Is it Nostalgia, or Is it Memorex?

Ohmigod, a retro party! Photo from Flickr member PrincessAshley.

Ohmigod, a retro party! Photo from Flickr member PrincessAshley.

I’ve been seeing a lot about ideas of retro and nostalgia in the news lately, and a couple of them click together realy nicely. In The New York Times, there’s a rather poignant piece about the (probably) impending 1990’s nostalgia, now that we GenXers are hitting our 40’s. A lot of talk about doing it wrong, documenting things incorrectly the first time around, and whitewashing the past.

Conversely, here’s another very interesting piece at the Atlantic which looks at a book called Retromania. The book wonders aloud about the ‘net’s position in nostalgia—if we can actually have a sense of nostalgia considering the color copy of the past we can now pull forth from YouTube. It ask wonders if nostalgia is, well, normal. Or healthy, even.

I think the piece has some points—when the generation just older than mine reinvented the 1950s and 1960’s during the 1980’s, the result was a hazy recollection. It was mixed up with punk, with new wave—it gave them the first version of Madonna’s iconic image, with her second-hand petticoats and biker jackets layered over an asymmetrical perm. Fast forward to the 2000’s revisiting of the eighties, and we got a strangely accurate portrayal of the most widely-photographed looks and images. Moustaches, Ray-Bans, neon colors, and sideways hair—but not much really filtered to be new. Was it because there were so many more images of the eighties to copy from than previous decades? Food for thought.

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