Episode 178: Trying To Predict Nostaglia


Last week, I talked about WWE’s Hell In A Cell. It was a very good pay-per-view event but the thing that made it stand out in my opinion is the first ever Hell In A Cell match featuring women’s wrestlers. This was something that hadn’t been done before and that match practically cinched Charlotte and Sasha Banks getting into the WWE Hall of Fame in the future and will be remembered by fans for generations to come.

Of course, they aren’t the only wrestlers who have become legends. You’ve got the Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and many more WWE Superstars. Even wrestling fans who weren’t born when those guys performed in the ring actually are familiar with them as they have reached this level of iconic status. This doesn’t just happen with wrestlers, obviously. We now have a plethora of people, movies, TV shows, cartoons, music and so much more. Sometimes for the wrong reasons even! Just ask Rick Astley about the Rick Roll phenomenon.

And that’s the thing. I don’t people would really remember Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up if it wasn’t for the art of the Rick Roll. Yet, people do remember the song even up to today and it’s now officially stuck in everyone’s head. That’s the weird thing about nostalgia; it’s kind of hard to predict what will click and last and what won’t.

A point can be made that, as long as it’s popular, it’s going to be something people will be nostalgic for in the future. But I don’t think that’s it. What I mean is, just because it’s popular, that doesn’t ensure that it will become an iconic property. Take a look at some of the children’s shows of the past. If you ask someone to name a children’s educational show, they’ll probably mention Sesame Street, Barney the Dinosaur and Dora the Explorer. However, Blue’s Clues may slip their mind for some reason. And yet, I know a lot of people my age who grew up watching Blue’s Clues but have seem to have forgotten all about it!

So, there’s a little more to it than just popularity; it’s definitely not the only component. I think most nostalgic properties from the past have to deal with just lucky timing and just plain luck as well. The 80’s and 90’s had a bumper crop of cartoons like GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. There may seem to be a lot but there were also a ton of failed cartoons that never really seemed to catch on. I had to go to various websites and YouTube to search for what they are and I’m actually astonished at some of them.

That’s not to say that a lot of these cartoons aren’t remembered fondly by a lot of people. I’m just saying that there are a lot of them, like the Gobots, Sectaurs, Dinosaucers, Spiral Zone, Blackstar, Defenders of the Earth, The Bots Master, Star Com, COPS, Laser Tag and so many more! I bet even those who watched these shows and were big fans of these cartoons totally forgotten about them until I just mentioned them now!

I’ll bet they were popular before but they’re simple overshadowed by the more popular cartoons that still has a loyal following. It’s not these shows fault they didn’t retain in the consciousness of the general public, though. It’s just that they were somewhat unlucky as to when kids were just eating these things up.

Which leads me to today. I can’t really say what will be nostalgic like a decade or so from now. I guess an argument could be made that the more popular shows will become iconic and remembered fondly in the future. I can see a sitcom like The Big Bang Theory becoming children and adults wanting to watch reruns of in the future but, then again, the sentiments of people are a fickle thing. A lot of people, including myself, enjoy the show to bits. But there are also a ton of people who dislike the show as well. It’s definitely not universally loved like Seinfeld.

Seinfeld has become a classic, for sure, because everyone loves it. But that shouldn’t really preclude shows that people have mixed emotions about from becoming classics in their own right. The Big Bang Theory may have a lot of haters but I’m pretty sure, in the future, people will still remember the show and talk about it. That’s because, even though they don’t like it, they have a strong emotional connection with The Big Bang Theory. Just mentioning the title and the characters will stir up some feelings inside them. And I think that’s the biggest thing that actually makes people feel nostalgic about: the feelings that we associate with them.

Because of this, it’s pretty difficult to really be sure what will become nostalgic in the future. I know I’m nostalgic about the shows I was extremely fond of when I was a kid. I wouldn’t miss an episode of Hannah Montana and can still remember all of the songs to the first High School Musical. I loved how those shows made me feel and, whenever I think of what the heck happened to Miley Cyrus and how different she is from the Hannah Montanta character I knew growing up, it kind of eats me up inside a little bit.

Hannah Montana? What happened to you?

Hannah Montana? What happened to you?

But I will still have so many good memories of growing up of watching those characters. They were a part of my life and I can identify with that period of my childhood whenever I hear the opening strains of “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical. And I feel the same with a lot of the current shows today, however, I’m not sure if I’ll feel so strongly about them in the future, which is exactly why predicting nostalgia is so hard.

In retrospect, though, do I really need to predict it? Nostalgia appears to be something that happens organically. It’s something that just happens. The creators don’t set out to make an iconic show or product. They’re just in it to make a profit but it just so happens that people just latch onto it and whatever that thing is becomes bigger than anyone intended. Whether it’s luck or just how we feel about it, nostaglia is something unintentional and, honestly, I’m fine with that.

Anyway, talking about High School Musical, I’ve heard they’re making a new series. And I’ll give my thoughts on it next time!

What do you think you’ll be nostalgic for in the future? Let me know in the comments section below!

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