because Disney was too worried about appealing to all the nostalgia ridden people who hated the prequels to actually make something new. And it paid off for them, which is what really scares me for the upcoming episode 8, which seems to be not a far cry off from Empire Strikes Back, but I will reserve judgement until I see the movie, of course.
And for the heck of it, I will throw in one more example of how nostalgia blinds people. I am going to mention that good ol’ rapper, Eminem.
He kind of owned the world back in the very late 90’s and early 00’s. His second major album, the Marshal Mathers LP was when he really took off. It reached diamond and I think it still holds the record for fastest selling album. You couldn’t go anywhere at that time without hearing his songs on the radio, the TV, or just people singing them.
Fast forward to today and he’s released a whole lot more albums and I think another should be coming out very soon. In any case, his talents as a rapper have increased rather substantially. He is a far, far better artist than he was 20 years ago. But guess what everyone’s favorite album is, (including my brother’s)? That’s right, the MM LP. Again, I am not saying that that album is nothing less than amazing, but most of his stuff after that has completely destroyed that album. But people hang on to that nostalgia of when they first heard of Eminem and that amazing feeling they got when they heard “My Name Is”and “The Real Slim Shady” for the first time. It doesn’t help matters that Eminem was so controversial and almost taboo that every kid who owned his album was looked up to as some kind of bad ass god. That will certainly swell the nostalgic feelings a bit.
But thank goodness Eminem only focuses on the music and getting better, otherwise, he would hold himself back to please all the nostalgic people who loved his early stuff so much. Thus progression would be thwarted. But this has indeed happened to many artists anyway.
And the best part is…even if someone made something exactly like the thing fans were nostalgic for, even if it was everything good about the original and more…it still would displease them. The creators would be accused of trying to change the original…like a remake, accusing them of being out of ideas. But if they do progress and make something new, better or not, they are lynched for changing and moving on from what has been held so beloved by people.
In other words…nostalgia can not be beat. It has a grip on too many people, and no one can take down something so overwhelmingly powerful.
But I shall conclude my thoughts now. I am not saying nostalgia is a bad thing. It can truly be wonderful. But don’t let that stop you from trying new things and adventuring forth in a world that could have so much more to offer, and who knows, maybe you’ll find something better? You just have to let go of pointless attachments to memories from years and years ago. If you do, they will still be there, but you will see and think more clearly and be more open to just about everything. There is always room to share in that brain of yours, and your heart…