I don’t know if all of you are aware but nostalgia has become a dirty word for some in discussing media. Recently I reviewed Fuller House on my youtube channel and the response was positive to my video; however, on a forum I noticed phrases like ‘only idiots drinking the nostalgia koolaid would like this’. This type of accusation really annoys me.
So let’s talk about nostalgia. The dictionary defines nostalgia as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”. So in other words it’s looking at something from our past and remembering it in a positive, happy way. I get nostalgia for lots of things. For example, whenever I drive past my old house in American Fork that I lived in with Camille and Megan I feel very nostalgic. Whenever I go to BYU I remember all the good times I had there and it causes me to feel good- nostalgia.
Now granted these feelings are by nature stilted. We remember either the bad or the good in the most vivid colors, and we may magnify those emotions with the passing of time. So something that was sad becomes devastating. Something that was happy becomes perfection. We all do it. It’s part of being human.
I guess where I get annoyed is the exaggeration brought on by nostalgia is only part of that memory. I loved going to BYU, and just because I remember it with probably too much nostalgia doesn’t mean it wasn’t a genuinely wonderful time in my life. I feel like people who say ‘you only like it because of nostalgia’ are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Nostalgia is part of the experience but there are really things I liked about it.
Nostalgia being part of an experience is not a reason to devalue said experience. If I love a movie because it reminds me of my Grandpa that doesn’t mean my other reasons for liking it are somehow less valuable because of a personal connection. Am I supposed to separate myself from all my life experience when viewing art and give some kind of robot review?
Recently I saw a critic on youtube eviscerate Star Wars Force Awakens and of course she accused all of us who liked it of being ‘blinded by nostalgia’. I’m sorry but that is just not true. Was nostalgia a part? Probably but it also had a villain who was a true apprentice, it had a female hero who is discovering who she is, it had BB8 who was adorable, it had awesome light saber fights, it had a storm trooper rebelling. All of that was great! And yet I feel like this critic would discount everything I just said and accuse me of only being nostalgic. That irritates me.
Now make no mistake there are definitely things I like for nostalgia purposes that I know are crap. And you know what I own to that. I know The Cutting Edge is not a great movie. I get that, but I watched it with my friends in high school and it brings back good memories. What’s wrong with that? I don’t expect you to have the same attachment to it and fully admit it isn’t a great movie. And it’s not like I would give it an A+ just because I love it for nostalgia. I would probably give it a C+ because that’s what it deserves, even though I love it.
I guess I just feel like the nostalgia accusation is a cheap way to discount what someone says. I’ve had people claim I was nostalgic about Star Wars, Little Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, The Muppets, the list goes on. These are all things I genuinely love and can give you reasons. I guess there is a little bit of nostalgia but that’s way down the list of why I enjoy those properties, and yet it is used as a reason to throw away my opinion? That frustrates me!
I’ve even had people accuse me of nostalgia for things I didn’t like as a child. I was not interested in fantasy or superheroes at all growing up. And yet when I enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron or other films people claim it is nostalgia. It’s not. I just liked it!
And I am not immune from the nostalgia accusation. Just the other day I was talking to someone about the Care Bears movies and they were saying how people they knew LOVED them. My response was ‘it must just be nostalgia because they aren’t that great’. And then I stopped myself and realized I was doing the very thing that drives me crazy. Maybe they have perfectly good reasons liking Care Bears? Or maybe it is nostalgia and what’s wrong with that?
I guess I just feel like nearly every time I’m accused of nostalgia it’s actually not the case. I like what I like and I try to give as good an explanation as I can. If nostalgia is part of that experience I will own to it, even celebrate it. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and if we like something because it reminds us of our life that is great. I just don’t like being accused of it when it isn’t true. It makes me seem less objective than others who are ‘untainted by nostalgia’.
What do you guys think? Can you relate to what I am saying? What’s your view on nostalgia? What’s something you enjoy but you know it is mostly for nostalgia sake?