About a month ago, I was at the gym shaking my butt, shimmying and body rolling in my Zumba class (as I do). Between songs, I was having a breathless conversation with another Zumba friend who I hadn’t seen at class in a while.
“How was your birthday?” she asked as we gulped down water.
“It was great,” I said, dabbing my sweaty neck and forehead. It was an exercise in futility - I was just going to continue sweating until my shirt darkened to a different shade of blue.
“How old did you turn?”
“Twenty seven,” I responded. “I’m an old man now,” I added jokingly.
“WHAT? You’re TWENTY SEVEN??” she exclaimed. “You look really good!”
Before I had time to say anything, the next song started again and I willed my old bones to fall in to rhythm and dance.
It wasn’t until later that I thought about what she had said. I look good for twenty seven? I mean, thanks? But, but, my brain screamed at her as I replayed our interaction again in my mind, twenty seven isn’t old!
I know that she was just being nice. She’s only twenty herself, after all. The chasm of difference between how I was when I was twenty and who I am now is staggering. But this encounter brought to light a fact that a lot of people don’t like to really think about: I’m getting old(er).
It’s not that big of a deal, really. Not the kind of life-altering epiphany that will cause me to run out and buy a motorcycle or a sports car or a boat. Lately, though, I’ve been noticing things that really emphasize the fact that myself and my peers are becoming those people.
The other day, I was in the supermarket with my mother and ‘Better Off Alone’ by Alice Deejay came on over the loudspeakers.
“Oh mannn!” I exclaimed as I began dancing behind the cart I was pushing. “This is a CHOON!”
My mom laughed and said, “Someone told me once: ‘You know you’re getting old when you think the supermarket plays good music’.”
I waved her off and continued playing the iconic synth progression on the handle of the cart – daa daa daa daa daadaa daa DAA DAA daa daa.
But it isn’t just the supermarkets that are playing good songs, it seems. As I continue to go out to bars and other places where people (roughly) my age gather, I notice this trend of playing 90s jams. Last night at bar trivia, we were serenaded by one-hit wonders and other awesome tunes from the 90s. Songs that evoke fond memories.
Speaking of music that speaks to fond memories I have, I’ve recently fallen in love with the very talented Canadian singer-songwriter Kiesza – specifically her song Giant in my Heart. The song has SO MUCH GOODNESS in it and transports me through a nostalgic tunnel of love. I think that, although her 90s-esque sound can be seen as a gimmick, it’s well-done enough to where it works: evoking a warm, tingly feeling in my heart.
What doesn’t leave a tingly feeling in my heart, though, are the tactics that advertisers seem to be using these days. They are clearly catering to my age group by using the powers of nostalgia. This can be seen in the entertainment industry, especially.
In the following years, we are going to see reboots of SO MANY 90s classics: a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, a live-action JEM and the Holograms movie, a new Jurassic Park movie and maybe even a Captain Planet movie.
Old TV shows are also being rebooted like nobody’s business: Netflix is bringing back The Magic Schoolbus. LeVar Burton succesfully completed a record-setting kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow back. The Powerpuff Girls will be back on Cartoon Network in 2016. And the Disney Channel recently premiered Girl Meets World – a spin-off that takes place fourteen years after Boy Meets World ended.
All of these things seem to happening around the same time and I don’t think it’s coincidental. Call me crazy…but it’s almost as if companies have figured out that nostalgia is a quick way to cash in on something without actually making an effort to produce a quality product!
I get it, my generation is growing up. We’re still at that age where we’re young enough to remember how great certain things from our childhood were and get excited about them. But it seems like the collective excitement and novelty of something from our heyday takes precedent over whether or not a shiny new reboot is actually any good.
My good friend wrote a fantastic piece on the Sailor Moon reboot and nostalgia that I highly recommend! In it, she discusses how nostalgia can cloud our vision and hinder our critical perception of something. “Because nostalgia inflates the inherent value of something within our mind, it also inflates its importance to us.” she writes. “Our loving of something like Sailor Moon, something that we discovered in the heady and idealized days of our youth, ties it intrinsically to our very selves.”
It seems that Girl Meets World isn’t living up to the expectations of fans of the original series. As Kevin Fallon writes in his post Boy Meets World Fans Will Hate Girl Meets World. “…the series Disney Channel made isn’t for [us]. Instead, and logically, it’s for the Disney Channel audience, a group as young as we were when we first watched Boy Meets World and who may not even have any idea what Boy Meets World is.”
So what are we to do? This trend of catering to a new generation of adults is most likely only going to continue. It’s just like the generation before us being marketed things that were flashbacks from the 1980s.
By not giving in to the obvious ploy of appealing to us in that way, we can better critically receive new shows, TV etc. If ad agencies and studios see that endlessly remaking things that appeal to our nostalgic sides isn’t working, maybe they’ll focus on creating quality original content.
I think we can all agree that it’s something we need more of.
What do you think? Is this something you’ve noticed as well? Do you think this kind of thing just happens naturally as different generations grow up? Is it smart marketing or just lazy? Are you excited about any of the planned reboots? Upset about any?