New Nostalgia (In 3D!) (Or, How the Internet and Hollywood greed make us want to relive the recent past)
There’s a meme floating around Facebook, a list of facts meant to make twenty-somethings feel old despite objective evidence to the contrary (i.e. their age)- did you know Will Smith has an award- for his rap career? That the Seinfeld finale aired a startling 14 years ago? That Stephanie Tanner is 30 years old and strung out on meth? etc., etc.
And it’s not just Facebook. Not-so-long ago nostalgia is getting a wide release, only in theatres. This week, the 15-year-old Titanic will be re-released (in 3-D!) at the box office, hoping to add to its paltry 1.8 billion dollar draw. This comes on the heels of the re-release of Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace (in 3-D!) back in February, which followed the re-release of Beauty and the Beast (in 3-D!) back in January, which followed the re-release of The Lion King (in 3-D!) back in 2011, which followed the re-release of the first two Toy Story movies (in 3-D!) back in 2009.
And what can we expect in the future? Well, there’s Monsters Inc. (in 3-D!), Finding Nemo (in 3-D!), and The Little Mermaid (yes, also in 3-D!). George Lucas also plans to re-release the entire Star Wars saga in years to come (all in 3-D!). Movie studios, Disney especially, by the looks of it, have figured out an amazing scheme to separate plebs from their hard earned cash- these are not just your favourite movies returning to theatres, these are your favourite movies returning with a whole new dimension! And Hollywood is reaping in the rewards: The Lion King finished its first week with a $30.2 million, and ended its run with a North American box office take of over $94 million. Beauty and the Beast 3-D also topped its expectations, bringing in over $47 million in its time in theaters.
And let’s not forget the remakes, rehashes, and re-imaginings. The recent hit 21 Jump Street seems to have become more popular than the cult TV show upon which it’s based (though the film, admittedly, has little to do with the show); a remake of Total Recall- not even 22 years old, younger than yours truly-will hit theatres on August 3; Andrew Garfield as The Amazing Spider-Man will reboot a series that ended in 2007 (have we already forgotten the last millennium’s quintessential Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire?); American Reunion unnecessarily revives the hit American Pie series that should have been laid to rest on a deathbed of direct-to-DVD features and Eugene Levy’s career; and on and on it goes, a new decade forever picking at the carcasses of the last two.
So yes, it’s inescapable. And where there’s a cash cow, there’s a whole new pop cultural landscape. This new trend, a new nostalgia, has been helped along by cable television (“I Love the 90’s” five years after the new millennium begins? For crying out loud, let it rest at least another decade before you raid its hallowed grave for cheap punch lines. Oh haha, Jaleel White remembers the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Guess what, Urkel: everybody does!). Television and movies, like VH1’s ungodly series and children’s cinema that is also geared towards adults, has made Generation Y aware that they didn’t have to be old like their parents in order to fondly remember and relive the past, however recent. In fact, there’s a trend now that Gen Y best enjoys cartoon movies when they understand the avalanche of references that sneak past their blissfully unaware, post-millennial siblings.
And if movies and television made us aware, the Internet gave us a place to be annoying about it. Surely people in other decades looked at the one prior with dewy-eyed fondness. But they didn’t have the Internet in which to publicly obsess about their childhood and forever stoke this nostalgia. The Internet may make us more aware of our place in history than ever before, and the venting of feelings on forums, comment sections and status updates makes us suddenly aware that we are not alone. Indeed, other people also enjoyed The Lion King when they were young! Who knew?
There have always been remakes and re-releases, and have been since the earliest days of cinema (a Wizard of Oz had been made in 1925, fourteen years before the classic we know best). But self-awareness and the urge to watch things/plots/ideas you’ve already experienced takes a monster leap when you have a new community with which to bounce around memories and references.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a petition to sign for a Citizen Kane remake.