Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nostalgic Feeling needs Creative Healing

You know that feeling you get when you smell that Croatian girl in front of you at Burlington Coat Factory, and it reminds you of a steak you had in an airport during a layover in Vienna, Austria. Then you grunt slightly thinking of that steak and the roasted red potatoes that you almost didn't get because the mixed vegetable medley sounded better. Then the final synaptic memory breaks free, and the entire trip comes flooding back into recollection, the people, the places, the time. Despite that epic sneer from the Croatian girl you just offended by grunting and smiling at her backside, your feeling pretty good, waxing reminiscent on "The Good Ole Days."  What happened there? Nostalgia happened, in the form of an olfactory evoked recall, and it is very powerful, almost as powerful as pure instinct. Just ask advertising agencies around the world.
Here's the order: Fear, Sex, and then Nostalgia. An elite assembly evoking strong emotions, intended primarily for the survival and continuation of the human race. Over the years, our mothers, our husbands, our girlfriends, our teachers, our bosses, and even our children have learned that these things can be used to motivate even manipulate each and every one of us. Fear-mongering has gotten a bad wrap ever since our mothers told us that if we kept making that ugly face it would freeze that way. But despite it's overwhelming negativity, it sells the most product. And the term "sex sells" has been a staple of good salesmanship ever since Eve stood there all sexy and nude and whatnot holding that cursed piece of fruit in front of Adam. Who hasn't jumped on that bandwagon? Everyone talks about fear and sex, but for the lionhearted and chaste among us, I'm going to delve into this phenomenon of nostalgia. To start I would like to provide a list of things that give me nostalgic feelings and see if you don't agree.
1. Corn dogs dripping with grease

2. 8-bit arcade games in an actual arcade

3. Comic books

4. Matchbox cars in the sandbox

5. Saturday morning cartoons

6. Riding bikes until you pee in your pants.

7. Old playgrounds

8. Box Turtles

9. Disney princesses

10. Icy pops on a Friday afternoon.

And one last thing, any webpage beginning with: You know your a child of the 80's if...
Most feelings of nostalgia induce positive vibes, unless of course you are getting re-acquainted with a favorite song that suddenly reminds you of why you had to find that happy place under the stairwell in junior high school. That would be considered a totally freakin' nostalgia backfire. However, nostalgia has been a golden goose for the Hollywood box office, automobile companies and toy manufacturers. As a father I'm enjoying seeing these flashbacks of my childhood, as a consumer I'm a sucker for those advertisements, but as an artist I'm disgusted.
Where did all the creativity go? In the interest of going green creative minds everywhere have entered the Age of Recycled Ideas. Ford Mustangs that harken back to the glory days of the 60's, Cabbage Patch dolls on the shelves in Wal-mart 15 years after they were cool, and a blockbuster movie based on the most boring adventure game ever, Battleship. "C-4" "Awww... you sunk my battleship." I can still see the faces of those kids on the front of the box, having the best time. Sorry, Hasbro, I never had any fun playing that game. Maybe if I had used real C-4...

Creativity is a last resort now-a-days. Why? Because it's cheaper. The price to earnings ratio is much more acceptable in such a questionable economy. Who wants to go out on a limb for a new idea, when there are so many old ones that work so well. Why not play the nostalgia card? It's working because we are all suckers for it. We don't realize that it will soon come back and bite us. The world needs creativity, it needs artists to create something out of nothing. Who knows, if we keep going down this path of least resistance we'll be making remakes of remakes of remakes, and theaters will vomit digital video out of their projection booths because we have become lukewarm.
Don't get me wrong, the creativity is there it just needs space. It needs money. it needs recognition. Don't let your weakness for nostalgia push the creative genius's further out into the starving artist sea. Support the arts. The reason the remakes are good is because they are resting on the shoulders of the greats, the originals.
It all started somewhere.
...and don't even get me started on Reality TV as my wife makes me watch American Idol.


  1. Thank you for voicing my darkest thoughts. I vomitted a bit in my mouth when I saw they remade Footloose. Really? I think "the industry" has jumped the shark with this one. One the other hand, the first Transformers film took me right back to elementary school. Is Mighty Mouse coming back anytime soon?

    1. jason, remakes have their place. as generations come up we feel a need to share old movies with them but they don't want to watch these tired old films we watched back in the day because the special effects were horrifying, so artists take it upon themselves to redo a movie to make it palatable for a new generation. true grit was a great attempt at this and they succeeded in remaking that movie for a new generation, not sure if footloose really worked or the smurfs for that matter. I would go see mighty mouse. that's a great example of a remake for a new generation.

  2. Virginia WasserbergApril 26, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    We watch American Idol and love it! :)

    Hey, did you ever think that there are no new ideas because there's nothing new under the sun? If you look through all of the media, movies, music, etc you'll find that the same ideas have been recycled throughout every part of history.

    But I know what you mean...how many Spiderman movies do we really need? How many times can Batman really being? And what parent would be jumping to take their kid to the new creepy Snow White movie?

    1. could be, Virginia. although as an artist, I like to think Solomon was just speaking on a philosophical and moral level. after all God did create us to create. who knows?
      yep, spiderman and batman, really? again, away fine. I'll probably go see them, but in my heart I'll be longing for a new super hero some that no one has ever thought of before. :-)