Piker Press Banner
June 24, 2024

Adventures of a Grownup

By JH Mae

Pining for the Past

Here are some signs that you may be getting old: You groan every time you sit down or stand up; you think anyone more than five years younger than you is weird; and you pine for the past.

I pine for the past. Big time.

I grew up in the 90s, the era of TGIF programming, Janet Jackson and "Friends" (just to mention a few of my favorite things). And now, apparently, the elder statesmen of my generation are old enough for our favorites to be recycled.

Take, for instance, the Black Eyed Peas and their song, "The Time," which samples the classic "I've Had the Time of My Life" from one of my favorite movies, Dirty Dancing. Because as I've mentioned before, I am old and therefore decry all contemporary pop music, I just heard this song last week. Forgive me if I'm a bit behind.

And I'm more than a little upset.

Dirty Dancing is sacred -- any female approaching or past 30 years old would agree. Johnny Castle is a god; "No one puts Baby in a corner" is the single greatest line from a movie, ever; and the closing dance scene is legendary. You are messing with fire, Black Eyed Peas, daring to sample the movie's admittedly crummy but nonetheless wonderful theme song.

See, there's an element to nostalgia that can be a little deceiving. When you dig into your memories, recalling your childhood and teen years and everything that you experienced, from the toys to the music to the movies, you tend idealize them.

Nostalgia for younger days recalls a time when life was simpler, problems more basic and less life-altering. There were no bills, young children or marriages back then. Parents worried about those things while the clueless kids watched MTV or played Nintendo. So naturally, memories of those days shine with a heavenly golden light.

My enduring love for my 90s pop culture upbringing has kept me from tuning in today. I have admittedly started sounding like a cranky old woman, complaining about "kids today" and their ridiculous skinny jeans (seriously, they do look pretty dumb). I've dismissed an entire group of people, forgetting that when they're 30, they will be pining for the golden days of Niki Minaj, Instagram and "Pretty Little Liars."

And guess what? Though I am still shaking my fist at the Black Eyed Peas, I have to admit: today's pop music, at least, isn't that awful. Those weird youngsters have some pretty catchy tunes out there.

The problem is, I view today's pop culture through the lens of a skeptical, cynical adult. Instead of entertainment, I see commercialism, crudeness and vanity. The heavenly golden light, along with my flexibility and energy, have disappeared with age.

And perhaps I should admit that the pop culture I grew up with wasn't that great. For heaven's sake, my generation liked Saved by the Bell, and that's nothing to be proud of.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.

Article © JH Mae. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-09-23
1 Reader Comments
Phillip Donnelly
09:58:48 AM
Yes, you’re quite right. The 90’s were not all that great. It was the 80’s that were really something!
Even if I take off the rose-tinted spectacles, I still think the 80’s were something quite special. They were the end of the line, the last decade before the information revolution. Media still existed in physical form, and no-one really believed it could ever do otherwise. The cold war was still on, and no-one imagined it could ever stop. Politics mattered. Music mattered. Even television mattered. In the 90’s, these certainties splintered and then cracked.
The point I’m trying to make is that the paradigm has shifted. It’s more than one generation bemoaning another. 21st century kids, Generation Y, are post-generational. The world they live in is a brave new world.
Nostalgia is a dangerous thing, but so is imagining that what is happening now is a repetition of what has gone before. All’s changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.
Your Comments

The Piker Press moderates all comments.
Click here for the commenting policy.