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Funkhouser Conversations: Is Too Much Nostalgia A Bad Thing?

NostalgiaThis week, the Funkhouser crew is tackling the big pop-culture questions that need to be answered. Today we are exploring the topic of nostalgia.  Is nostalgia like cute kitten pictures on the internet? (There’s never enough) OR is reminiscing about the past like eggnog? (Once a year is plenty)  Kalan Kucera and I take a trip down memory lane to see if it’s worth all it’s cracked up to be.   Here’s some of our conversation.  

Please note, the email address have been changed to reflect our true, adolescent selves.

Megan Suttles <[email protected]>

To Kalan: 

Hey Kalan,

I feel like I need to be honest.  I am probably the most pro-nostalgia person ever.  I Love the 80s/90s and 2000s were my jam back when Vh1 was a viable channel option.  Do you lean pro or anti-nostalgia?

Kalan Kucera <[email protected]

To Megan: 

I am going to lean against rampant nostalgia in pop-culture. Everyone is always clamoring for more and more of the things that they like, but very rarely is any second helping anywhere near as good as the first. There are countless examples in movies; most kid’s movies, Anchorman, Blues Brothers 2000, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc. where we really didn’t need a second helping and got one anyway. Apparently $24 million dollar’s worth of people were nostalgic for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which doesn’t make sense to me at all.

There does seem to be a huge nostalgia trend in TV with Full House, Arrested Development, Twin Peaks, Care Bears, and more about to somehow return. Do you think it’s a good thing to revisit well-worn, well-loved titles, or should we leave well enough alone?

Cheers!

Megan Suttles <[email protected]>

To Kalan:

I’ll give you that the market is exploiting the public’s love of the past. If people don’t find any entertainment value in the films, then why do they pay $30 to go see Kevin James on a Segway?

There is still, however, a place for nostalgia. Everyone deserves to feel thirteen again. What pop culture gains from this is a memory of all the crap that you used to love. Nostalgia brings back beanie baby mania, Lisa Frank stickers and Celine Dion singing her lungs out as a boat sinks that everyone knew was going to happen. What’s cool about nostalgia is the same crap is happening today. There is Frozen Anything Mania (a la Beanie Babies), emojis are the new Lisa Frank stickers and this year Beyonce re-wrote a song for a movie that everyone knew was going to stink (Fifty Shades of Woof.)

Kalan Kucera <[email protected]>

To Megan:

Hey Megan,

Everyone seems to enjoy thinking about what it was like when they first experienced something awesome, watched an awesome movie, heard an amazing album. I think this makes us want to feel that way again, but isn’t the concept flawed? Don’t we need new things to feel that way again rather than seeing the same thing again?

We know, after all, that nostalgia means ‘pain from an old wound’ in Greek, so does that make our yearning for nostalgia in everything a form of masochism? Every time I’ve seen something I really loved revisited, it doesn’t make me feel the same way, it makes me sad (with a couple of exceptions). I don’t think that any Full House fan is going to derive the same pleasure from Fuller House. It’s going to feel like the tired money grab that it is.

I’m definitely cynical about it all, and I would love to feel what it was like to hear ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ again for the first time, rather than trying to recapture the magic with Hellbilly Deluxe 2. But much like Don Draper has found time and time again, no matter how fervently you pine for it, you truly can’t go home again.

I wanted to add a couple of questions I’ve been mulling over:
1. What pop-culture brought back purely bc of nostalgia has worked? (I think Planet of the Apes has been great)
2. On the whole, do consumers of pop-culture (e.g. you and I) benefit from having our wants given in to?
3. If a new piece of film, art, etc., based off a nostalgic property is abhorrently bad, does it lessen nostalgia for the original property?

Cheers,

Kalan

Megan Suttles <[email protected]>

To: Kalan

You’re right.  You truly can’t go home again, especially when your home was a run-down brothel. There is still value in those beloved things.

1. Fuller House won’t be better than Full House. The entertainment comes from the opportunity to re-open the conversation about the topic. It allows people to throw out the old catchphrases and their favorite episodes. The new, re-worked thing doesn’t have to be better, it just has to work as an opportunity to revisit the source material.

2. Art should not serve the market. If you are creating something that has social and artistic importance, then the market should not be a factor in your decision making. However, if millions of viewers want to see a Gilmore Girls reunion where we finally get to see Loralei and Luke’s wedding and find out how sweet Rory’s life turned out, then you should give the people what they want.

If there are loose ends in the story, why not complete the story?

3. I think people tend to compartmentalize reboots of material. Kind of like how people talk about Doctor Who, we can sort between the different seasons or eras of the thing and discuss them separately. The subsequent productions would not tarnish the original because people will be able to dispose of the new, less beloved thing.

The question asks if too much nostalgia is a bad thing. I think the point up for argument is how much is too much? We can all agree that if you are clinging desperately to the 80s with a flock of seagulls hairdo and your only source of entertainment are the Brat Pack movies, you need to cool out on the nostalgia. You need to be anchored in current culture and seek out new and interesting ideas.

But, we can’t be strictly innovative and avant-garde. We should all take a page from Taylor Swift who looked back to the past (1989) to inspire her future music.

Boom Roasted,

Megan

Kalan Kucera <[email protected]>

To Megan:

That is a really good reading of it. Also, not only too much, but how well is the follow up executed.

I just saw the new Homestar Runner cartoon for Record Shop Day, a flash cartoon from the early 2000s that I am hopelessly nostalgic for, and I loved it. The fact that I caught myself in the throes of nostalgia, combined with you’re excellent points, makes me think that I might agree with you. It’s not all too bad.

Just because some people phone it in and make a shameless money grab, doesn’t mean that all nostalgia is bad. In fact, some of it services the fans while still proving to be new and unique stories.

In that light, we should list something. If you were going to pick the best and worst 3 pieces of nostalgia, what would yours be?

Megan Suttles <[email protected]>

To Kalan: 

I might have over-achieved a little, but here are the ten things nostalgia haters aren’t allowed to enjoy:

1. The Rabbit wallpaper in Michelle’s room on Full House
2. The name Topanga
3. The lifelong dream of the possibility of your family being on Double Dare
4. Holding up a Cat/Baby/Anything and singing “The Circle of Life.”
5. The best line from a movie, ever: “Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof.”
6. Finishing this phrase: “Camp Anawanna, we hold you in hearts, and when we think about you, it makes me wanna, _ _ _ _!”
7. Doug Funnie’s perfectly named pup, Porkchop
8. The scene from The Goofy Movie, where the Bigfoot dances to “Stayin Alive”
9. Hocus Pocus marathons during Halloween and A Christmas Story during the holidays
10. Sunsets….just because.

Who can argue with that!?

 

Article written by Megan Suttles

I can't decide if I want to use this space to be witty or insightful. I guess it will be neither.