Tuesday, September 17

Finding comfort in the nostalgia of throwbacks

Marketers have caught to a resurgent interest in the past. (Creative Commons photo by Brent Moore via Flickr)

Marketers have caught to a resurgent interest in the past. (Creative Commons photo by Brent Moore via Flickr)

As forward-thinking we millennials seem to be, there sure is a lot of looking back.

The release of “Fuller House” is a perfect example that nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be. More and more “throwbacks” are making their way into the modern age, as can be seen in many different aspects of American life, including the growing appeal of “retro” designs in marketing and fashion.

There is so much information being thrown at, well, everyone these days that a mere week can feel like a long time. Throwbacks have become a way to remember – and celebrate – the past, small accomplishments that weren’t acknowledged because a notification popped up while someone texted their best friend about their good news. Sometimes that accomplishment is simply being cute with family, or hanging out with friends – the recall of which can increase the perception of “social connectedness,” according to Colleen Leahey of Fortune.

In the current economy, young people want to remember better days (regardless of the truth of that romanticization), whether it’s several decades ago or a week ago. Young people might also want to not feel so alone, a growing issue that didn’t exist to the same extent several decades ago, despite the technology we have today that supposedly keeps everyone connected.

With the revival (and success) of TV shows, like “Girl Meets World,” and “The X-Files,” this generation appears to want to return to more cheerful storylines. The programming of our childhood had explicit discussions of real world problems, as they did when “That’s So Raven,” “Full House,” and “Sesame Street” discussed racial tension, body image, prison or death, all within the context of age-appropriate storylines and sandwiched between group hugs, (quite literally) to the sound of violins and corny catchphrases that went a long ways toward lightening the material. Not to mention, these stories almost always ended with the problem solved happily, or at least with an acceptable level of understanding and comfort. TV shows for an older audience, like “Scandal” and “House of Cards,” tend to take a pessimistic approach to politics and life in general, often with a healthy dose of raunch. There are exceptions to this, though, like the newly released “Zootopia” thatportrays systems of and reactions to oppression and prejudice, and in a way that still manages to engage and entertain the intended audience.

These revivals are updated enough so they appear modern in circumstances, but the primary appeal of the shows is the fact that they are more grown-up versions of the childhood shows that people used to watch – in other words, the shows grew up with their viewers. “Fuller House”’s writing holds far more innuendo and adult humor than the original, and although the estimated viewership suggests its success (despite harsh reviews), I would hazard a guess that that success didn’t came from many viewers of the original “Full House.” Many of those watching are likely adults who understood every single callback to the original show. And there were many, many callbacks.

People are jumping on the opportunity to relive “simpler” times, especially as many people reach the age where they are expected to understand and pursue the difficult path to financial and personal success. Anxiety about the future can be buffered by the feeling of nostalgia, so it’s no wonder that we want to remember times that seem better, even if we didn’t necessarily live through them.

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