graphic by Conner Maggio

The ‘90s are the new ‘80s

We are now old enough to have our childhoods repackaged and sold to us.

Gestalt theory has this seminal approach to thinking that defines itself with the word “Now.” There is all this screaming about end of days and then the nuclear spring in which humanity engages in the ultimate deep ecology of mass suicidal apocalypse. All of this simulated for us so deliciously in our thoughts, which language will redirect us to the image of “Mad Max” desert battles with Fidel Castro’s neon Stalinist corpse shouting Swahili profanities.

The great holy Prophet Baudrillard proclaims with the frenetic fervor of post-capitalist Marxist ire: “Nostalgia assumes its full meaning.” Consumerism killed its darlings and Now it has to call Ra’s al Ghul to dip his greasy sausage fingers into the Lazarus Pit, pulling out all of your favorite childhood TV shows.

This is the “mass” in mass-consumerism. Information overwhelms the self, so much so that I have lost all identity and now see myself as an amalgamation of Surge and Baby Bottle Pops, which for Christ’s sake should have been discontinued the moment it was conceived.

We are getting the “Stranger Things” treatment. It’s this sense that if we let our #ThrowbackThursday slip away, we lose ourselves, which is probably true. The information tidal wave forces a time loop on us where the temporal distortion is riptidal and sucks us into this constant dopamine euphoria complex. If we stop the blood-letting, we lose ourselves. So to clot is to not be daydreaming of our Busch-light mountain-man adventure complete with jumping salmon and hungry grizzlies. So Baudrillard calls this the Simulacrum, the simulation of simulations, in which our lives become an aspiration of the image of our desires, which is certainly not formed by us; and this is happening early for us millennials. Our parents got the nostalgic marketing schtick in the early 2010s, and we are getting it Now.

10 years following the end of a generation-bending TV show, as opposed to the Total Recall and “Mad Max” reboots coming 30 years after, we get “Avatar: the Last Airbender” in live action. People, are you listening? The same exact show with sweaty new writers and sexier new characters is coming back for you to binge-watch this time. This is happening en masse: Pepsi has a beet sugar throwback, “Runescape” still makes you pay $12 a month for 90 percent of the same game and every dadgum box of cereal has slapped on the old two-tone ‘70s design.

Look at Jimmy Neutron; he has aged like a Botox-ridden Frankenstein. Perhaps everything we think we love is a matter of mass culture, or maybe you’re beyond all this and you didn’t buy the Dunkaroos reboot. I’m still gonna tell you, your childhood hero, George W. Bush, would probably beat you senseless on “Mario Kart 8.” Santa Claus is not real no matter how many times you watch “Miracle on 34th Street.” Ed Helms is lying to you, because the good ol’ days never existed.

The point is, getting all worked-up on the reboot of your childhood favorite is just nostalgia marketing. You’re a target audience, not the recipient of an art form.

Post Author: Thomas von Borstel