Remember when you were a kid and you did, you know, stuff? Hold on to that. Hold on to the act of remembering, because we're killing it as surely as E! is killing the definition of entertainment. Modern technology, as awesome as it is, also hates your sense of nostalgia and is circle booting it in a field like so many unreliable copy machines.
"But Ian," you begin, unbuttoning your blouse, "I remember all kinds of things from my childhood!" And sure you do. Now. Sure, there are lots of relics of bygone eras and past awesomeness. But one day there just won't be a point behind it anymore. Keep unbuttoning and I'll explain.
Remember not so long ago when you'd hear a song in a commercial, or maybe it'd pop up at random on the radio, and you'd nearly shit yourself because you loved that song when you were 12 and haven't heard it since then? That was an awesome feeling. Maybe likening it to shitting yourself is wrong. I need to stop doing that in my writing. It's more like when you got to have pizza on your birthday instead of the undercooked pork chops and creamed corn still in a can your mom gave you every other day of the year when a different uncle was visiting for an hour.
When's the last time that happened to you with a song, and how old was the song? Yeah. Back in 1986, a one-hit wonder really was a one-hit wonder. Now a one-hit wonder is a ring tone and song No. 67 on your most played list. Is there any conceivable way Soulja Boy would have had anything bordering on a career in the music industry before iTunes existed? Did you know he still exists? He still exists!
You will never again fully enjoy that feeling of hearing a song that you really love but haven't heard in forever, because if you really love it, you'll just download it. If an artist in the '80s released a shitty album with one good song, then screw that guy. That's right, Rockwell, there's a reason no one cares about you. You could literally go a decade before hearing that tune again. Now you can just pick that one single and have it forever. And if you do have any appreciation for music, you're slowly cannibalizing your own sense of musical nostalgia by downloading Journey and Sir-Mix-A-Lot because they're kitschy and fun, and you'll never have that same sense of wonder when you hear "Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt" ever again.
Ever watch Antiques Roadshow? What a total mindfuck. People who look like your dad on a bender stumble into a community center in Fudgeshuffle Township with a quilt that looks like it was pulled from a goat's ass and a dude in a handlebar mustache takes 20 minutes to explain that it was the swaddling blanket of the czarina and is worth $30,000, isn't that interesting?
Antiques Roadshow is itself on the road to being an antique by virtue of the fact that we're just about out of antiques. Stuff from the '60s and maybe even the '70s is going to maybe qualify, but then what? Will your collection of Ninja Turtles action figures ever really be antiques or collectibles? What about the wall sconces you bought from Pier 1? Or the gravy boat that was made in China that you got from Target? Will that be an antique in 100 years? Fuck no! Because everyone in the townhouse complex where you buy your weed has the same one -- it's in the cupboard next to their collectible Star Wars: Episode I cups from Taco Bell.
We don't make antiques anymore, as much of a paradox as that is. Stuff is not built to last and horribly mass produced, or else it was built specifically to be collectible, like special variant action figures and limited edition leather-scented dildos, and everyone knows it's a collectible so it gets bought up the first day it's on the market, kind of killing its collectibility.
In 50 years, the odds of a single Wizards of Waverly Place action figure still existing are slim to none. Also, do they make Wizards of Waverly Place action figures? Because if they do, that means there's some middle-aged man out there who has a whole collection of Selena Gomez figures in his house, and that's never not creepy. And if they do hold up over that much time, no one will want them, because of the 100 other middle-aged men who also have dozens of them mint in the box. Creepy old fucks.
I was tempted to link this with music, but I feel it's a different ball of wax with TV and film than with the Empee Threes you kids seem to love. TV and movie nostalgia has been killed in a whole different way that's more painful than what we've done with music, because while we're just sort of destroying the spirit of song, we're actively holding its mouth open and "Two Girl, One Cupping" it with the visual arts. To demonstrate this point, I offer you Michael Bay.
I've ragged on Michael Bay as much as anyone, and I get that he's just doing what he's good at (and, if we're being fair, the man really is good at it). Not good in the sense of "Good for you, you didn't poop yourself today," but in the sense that this was well done. Michael Bay makes good Michael Bay movies, and numbers indicate that a ton of people want to see those. I paid to see each and every Transformers movie. I made fun of them and stared, dumbfounded, during some scenes, but that's actually why I paid to see them. I own half of Uwe Boll's film catalog for the same reason. I really like to not like movies, it's sick.
Ziss is vhere ze Seanbaby lives! I punch at him vith mine fist!
The issue with Michael Bay and the Hollywood nostalgia-humping machine is embodied in Transformers, and the rumors you've heard about Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You heard those, right? That instead of mutants they might be aliens? True or not, it hurt you. But why did it hurt you? Why so many hyperbolic "Thanks for destroying my childhood" criticisms? You wanted to hold the memory of what was in your head, but at the same time you wanted to see it get rebooted or adapted to film or remade or sequelized or whatever. And then it wasn't exactly what you remembered, and it never will be, but it won't go away either. Worse, when you see a trailer for G.I. Joe 2, you're forced to try to deny that you liked G.I. Joe ever, because obviously that movie looks worse than Hitler AIDS. Can a two-hour piece of film that you don't even ever have to watch be worse than a disease that kills millions and hates people based on their ethnicity? Obviously, or people wouldn't say it. That's how bad some of these movies are.
So every time Fright Night gets remade with Colin Farrell, or Biker Mice from Mars gets adapted into a musical by Joel Schumacher starring Kristen Stewart, you're going to feel cheated and menaced retroactively. You feel like Roland Emmerich took a time machine back to your childhood and sat behind you taking notes until he felt a stomach cramp, then he crapped right in your brain and shook you to make sure it coated the walls, then went back to the present and laughed about it while he pleasured himself with your toothbrush on a mound of money he got from everyone else who didn't care.
Eventually, every movie or show you remember liking as a kid will get this treatment, and inevitably most people will be unhappy with at least some of them, because that seems to be how we all react when someone meddles with our memories. And for everything else, there are DVD box sets and digital downloads, so you never have to be wistful for anything ever again, because it will never, ever go away.