A Brief Look into the Latest Cultural Repackaging
August 22 2016

“All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.” 

           – Watchmen

The 90's are back, or so I hear. 

25 year-olds are wandering parks, face in phone as if it was a see-through Game Boy Color, catching the little pocket monsters of their childhood nostalgia that now appear right on the sidewalk before them. MTV has just announced their MTV Classics channel, perfect for all of us dying to watch Beavis and Butt-Head reruns, or that epic stop-action battle of the clay-formed Mansons (Charlie and Marilyn) on the always delightfully numbing and gory Celebrity Death Match. I heard 98 Degrees is touring. It will only be a matter of time before Surge is back on the shelves of your local mart, The WB back on your Saturday morning programming, and Jellies (blisters and all) back on your feet. Maybe, a Kurt Cobain performing hologram? (Please God, no!) Hey, we may even have another Clinton in office come November.

Ludic musings aside, I find it incredibly interesting to watch the waves of repackaged culture once again sweep through the landings of our feverish, yet fickle minds. It's really nothing new, pertains to no specific decade, and some of it is actually pretty easy to trace back down to patient zero. Mad Men brought back the glory of the classic, 19th century Old Fashioned from the sordid depths of muddled orange slices and maraschino cherries in which it lay, and for that I am glad. Jack White has helped revitalized the vinyl record, and arguably, tangible music media as well. David Beckham's undercut bore a generation of imitations, each, perhaps unbeknownst to them at the time, trying to capture the effortless suave of the poor, working class kid of the early 20th century.

Some of it, however, is a little hazy, ill-defined. Some of it is manipulative and empty, a ploy to capitalize on the zeitgeist of the month, without any intention of having a genuine care, an authentic interest in what is being produced (MTV, this one is for you). Some of it is the general backbone and political platform on which non-incumbent candidates are campaigning, the belief that there was once a golden age, and we're going to bring that back. We must be careful. Hindsight is 20/20 and often seen through rose-colored glasses. 

I find it interesting what we glorify in our nostalgia-ridden minds, and what we bring back from the grave to breathe new life into. All we are, presently, is a myriad of everything we've ever been – that is true, and that is truly wonderful, but it seems, to me at least, that we don't even want to be this present 2016-self anymore. We'd rather pretend to be anyone else. If we could wake up tomorrow and it could be 1994, we'd take it. Or 1984. Then things would be great again, wouldn't they? 

Hey, maybe someone will make reading an actual book cool again. Stranger things are happening. 

 

Blake Jon Mycal Smith

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