Is Nostalgia Overrated?

Nostalgia is defined as “a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, ... [or as] a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time” (Dictionary.com). Now, there is a new wave of nostalgia-based content in media. But is this nostalgia surge everlasting, or it is just a fad?

The new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, banked on nostalgia, and it worked. The film made $936 million in the U.S. alone, becoming the highest-grossing domestic release. As good a film as it is, it is almost entirely nostalgia-based. Han Solo, Chewbacca, X-wings, Storm Troopers, etc.; are all things from our childhoods. 

Being a millennial, I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS and saw all three prequel movies in the theater. I am a rare breed of Star Wars fan in that I love the entire saga, and I am not really nostalgic for Star Wars because I have always been around it and it has always been around me. In the case of other movies, I do have some nostalgia for them.

I really enjoyed the Spy Kids films when I was a kid. They were funny, action-packed, and had heart. I saw all three of them in the theater and bought the first two on VHS. A few weeks ago, the popular YouTube celebrity, Doug Walker, “The Nostalgia Critic,” posted a video on Spy Kids 3D.

The Nostalgia Critic is a film reviewer on YouTube who goes back and looks at films that we may have thought were good as a child, but don’t really hold up now. His reviews aren’t meant to be taken entirely seriously, but usually do bring up good points. Walker’s review of Spy Kids 3D points out many flaws of the film, from the ridiculous 3D, to the atrocious dialogue, to the overall silliness of it. I realized that the movie just wasn’t what I remembered. However, I wasn’t nostalgic for it, I just developed a different point of view on it.

Levels of nostalgia can vary from person to person, but many times, you are let down. We have to accept that often, things just aren’t as good when we are adults, as they were when we were kids. We’ve changed and the times have changed. Old media should stop being viewed through rose-colored glasses. Hopefully Hollywood will realize this, before it is too late, otherwise we will end up with endless cash-ins at the box office.