Hollywood's Nostalgia Bug Is NOT a Bad Thing Hollywood's Nostalgia Bug Is NOT a Bad Thing

18 Mar , 2019

HOLLYWOOD IS A NOSTALGIA FACTORY BUT I LOVE IT

When I use the word “nostalgia”, here’s what I’m talking about: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past” (thanks, Google). The complaints and dislike for all of the reboots and remakes as of late are totally justified. It feels disingenuous and unoriginal for every other movie trailer to be a slightly more colorful version of something we’ve already seen. This makes Hollywood feel like a factory—churning and re-churning out content that paid off once and will surely pay off twice.

Don Draper from Mad Men says it best “Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent.” To marry that feeling with the movies is an incredibly powerful tool, and it almost feels wrong to commodify it.

Hear me out, though: I. Love. It.

THIS ISN’T NEW

I know it feels like nostalgia is the name of the game lately in Hollywood, but let me assure you, nostalgia has been around forever in filmmaking.

One of my favorite things about movies is the escapism of them. I love going to a movie theater and settling into a chair comfier than anything I own and losing myself in the story. I don’t think anything can take my mind off of my problems like a good movie can, and I’m positive audiences have craved the same reprieve from the grind of daily life.

In fact, we can trace the nostalgia bug alllll the way back to the 1940s, when people were dealing with the worldwide effects of World War II, and as a result of being so sick of reality, they started making films like Meet Me in St Louis, a technicolor musical set in 1904, to remind themselves of carefree pre-war life. We can see nostalgia again in the 1980s when we made Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Indiana Jones fights the Nazis, and in Back to the Future in which Marty McFly goes back to the 1950s. Captain Marvel has started to break this mold, but the nostalgia of the 2010s so far has been for the 1980s (Stranger Things, Ready Player One, Guardians of the Galaxy).

Nostalgia and filmmaking are best friends, and I think the explanation for why the two are a match made in heaven is multifaceted, but part of it is that kids grow up and make films that remind them of their childhoods, or, in other words, of times that they’ve deemed happier and simpler.  

HERE’S WHY I LOVE IT

With reboots and revamps being all the rage right now, the plea for original content is growing even strong. I feel you, I do, but I think there’s a place in the entertainment world for nostalgic content. There’s not a whole lot of feelings that compare to what I felt when I watched the recently released Aladdin trailer, and it was actually good. If movies can serve as a form of escape, there’s no stronger escapism than Disney’s live-action remakes of their classics.

Nostalgic love is more subtle in its Guardians of the Galaxy version- the movie soundtrack boasts iconic songs from the 1970s, and it’s just impossible to watch that movie without also enjoying the music. The nostalgia factor of just the music is effective on its own. In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy is the only Marvel movie my parents bothered to see in theaters, and it’s because they felt a bond with the movie when they heard “Hooked on a Feeling” in the trailer.

Movies and TV shows that use cultural references and easter eggs to evoke nostalgia are plentiful in recent years: Ready Player One is set in the future even, but the film’s characters harbor such nostalgia that the movie is stuffed with 80s references. Even Netflix’s Stranger Things is a blast back to the 1980s, and it works. I’m not an 80s kid, but I get completely sucked into that world.
I know that nostalgia in these movies is a manufactured feeling, but it works so well that I can’t argue with it. 

If movies and TV shows are our best bet to escape the stress of reality (and I think that they are), I fully support the parade of nostalgia. The feeling is so effective in storytelling and worldbuilding that I don’t even need a personal frame of reference to be swept away to a world of the 1980s or the 1960s, even (I’m looking at you, Mad Men). It’s as much a creative feat to rebuild a world as it is to build it.

These are still stories that really mean something, and that’s all I ask for.

HOLLYWOOD IS A NOSTALGIA FACTORY BUT I LOVE IT

When I use the word “nostalgia”, here’s what I’m talking about: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past” (thanks, Google). The complaints and dislike for all of the reboots and remakes as of late are totally justified. It feels disingenuous and unoriginal for every other movie trailer to be a slightly more colorful version of something we’ve already seen. This makes Hollywood feel like a factory—churning and re-churning out content that paid off once and will surely pay off twice.

Don Draper from Mad Men says it best “Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent.” To marry that feeling with the movies is an incredibly powerful tool, and it almost feels wrong to commodify it.

Hear me out, though: I. Love. It.

THIS ISN’T NEW

I know it feels like nostalgia is the name of the game lately in Hollywood, but let me assure you, nostalgia has been around forever in filmmaking.

One of my favorite things about movies is the escapism of them. I love going to a movie theater and settling into a chair comfier than anything I own and losing myself in the story. I don’t think anything can take my mind off of my problems like a good movie can, and I’m positive audiences have craved the same reprieve from the grind of daily life.

In fact, we can trace the nostalgia bug alllll the way back to the 1940s, when people were dealing with the worldwide effects of World War II, and as a result of being so sick of reality, they started making films like Meet Me in St Louis, a technicolor musical set in 1904, to remind themselves of carefree pre-war life. We can see nostalgia again in the 1980s when we made Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Indiana Jones fights the Nazis, and in Back to the Future in which Marty McFly goes back to the 1950s. Captain Marvel has started to break this mold, but the nostalgia of the 2010s so far has been for the 1980s (Stranger Things, Ready Player One, Guardians of the Galaxy).

Nostalgia and filmmaking are best friends, and I think the explanation for why the two are a match made in heaven is multifaceted, but part of it is that kids grow up and make films that remind them of their childhoods, or, in other words, of times that they’ve deemed happier and simpler.  

HERE’S WHY I LOVE IT

With reboots and revamps being all the rage right now, the plea for original content is growing even strong. I feel you, I do, but I think there’s a place in the entertainment world for nostalgic content. There’s not a whole lot of feelings that compare to what I felt when I watched the recently released Aladdin trailer, and it was actually good. If movies can serve as a form of escape, there’s no stronger escapism than Disney’s live-action remakes of their classics.

Nostalgic love is more subtle in its Guardians of the Galaxy version- the movie soundtrack boasts iconic songs from the 1970s, and it’s just impossible to watch that movie without also enjoying the music. The nostalgia factor of just the music is effective on its own. In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy is the only Marvel movie my parents bothered to see in theaters, and it’s because they felt a bond with the movie when they heard “Hooked on a Feeling” in the trailer.

Movies and TV shows that use cultural references and easter eggs to evoke nostalgia are plentiful in recent years: Ready Player One is set in the future even, but the film’s characters harbor such nostalgia that the movie is stuffed with 80s references. Even Netflix’s Stranger Things is a blast back to the 1980s, and it works. I’m not an 80s kid, but I get completely sucked into that world.
I know that nostalgia in these movies is a manufactured feeling, but it works so well that I can’t argue with it. 

If movies and TV shows are our best bet to escape the stress of reality (and I think that they are), I fully support the parade of nostalgia. The feeling is so effective in storytelling and worldbuilding that I don’t even need a personal frame of reference to be swept away to a world of the 1980s or the 1960s, even (I’m looking at you, Mad Men). It’s as much a creative feat to rebuild a world as it is to build it.

These are still stories that really mean something, and that’s all I ask for.

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