Saturday, August 23, 2014

Not-Pining For The '90s

When I first read James Wolcott's sniffy disdain for '90s Nostalgia a couple of weeks ago, I thought, This is a put-on. There is no “'90s Nostalgia.'” Then, right on cue, The Onion AV Club launched their '90s Nostalgia series.

Back when I was living out the '90s, I wondered if it wasn't the decade I'd be nostalgic for. I was getting my adult feet under me, and wearing a decidedly youthful bod (and mane of hair). Thanks to WIRED magazine, I finally discovered the internet. Rock music was still cool. So were the Simpsons.

Get a haircut, ya bum.

Oof. Good riddance to all that — yes, even the body. All that youthful energy, directed into youthful anxiety, and youthful aggression, and youthful expressions of a self best left to percolate and age into something just a tad wiser — and kinder — before expressing anything.

No, I'll happily (for the most part) wear the extra flab as the softer self that I sometimes wish had been more present in the '90s. The concern being, of course, how best to be present in the here and now — which I'm already nostalgic for.


Joel said...

Since reading this, I have been thinking about my own feelings, and trying to ask myself if I have any nostalgia for the 90s.
I think I do, but not in the way the decade is usually celebrated in the AVclub and other pop culture.

When I see all the nostalgia for Saved by the Bell, or for 1990s music, it just gives me a headache really. It reminds me of all the boring afternoons wasted in front of a TV. (Really, who feels nostalgia for Saved by the Bell? I'm not saying that show was bad, but it was always just a pleasant waste of time at best, and it was meant to be just a pleasant waste of time.) It's the same thing for the 1980s. There are a few things from the 1980s I feel nostalgic for, but vast majority of it, particularly the vast majority of the pop culture, just reminds me of wasting time.
The only decades I really feel nostalgic for are the ones I didn't live through, because it's possible to romanticize the 60s, 50s, 40s, et cetera, if you don't have the actual mundane memories of having lived through them.

That being said, there are a number of things that I do have nostalgia for. I was a lot easier to impress as a child, and there are all sorts of movies I saw in the 1980s that gave me emotions that movies aren't capable of giving me anymore. In the 1990s, I was a bit older, and I wasn't blown away by simple movies anymore, but I was still easily (or more easily) impressed by literature and music than I do now. I still have a lot of nostalgia for those moments. But half of that stuff wasn't even from the particular decade I experienced it in. (Many of the movies I remember strongly from childhood actually predate me by a few decades--the Disney classics, for example.)

Darrell Reimer said...

Yeah, impressionability definitely starts to stiffen with age. I was recently nudged to revisit this post. It's only five years old, but I'm already wondering if I'd still include quite so many "youthful" books. But those are the ones we don't forget, even if (in the case of Kerouac) we're unlikely to ever reach for them again.