5 Ways the Modern World Is Killing Nostalgia
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.
Antiques and Collectibles
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.
TV and Film
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.
I'm going to start this one by pointing out that "saling" is not a word. It never was, and I get it, but cut it the hell out. Don't say it. If you go garage saling, it means everyone around you is involuntarily assholing until you leave. Asshole.
Now that that's out of the way, any disgusting, bed buggy thrill you may have once gotten from going to a garage sale is as dead as disco. You can't pop down the street to see what crap Old Man Witherspoon has for sale and get an Action Comics No. 1 for 25 cents, because that cheapskate old prick Googled it the night before and he's selling it for $500,000 now. Do you have that kind of money to spend at a garage sale on a comic that smells like mothballs and old man balls? No you don't.
Thanks to shows like Storage Wars and Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars and a dozen others, everyone knows that their crud is worth something. And worse, all the shit they have that's worth nothing, they still think it's worth something, so you're never going to get a good deal ever again.
This, in turn, basically means that if and when you ever see a garage sale again, it's like finding the corpse of your childhood pet propped up on a table next to a sign that says "Pet Stinky $0.25." It'll never have that same feeling it did back when no one knew or cared what shit they had; they just wanted it out of their house, but didn't have the stomach to just garbage it like they did with grandpa. Now when you go by garage sales, people are selling pop and snacks alongside their shitty DVDs that cost $10 apiece. No one is paying $10 for your garage sale DVD, Mr. Thompson. It's Double Dragon, and there aren't even any special features. It's useless!
The hidden wonders of a stranger's home are now gone, only to be found by the cam you installed in the neighbor's duct work when they went shopping and foolishly locked the door with a barely functional lock, practically asking you to come in and pleasure yourself with their butter. And it's never coming back. The hidden wonders, I mean. Do whatever the hell you like to the neighbor's butter.
As an abnormal child with too much time on my hands, I always got a deranged thrill from getting mail. You never need mail when you're a kid, and you rarely got good mail, except for the odd birthday card with a couple bucks stuck in it, but it was nice to know Ed McMahon might be willing to give you $10 million if you'd just subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens. And did you notice that Playboy stamp that was always on the list of magazines you could subscribe to? I used to take that one and keep it in my room. Mrrrrow.
So anyway, the Internet fucked all that.
You probably still get mail -- we all do -- but how much is from actual people? How often do you send mail? Do you know what a stamp costs these days? The post office really took it on the chin when people found out they could send messages instantly on their typey boxes. They were still reeling from what the telephone did to their business. And on the surface, maybe it's not so awful that email exists, but think of what we lost in the trade for instant communication. I can't speak for anyone else, but the only time I'm excited to see a new email is when I suspect there's boobs in it. And let me tell you, there's pretty much never boobs in it. I had a friend in college who used to send me pics of girls with penises all the time, but that never really felt the same to me.
Worse than lack of boobs, and by that I mean not worse but still sad, is how we communicate. Did you learn how to write letters in school? Proper formatting and all that jazz? There's kind of an art to letter writing. Email is basically what happens if you aggressively teabag your keyboard a bunch of times. Of the first 10 emails in my inbox, only two even include an actual greeting, and one is "Hey fuckwad."
We've lost the art of communicating with people, and that sort of indefinable feeling you get by actually holding a letter in your hand, smelling the paper, having the brief thrill of opening it up to see what's inside. We traded it for boob jpegs. Boob jpegs that never show up. I've had the same email address since 2005, man.
Check out more from Ian in The 5 Most Ridiculously Awful Computers Ever Made and 7 Bizarre Things (And 1 Bodily Fluid) People Use as Money.