Editorial: The nostalgia effect slowing new ideas


Photo courtesy of MCT Campus


By Tyler Boydston

A recent advertisement that premiered on YouTube featured Matthew Broderick in the style of his character from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The ad pulled in over four million views in its first four days. The video, which was only 10 seconds long, was a teaser for an even longer ad that premiered the following Monday and featured many nods to the 1986 film that it was based on.

While, admittedly, I loved the video, it made me realize that the overwhelming love of nostalgia that we have as a culture is getting out of hand.

One of pop culture’s more recent trends, I’ve noticed, is the use of name recognition and nostalgia to bring in viewers. A string of commercially successful films that are either sequels or remakes brings about the question of originality in Hollywood. Several movie series that have long since died have been brought back with sequels featuring an aging cast, many of them making more than their budgets back.

While I am not saying that all of these movies are bad by any means – though some of them are particularly painful to watch – I am beginning to wonder just how we have found ourselves continually looking back to the past instead of looking forward in terms of new stories. It scares me that originality seems to be dying as more sequels, prequels, adaptations, re-boots and remakes are being made each year.

Why is it that we find so many of these being made, though? It’s really quite a simple answer: we keep spending money on them. According to boxofficemojo.com, nearly all of the top ten highest-grossing films domestically in 2011 was a sequel; the sole exception to the sequel dominion was “The Smurfs,” an adaptation of the cartoon from the 1980s, proving yet again that nostalgia sells.

Perhaps the saddest thing about nostalgia is that some members of my generation – myself included – have an undeserved sense of nostalgia about things that have happened within the past year. Shows like VH1’s “I Love the 90s” and “Best Week Ever” have presented us with nostalgic looks back at events from previous decades and weeks, fueling the fires of nostalgia that some of us already have.

Nostalgia does not only pertain to films, though, as it can also revolve around someone looking back at his or her life events.

Other things that may have added to that nostalgia factor are the extra events being tacked on to high school graduations. The week before I graduated high school in 2009, we had an event featuring baby pictures and a look back at years gone by. In general, though, several of the students took the last week or two to reflect on the entirety of their public school careers.

What is the problem with all of this, though?  After all, nostalgia in small doses can be a good thing. It can be a reminder of good times and it can bring a smile to someone’s face; the downside to nostalgia, though, is that it can make things a lot worse without moderation.

When people focus solely on the past, then they have no time to look forward to their futures. This, in turn, presents a larger problem. When we are spend all of our time looking back, when do we get a chance to live in the moment of the present? When do we enjoy the time that we have? When do we strive toward the goals of our future? Do we even have goals to strive for?

That said, I urge those who read this to start focusing more on the future. Though we can learn lessons from our past, I urge you to not spend too much time dwelling on the past and to instead live in the moment. Enjoy the present. Stop talking about how much the “Star Wars” prequels ruined your childhood. Stop talking about how much better your life was in high school and start to realize how good your life is now. Stop worrying about comparing everything to the past and start living in the here and now.

Of course, I’m currently typing this and re-watching the “Ferris Bueller” ad on YouTube for probably the eighth time in an hour, so I may need to practice taking my own advice and not be so nostalgic.

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