Are we Living in an Age of Neostalgia?

2:19 PM Joseph Aberl 0 Comments



Recently it seems that reboots and remakes are almost everywhere you look. Some classic television shows are being brought to the silver screen, if you think of Dredd or Mad Max: Fury Road. However, even old films are being turned into TV series, such as Minority Report or Limitless. This topic isn’t even something exclusive for the entertainment market, but even advertising has started using this trend to bring back some almost forgotten product icons, such as McDonalds re-inventing the Hamburglar and Kentucky Fried Chicken bringing back Colonel Sanders. While I doubt we will ever have remakes of books, but there have certainly been various interpretations of classic literature, if you take for example into account the book series The Looking Glass Wars that are a new look at the classic Alice in Wonderland books. This simply proves that nothing is truly safe from a reinterpretation or complete reboot. Though is this creating a new age that transcends classic nostalgia and creates something I tend to always see as a part of neostalgia

Naturally, this is not a hard word to explain as it simply consists of the words neo, which is the ancient greek word for “new”, and nostalgia. I confess this isn’t the most creative way of creating new definitions or words for a specific topic, which seems to be a trend in general in any industry, but crowdsourcing[1] also just consists of the words crowd and outsourcing, so maybe we can let this slip. Yet one would wonder what exactly the point of all of this? Well, as I stated earlier it seems that our love and admiration for the past has now reached a point where we look at it in a modern context. Even Sailor Moon has received a remake with Sailor Moon Crystal that tries to adapt the technology to modern times, from floppy discs to actual CDs. This shows we are trying to keep our nostalgic memories alive by simply bringing them back. Even if we complain about the lack of originality, people still tend to flock towards these productions. Yet the question remains what does bringing nostalgia into the modern age mean?

Well, in a sense we are combining the feelings of something old and new in one. While watching these new interpretations we not only look back fondly at our memories, but also tend to get surprised on what is changed or adapted. This does not have to necessarily be a positive reaction, as many people would point out that the Robocop remake took away an important element of the original by making it PG-13. However, there are also times were many elements are changed from something classic and still stick true to the original’s message, such as the remake of True Grit that, in a sense, made the original film darker but still kept some elements intact. One can naturally question if there is any point in neostalgia, as in the end we still know the main elements of what made these classic productions what they and only little things truly change. This sentiment may have lead to another part of this trend, the continuation of classic franchises, something we will see realized quite soon with Jurassic World. Many classic projects are actually being continued to keep the original sentiment alive and are once again taking classic elements and adding new things leading to a neostalgic viewing experience.

As one can clearly see, even neostalgia has evolved in the entertainment industry or, even looking at the examples given at the beginning, advertising industry. Things are changing, but somehow they are repeating themselves at the same time. Maybe the changes we are living through are small simply because we do not yet truly want to let go of our nostalgia. People still say how better it was when they were kids and how the cartoons, movies or TV shows were better at that time. Nowadays everything is being reimagined, reinterpreted, rebooted, revisited and many more definitions that start with “re”, but somehow while we are reluctant to see it happen we can’t help but embrace it to a certain degree, because our nostalgia defines us. Our memories of those thins we saw as a child have helped us grow up and we want them to continue the journey with us, in an old but new way. Neostalgia is just a way of looking at the present while remembering the past.

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