Friday, December 17th, 2010
83

False Nostalgia: How VH1 Ruined the Taste of a Generation

In the period between when VH1 stopped airing music videos but before they became the home for such quality infotainment as "Glam God with Vivica A. Fox" and "Celebrity Fit Club," they were best-known for two series: "Behind the Music" and "I Love the 80s," and that show's light-history spawn.

On December 16, 2002, VH1 aired the first segment: "I Love 1980." This American interpretation of the BBC show (which itself started with "I Love the 70s"), had segments on Airplane!, The Empire Strikes Back (isn’t it weird that those two films came out in the same year?), “Rapper’s Delight,” and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, among other pop culture semi-relics. There were also recurring segments where celebrities like Bret Michaels and Lionel Richie would present “Babes” and “Makeout Songs” of each year. It was genius and a huge hit for a network desperate for one.

Repeats of the 80s series aired constantly. Soon they backtracked to the 70s, then the 80s struck back, then the 90s came, and so on. It was also a huge hit in my household, particularly during those dreaded post-dinner hours when it wasn’t baseball season and "Seinfeld" wasn’t on.

Before long, I was picking up factoids I wouldn’t have otherwise known about "Square Pegs" and Rob Lowe’s sex tape, thanks to the not-at-all prepared, supposedly off-the-cuff remarks made by Hal Sparks, Michael Ian Black, Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, that blonde woman with the glasses and other semi-celebrities.

Wikipedia was founded in 2001, but only grew to two-million articles by 2007, so, VH1, with both "I Love the Whatevers" and "Behind the Music," served in its stead. Those shows gave just enough information to its viewers that they could sound relatively intelligent in talking about pop culture without actually having seen, listened to or owned said culture product, particularly when it was new.

Which leads us to this weekend’s (highly anticipated!) release of the sequel to Tron. The original 1982 film made only $33 million in box office revenue during its initial run, a number that Porky’s, released in the same year, would best in about three-and-a-half weeks. It is therefore necessarily true that most people who talk about and who are in the intended audience of the Tron sequel haven’t actually seen the original, although among those, most would say it’s a mediocre film with outdated technology, and how it was a bust for Disney (which, granted, they’d be correct in stating). And it’s not like Tron is on the level of 8 ½; it’s not like anyone feels the need to go back and watch it. Who would be ashamed of himself for not seeing a mediocre film? But because all this information is around us, especially on the sort of channels where Katy Perry is currently the number one artist on their Top 20 countdown, it seems suggested that you should.

I was one of those people who hadn’t seen Tron until about five months ago. Even before watching the film, I had an opinion of it, with said opinion based somewhat on that "Simpsons" scene where Homer asks if anyone’s seen Tron and everyone replies no, but more so because of series like I Love the TK Decade.

The clip’s not on YouTube, but I have a feeling the Tron segment of "I Love the 80s" went something like: clip of the film, commentator describing the plot, more clips of the film, another commenter making fun of the Lightbike scene, visual evidence of what the commenter is talking about, then some joke about the film in general, or at least an ironic boast about its awesomeness. Rewatching I Love the TKs, there’s something about them that I didn’t catch when I was younger: the talking heads aren’t so much telling jokes as they are explaining the film/show/album/whatever, and then either singing or quoting from the material. There are virtually no jokes; the show is simply for people who say, “Hey, I remember that!” This is a value instilled in the production: during the interviews, for which comedians and the other randoms are booked back to back, the producers ask the talking heads to narrate and explain more than they ask them to riff.

I didn’t remember Tron, because I’d never seen it. But I felt like I did. Likewise, I spoke about ‘Til Tuesday as if I had heard “Voices Carry” constantly on the radio in 1985, which I did not. My friends do the same thing, for things for which they weren’t actually alive—and it’s not like we’re talking about the Beatles here, we're talking about MTV VJs and Pound Puppies. Our memories of things we couldn’t possibly remember were brought to us by VH1, and they’ve stuck.

That’s why a remake of Clash of the Titans exist, and why we’ll soon be (not) watching remakes of Dune and Conan and Escape from New York in our local theaters. (And Flash Gordon. And Highlander. And Arthur. And Barbarella. And Fletch. And Videodrome. And The Neverending Story. And Westworld. And even Porky's.) False nostalgia is easy to comprehend, and it’s an easy desire for people to capitalize on. Just because we know something doesn’t mean we’ll want to see it—or so we’d like to believe. The Karate Kid, The A-Team and The Expendables made $350 million, $176 million and $266 million at the box office this year. Both The A-Team and Karate Kid were featured on "I Love the 80s," as were vehicles for many of the actors that appeared in Stallone’s odd nostalgia-and-steroids fest.

VH1 was but the forefather: once we were trained, Google and Wikipedia and YouTube largely replaced it as a tool for the false nostalgia impulse. But VH1 was the first instance of being told that something in the near-past of pop culture was cool, or at least delightfully campy, and presented these relics in such a way that it was easy to quote and talk about with your friends, instead of actually discussing why Back to the Future was actually an important film. Everything became a giant in-joke that everyone was supposed to get.

Likewise, "Behind the Music" (begun in 1997) and "Pop-Up Video" (1996 to 2002): one gave an outline of an artist’s career in an hour or an hour-and-a-half and the other revealed not-particularly-meaningful-yet-oddly-compelling factoids about a particular artist and their song and music video. What was “Pop-Up Video” but a bit of Wikipedia in your YouTube, but on your TV?

False nostalgia means that The A-Team was a success at $176 million, but it also means false memory. It’s having sensations and ideas incepted in your brain that were never even yours. Millions of bored teens and tweens were told by their older, hipper peers that something was cool—but with no context, no experience, no value, no discernment, and the coolness was marked with irony. In the ironic embrace of VH1’s chat-bots, what was actually really quite bad was considered in the retelling to be cool. The recent past became nearer, even as it became flatter and context-free. A whole generation grew up with an utterly false nostalgia for culture products it had never consumed—and nobody even remembered that they hadn’t.


Josh Kurp thinks Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” is the greatest song of 1981, but only because Andrew Dice Clay told him so.

83 Comments / Post A Comment

anildash (#487)

I totally remember that! What kind of song has a chorus of "Stroke me, stroke me"? Right?

A whole generation grew up with an utterly false nostalgia for culture products it had never consumed—and nobody even remembered that they hadn’t.

OK, I get this. But isn't this just collateral damage that resulted from my generation actually having consumed those culture products, and thus experience genuine nostalgia?

I saw Tron in the theater, and I played the video game in an arcade. Are the makers of the new film appealing to my nostalgia, or yours?

deepomega (#1,720)

The answer, clearly, is "yes". Also to people who do not experience nostalgia, but feel like they should.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Also to people who feel no nostalgia for Tron, real or imagined, but might be enticed by an hour-long Daft Punk video starring Jeff Bridges.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I am extremely upset that the new lightbikes can be jumped. That's just wrong.

@Abe Sauer: This is the first I've heard of lightbike-jumping, and I call HERESY on that too.

djfreshie (#875)

I really hope there's a scene where Jeff Bridges walks up and down circular stairs in perfect rhythm with the Korg.

Josh Kurp (#9,088)

It's secondhand nostalgia.

ericdeamer (#945)

This is either the most depressing or most encouraging thing I've read in a long time. One one level it's extremely depressing to think that "The Youngs" are apparently engaged in the (to my eyes) kind of pathetic practice of lionizing all this crap that I experienced first-hand at the exactly appropriate age and can attest really wasn't that great. OTOH, it's kind of awesome that anyone out there would implicitly be thinking that the experience of being disappointed with Tron after seeing it in the theater as a 9 year old was somehow cool I guess?

deepomega (#1,720)

@DD: Having seen it last night, I can safely say that it is actually a 15 minute long Daft Punk video starring Jeff Bridges, accompanied by a 45 minute long fight scene and an hour long wait for the plot twists you saw coming ten minutes into it.

s. (#775)
DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

@DO: DAMN IT DISNEEEEEEEEEEEEY

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Gef: Now that I've seen Tron 2, this piece takes on a whole new meaning. Tron 2 is garbage, but i'm not sure if it's genius garbage or just garbage garbage. It's only a "Tron" movie in the sense that they have lightbikes and those giant flying "M" interceptor things. (I saw a cameo by one of those Tanks as well). Otherwise, Tron 2 is as much Tron as The Mummy is Indiana Jones. In fact, and why this piece is all the more interesting after seeing Tron 2, Tron 2 has more in common with Star wars nostalgia. How many times in Tron 2 did I think I was watching Light Brite Star Wars? I stopped counting. I mean, there were the obvious ones like Sam taking the rear gunner position in the escape from the Death Star, re, I mean Giant Glowing Dildo Tower. When it fell from the sky and almost crashed there was a even neat-o sound effect stolen from the Revenge of the Sith pod race. There was Sam Flynn's sneaky cloaked Return of the Jedi entrance to Jabba's lair in Tron City. There was Clu's Darth Vader review of the assembled red storm trooper army in the hanger. That bald nincompoop lackey of Clu's did a great Bib Fortuna impression. How about Obi Wan Flynn using the force to reprogram the strom trooper in order to get the ship and escape. Plus, the The general overall "Whoopie!! Way to go kid!" horridness of the mutual dialogue in the cockpit scene had Lucas' pen all over it
Besides that, when it comes to nostalgia and Tron 2, it was great to see a few hints to things I loved in the 80s, like how they found a role for Snake Eyes and that awesome Tron Stomper car with the changeable wheels. I loved Stompers.

CMCA (#9,120)

@ S.: AMEN. That lyric was all I could think of as soon as I started reading this post.

deepomega (#1,720)

OK yes all well and good and true. But if you even imply that Escape From New York is not fucking amazing, I swear to god I will build a wall around you and turn you into a prison.

(I have a lot of feelings about this movie, which I feel like I should turn into a longer thing some day? The Escape series is a really weird cultural mirror!)

City_Dater (#2,500)

I love ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK so much. There are no words.

Matt (#26)

LIKE SERIOUSLY WHO HAS NOT SEEN ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE 12. (LIKE I AM.)

djfreshie (#875)

I'm not sure what we're complaining about, nobody has or would ever suggest that Escape from New York is a bad movie, because if they did, everyone would stop listening to them immediately. Like a tree falling but nobody's around to hear it. The tree is the suggesting that it's a bad movie. The nobody around is the nobody caring. Analogies!

From THX to Escape NY toTelefon to Halloween, let us give it UP for Donald Pleasance.

kt (#5,981)

I honestly do not think that stuff like the Tron movie is being made for wannabe Klostermans who OD'ed on VH1 in high school, which, guilty, so much as it is the work of nerds made good who have lost all perspective WRT what normal people like and are interested in. Mostly I use this theory to complain about them doing a Hal Jordan Green Lantern movie or laying the groundwork for an Infinity Gauntlet movie but I think it applies here as well.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

They've got a LOT of work to do if they're going to do an Infinity Gauntlet flick. Although I'd love to see who they cast as the Living Tribunal.

@boyofdestiny: You just know it'd be stunt casting for Google bait. I predict the Kardashian sisters.

kt (#5,981)

Baldwins or gtfo

I watched the original A-team (in prime time!), but I never watched VH1. Ever. Because it sucked. It's always sucked. Deal With It.

Dickdogfood (#650)

I think that cable movie channels, video stores, NetFlix and YouTube have been far more powerful and longer-lasting promoters of your "incepted nostalgia" than VH1. Take your list of impending remakes: nearly all of them are from the early-mid '80s, perhaps not coincidentally a time when VHS and cable went thoroughly mainstream. (I don't remember the exact numbers, but cable penetration in the US jumped something like 20% around then.)

BTW, you think maybe they'll do a "I Love XXXX" reboot?

City_Dater (#2,500)

It is oddly pleasing to learn that people too young to remember something that I actually experienced now believe they experienced it too because Michael Ian Black told them about it.

And the boomers think they have all the pop culture power just because it is impossible to escape Paul McCartney…

brent_cox (#40)

Sad face.

MParcells (#375)

And in a few years, we can have "I love the 'I love the 80s'", and the resulting movie remake, which will win all of the Oscars. Because of false nostalgia.

Tyler Coates (#451)

I've always been fascinated with the concept of "false nostalgia," which is something I experience when I listened to (and loved!) M83's Saturdays = Youth, which is all shoegazey and John Hughesy. It still tugs at my heartstrings even though I wasn't old enough to have seen those teen movies when they came out in the '80s, nor did I grow up in that kind of suburban environment. The French singer/songwriter didn't grow up in those environs, either, but he still experienced the cultural impact of those movies and tried to make a sonic equivalent (or at least a sonic call-back).

As someone who was born in 1983 and is so very adamant that he is not a Millennial (you can ask a few people who comment on this site regularly about my drunken fights about it IRL!), I take a bit of offense at any notion that someone can't experience culture after the fact. I always joke that I first heard of The Smiths from The Wedding Singer soundtrack, but even if that's the (admittedly lame) way I discovered them, does that negate my love for "How Soon Is Now?" Should I feel dumb for starting to listen to Pavement in 2010? (This is something that I think about often; I know it's going off on an unrelated tangent, but still!)

I've never seen Tron and I don't intend to, but I really want to see Tron: Legacy. It just looks cool and stupid and fun! In terms of remaking movies or adapting them from old TV shows, I think it has less to do with any sort of forced or false nostalgia as much as it is just a quick and easy way to make a lot of money on something that has proven to be a success. Teenagers today have most likely never seen The A-Team, not even re-runs of it, but they may be conscious of the title. Or maybe, in the most cases, not! There's an entire generation out there who have no idea who Winona Ryder is! Seeing Molly Ringwald or Anthony Michael Hall show up in a movie wouldn't be very exciting to them! But watching an "I Love the…" show, which were in fact pretty entertaining, also allows them to go and discover movies and music and television shows they wouldn't find on their own – does that create a nostalgia or just a (pop) cultural understanding?

Is this concept truly new to the generation that watched these shows on VH1? I'd argue that any period comedy film marketed to teenagers, from American Graffiti to Porky's to Dazed and Confused, is responsible for creating the same false sense of nostalgia.

Matt Langer (#2,467)

Really tempted to do something with http://www.istylercoatesamillennial.com. But if it just said "NO!" that'd be kind of useless and uninformative, right? Maybe something like "NO! (but katiebakes totally is lol!!1)"

Tyler Coates (#451)

I support this.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I was born in 1985, but I'll happily call myself a millenial if that divorces me from the 80s. Bleurggh John Hughes bleurggggh

Matt Langer (#2,467)

I mean, but anyway, seriously, I think there are a number of things at work here, but two primary ones that I can actually think of through this awful hangover. 1.) the difference between remembering and historicizing (and/or the old trope "it isn't until the current generation is dead and gone that we'll be able to make an objective assesment of the Bush administration/the Kennedy assassination/World War II/etc/etc/whatever"), and 2.) this rampant and yet not really ever widely-fessed-up-to sense of covetousness and/or ownership with respect to cultural artifacts and the "authenticity" of one's experience thereof. I think when these two ingredients are mixed it's inevitable to end up in a place where two experiences of culture are divergent, and even if not in any objectively legitimate way (whatever that means!) in a still material and meaningful capacity (if for no other reason than that it's actually undeniably there and active and influencing one's aesthetic consideration of these matters). But like I said I'm pretty hungover and there's a pretty good chance this is all a bunch of relativistic bullshit anyway, but whatever! I watched "Knight Rider" before it was syndicated so I demand to be taken seriously!

Tyler Coates (#451)

Well, the fact is that no one "owns" any sort of cultural event or product. (Also, while we're here, there is no one whose cultural identifiers and appreciation is so extraordinary that it makes them special.) There is no such thing as a statute of limitations on cultural appreciation. I probably saw The Breakfast Club and Empire Records in the same year, but that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to feel nostalgia for the former because I saw it the year that the latter was released on video.
Now, when it comes to fads and commercials that "happened" before my time: sure, it'd be silly to be nostalgic for those. I never owned a Pet Rock. I am aware of the significance of "I learned it from you, Dad!" but I never saw that commercial when it originally aired. But I also don't feel any sort of memory for those things just because I saw a C-list comedian make a joke about them on VH1. That'd be silly! But I am nostalgic for the first time I saw The Breakfast Club and Heathers and Star Wars. I own Match Game and Soap on DVD! That's because television, film, and music are cultural elements that are timeless. Nostalgia is a personal experience more so than it is a communal one.

Matt Langer (#2,467)

Filed under "BECAUSE YOUR OPINION MATTERS TO ME GREATLY," just wanted to clarify that we are in complete agreement re: ownership of culture. COMPLETE AGREEMENT. But now I have to run to a meeting, so, as they say, "more tk!" (sidenote: I FUCKING HATE "TK" WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN WHEN DID WE START SPELLING "COME" WITH A "K") (sidenote 2: "KOMING & KRYING?!") (lol?!)

Dickdogfood (#650)

I'm not sure cultural covetousness really helps to explain the disgust for this kind of nostalgia. Oftentimes, it's exactly the opposite: an incomprehension why anybody would want dredge up this particular part of one's past. Like: I was there, I saw it in the theater when I was a kid, I liked it–but there are people who loved Arthur enough to make a remake a potentially profitable exercise? Really? That thing? A movie I haven't spent more than five minutes thinking about in the last twenty years?

Or beyond imcomprehension, resentment: I resent the idea that the A-Team was some kind of universally beloved artifact. Hated that shit as a kid. Hated it.

deepomega (#1,720)

@DD: Once again, our minds are two horses in tandem. John Hughes nostalgia is the worst nostalgia.

Dickdogfood (#650)

Oh I always liked John Hughes films, but again, there seems to be this expectation that if you grew up in the '80s you related to them, hard. No. NO.

Tyler Coates (#451)

I have a feeling this happens in a lot of Hollywood-type meetings: "Let's take your film treatment and write a script using the same names of characters in this other movie that came out [x] years ago and then put the name of that movie on your title page! It'll make us at least ten million dollars more than the stupid boring unfamiliar title you came up with!"

LondonLee (#922)

I think what we have now is Hollywood is full of execs who grew up in the 80s and replaced their decade-younger predecessors who had previously green-lighted 70s remakes like The Brady Bunch and Starsky & Hutch.

iantenna (#5,160)

this is only sort of apropos to anything anybody's said in this thread but you guys made me think of it so here it is: pitchfork called low the best album of the 70s. low is, in fact, a wonderful album, but it is not even the best david bowie album of the 70s. there's at least two, arguably three, that are better. in their defense, the "hip" bands at the time p'fork's list came out, were almost certainly more informed by low and, especially, the production work of brian eno than they were by, say, hunky dory. the point being, i think there's a lot more at work here than "false nostalgia", with revisionist history playing a large part. "i love the 80s" cherrypicked popular culture because their goal was to amuse and to mock, while making sure it all fit into their larger narrative of what 80s pop culture was and meant. spending a lot of time talking about terms of endearment or the killing fields or whatever just didn't fit into that narrative. which is fine, it's not vh1 or pitchfork's job to give us the definitive history of x, y, or z but the problem is that people can, and do, take that shit as the gospel. pitchfork, of course, more so than vh1.

Dickdogfood (#650)

If memory serves, I Love the '80s did in fact cover Terms of Endearment. Minor minor point.

I'm curious to know what in fact was VH1's "larger narrative of what 80s pop culture was and meant" when they made the series. I'm not so sure they had any such grand plans. (Not consciously, anyway.)

Also: if what we're really talking about is revisionism, who's doing the revising–and to what end–when we get (say) an A-Team movie or a Tron sequel?

iantenna (#5,160)

in retrospect, "larger narrative" was being generous. basically, i think their goal was only to mock, or appreciate ironically. so, any pop culture that was serious or artful was left to the wayside. whereas, with pitchfork, anything that's not an important influence on the arcade fire, or dubstep, or kanye, or whatever, is left to the wayside.

finn (#940)

I have a feeling this happens in a lot of Hollywood-type meeting

It's kind of like when you're brainstorming concepts for the next installment of your hit pirate/fantasy movie franchise (orginally based on a theme park ride), but you're having trouble coming up with anything good, so you buy the rights to a 20-year-old pirate/fantasy novel and borrow plot elements from that instead.

melis (#1,854)

This thread needs an Arthur/Arthur joke.

And why would anyone remake a David Lynch film? That makes literally no sense, even by Hollywood standards.

migraineheadache (#1,866)

The Richard Gere remake of Breathless comes to mind.

LondonLee (#922)

Basically we're annoyed about youngsters latching onto our past out of some superficial notion of coolness or, worse, camp fun.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Ummmm, nope. Not exactly. It’s the difference between genuinely experience something when it first happened versus “remembering” it due to it being re-marketed for whatever reason years after the fact.

When something is first created or experienced it’s messy, not perfect and not really expected. When it is spoon fed afterwards, it’s cleaned up, rough edges removed and presented as a fait accompli… Something it never was at the point of creation.

Some people indeed simply see this as youngs versus olds, but there is a vast difference (for example) in my and my teen pals seeing Tron in 1982 and immediately saying it sucks and then folks somehow latching onto the film as a cultural artifact of such significance that it should be revered.

This Tron sequel was never asked for, expected or really has any connection to the original plot. Hint: If you actually saw the first Tron you would realize the plot is about as deep as the plot to a 1980s video game. I’d like to see it not out of nostalgia, but because it just looks amazing.

Also, fun fact about the accoutrements of nostalgia that people often find at flea markets and thrift stores: If there is a HUGE deadstock of something it means it was never popular to begin with and thus it has been sitting around gathering dust. The stuff of true nostalgic value costs more and is harder to find because people actually wanted that stuff.

LondonLee (#922)

That's what I meant by "superficial" – it's a version of the past experienced through a filter which reduces it to a set of easy signposts. The 70s = flares and disco, the 80s = shoulder pads and synth-pop (or Hair Metal if you're American)

I avoided watching “I Love the 80s” back in the day because I worried it would make me feel too old. At the time, the success of Avril Lavigne was making me feel even crankier and alienated from the youngs than usual.

Eventually a New Years Day hangover left me too weak to resist one of the incessant repeats, and I resigned myself to watching all my fond memories dissected by d-listers. Except that didn’t exactly happen. To my surprise, none of the music I really liked back then came up, even the stuff I remembered as being popular. Realizing that had always been out of touch with what was cool was somehow comforting. Now I can write off at least part of my total unhipness to congenital dorkiness and only partially to my wizened age. Thanks Hulk Hogan!

Minor quibble. If you make new films of Conan, Dune or Flash Gordon, they're not remakes per se. These are all properties that existed long before those early 80's films were made. And, it could be argued, are being remade partly because those versions sucked so badly, iconic though they may be.

One more thing, this article explains so much to me about hipsters and hipster style. I get it now. All this nostalgic re-purposing of trends that weren't cool the first time around. I finally get the bizarre resurgence in recent years of: the Member's Only jacket, Sally Jessie Raphael Glasses, Skinny Jeans, neon, tights and oversized T-Shirts…it all makes sense.

How sad, how pathetic, to have no drive to create a pop-culture of your own. Just endless recycling and re-purposing.

Tyler Coates (#451)

Ha ha, yes! No one has created anything new after 2000. We solved nostalgia!

Dickdogfood (#650)

Hi, I have this picture of the Beatles in garish neon Edwardian suits I want to show you.

Much as I love the Beatles, I am being partly serious here: there's a lengthy section in The Armies of the Night where Mailer expresses his horror of the hippies and their effortless robbery from the styles of all cultures from all times. What we're talking about is not that new (but still worth discussing anyway, obv.).

saythatscool (#101)

I don't think you're the first (or last generation) this was done to.

jfruh (#713)

I actually did see the original Tron (not in the theaters, but on cable TV or something a few years later), and have virtually no memory of it. I have had a longstanding appointment to see it with my Dumb Movie Seeing Friend for tomorrow, and have been trying for weeks to get the original out from my local indie video store, but it's been checked out nonstop. (They initially offer to rent it to me on VHS — which honestly would have only enhanced the experience — but discovered that they had sold it at a recent sidewalk sale). So it looks like I'm going to have to just read the no doubt HILARIOUSLY detailed Wikipedia plot summary to get myself up to speed.

Josh Kurp (#9,088)

Fittingly, if you live in NYC, they're showing the original Tron for free in Williamsburg (of course) tonight: http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/free-tron-1982-showing-at-indiescreen/

Neopythia (#353)

I love Tron, unironically, unapologetically love it.

@Neopythia: Right? My love of Tron is so unironic that … well, it's as unironic as anything I've got.

Right? As a 12 year old, it was pretty fucking awesome.

And I'm not looking at this through revisionist-nostalgia-colored glasses.

DENNER (#1,763)

I too Love Tron. It's beautiful. It's great. It was also groundbreaking, visual effects-wise.

Pop Socket (#187)

I saw Tron in theaters as well as Saturn 3 and lot of other bad 80s era science fiction.

As for VH1, the longer they ran the series, the more obscure their cultural touchstones became. By the time of the 1989 episode of I Still Love The 80s rolled around they were literally scraping the bottom of the barrel.

deepomega (#1,720)

Can we talk about how bad Tron is though? The original I mean? Because it's so bad.

Oh, stop. It was rad.

I would give it all up right now to live in the original Tron's neo-Brutalist neon-framed Wendy-Carlos-scored disco world.

I don't think "incepted" means what you think it means. Just say "planted."

Also nostalgia itself is "generally" considered to be a kind of false remembering. A misrememberance of things past, as it were.

Otherwise, yes, the packaging of older people's pasts is a thing that happened and is happening. Just like when Happy Days sold me a 50s I never knew. In the 50s they yearned for the 20s. In the 20s for the 1890s. Even Dostoyevsky is filled with conflict between the men of the [18]50s and those of the [18]70s. And then there's Don Quixote…

Anyway, I saw the original Tron on tv but remember what I do of it mostly from the Mad Magazine parody.

HelloTitty (#830)

It occurred to me yesterday that most of the things I love on the Internet can be directly traced back to my love of Mad Magazine. It was somewhat eye-opening to realize that my tastes haven't changed one bit since I was 7.

@HelloTitty: I'm still surprised that my parents regularly bought copies of Mad Magazine for me at the Stop and Shop. That was some subversive material for a small child.

Also, it meant that I read Mad's parodies of a lot of movies before I actually saw the movies themselves (A Clockwork Orange was a particularly incomprehensible parody for young me). I'm still just getting some of their jokes, happily.

iantenna (#5,160)

i still occasionally hear their parody title for basic instinct (basically, it stinks) in my head, but it's in the voice of jon lovitz's "the critic". the mind is a funny beast.

WTF does The TK Decade mean? I can't find reference to it in the article and I feel kind of stupid.

Limaceous (#2,392)

See Langer's comment above. TK is a publishing/journalism abbreviation for "to come". So he's basically saying "The Decade To Be Named Later".

(No, I don't know why it's spelled with a K, either, but there's some speculation on Wikipedia that because the two letters rarely appear together in English, it makes finding and replacing TKs much easier. And yes, part of my job involves running a find/replace for TK right before a publication's ship day.)

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Same reason journalists call the first paragraph the "lede," all paragraphs "grafs," and a follow-up story a "folo." Journalists have historically been abominable spellers.

Thanks @Limaceous, I did see that comment but didn't frame it the right way in my head. I thought, "The Decade to Come" and that made no sense since these are all retrospectives! Your explanation makes perfect sense. Appreciate it.

beatbeatbeat (#3,187)

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and those who do know it are doomed to appropriate it.

MaryHaines (#3,666)

The "I Love the [decade]" series started out strong but got lazy. The worst was when the nostalgia on the show itself was plainly phony — like when someone like Avril Lavigne would be talking about "American Bandstand" or "Good Times" or whatever. Then it wasn't just "I remember that!" It was "I am pretending to remember that, based on a clip the producers have just shown me!" And I felt cheap and used. Also, way too much Hal Sparks, whom I know only for his annoying omnipresence on those shows.

Gilded Cage (#1,649)

80's nostalgia for kids that grew up in the suburbs. Just like the 80's, the proles are invisible. For a good number of us life was more First Born and River's Edge with parents who were wrecked by living through the 70's. Some were angry Vietnam vets, others were cocaine addicts with a disco hangover. Bad Brains, Black Flag and The Smith's for lighter days. That's what I remember. Ah the memories.

Cobalt (#7,571)

You can have nostalgia for something in terms of glorifying an experience or a thing, and/or you can have a sense of melancholy for something that has been lost to time. You can have actual nostalgia for something you've never experienced but only heard about, and it doesn't make the nostalgia any more false. You might as well go out and buy little vintage Light Cycle toys, and never need actually see the original film. Watching the Tron sequel won't actually alleviate any sense of nostalgia you have for a film you've never seen. Watching Tron won't help either. With nostalgia, you'd still pine for the resolution of a firsthand experience you can't actually have had in the proper time or place.

For everyone else who experienced Tron firsthand (and the video game!), we get to deal with our feelings of melancholy about it instead in watching this sequel (or experiencing our own nostalgia in rewatching the original if we're one of those nerds who already owns it on DVD).

Still no amount of nostalgia or melancholy will help make what sounds like an awful sequel become a better movie.

A.R. Chrisman (#2,964)

Remember that one Awl comment session about remembering things?

What isn't addressed in this good precursor to "Why Everything Sucks" is what this implies for the future. If our generation's culture is founded upon the stagnant, ghostly remnants of the past then what will tomorrow's be? A more translucent shade? Or some sort of bilious concoction, two parts ironic corporate nightmare and one part naivete?

Tully Mills (#6,486)

I was always under the impression that most of these movies were being made by people who grew up with the original and are now old enough/have the means to make them?

DENNER (#1,763)

Tron is so good, SO GOOD.

Freddie (#4,189)

Fact I recently found out: factoid means an incorrect fact, not a little fact.

I really like Tron. And "Voices Carry."

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