“They’re bringing back all of the old stuff because none of the new stuff is any good.” –My Mother (circa 1975)
My son is almost 10 years old. When I was around his age, the ’50s had returned in the form of American Graffiti, Happy Days, and Grease. My mother–high school class of 1958–would frequently tell us that “they” were bringing back everything from the ’50s because it was so much better than anything current. Setting aside that it was the 1970s….possibly not the strongest decade in the history of western culture….my mother was convinced the entertainment and trends of her youth were far superior to anything available when I was a kid.
Here we are 35+ years later, and I find myself thinking–and occasionally even uttering–almost the exact claim my mother made–Only instead of the ’50s, the ’80s are my golden age (with a careful sprinkling of the ’70s….very careful, and only a sprinkling). And as I look around, the entertainment industry seems to be helping.
So, Who Shot J.R.?
I don’t know–They won’t reveal the truth about that for at least a few more weeks. You see, since Jack Bauer made his final run for it a few years ago, I have actively avoided becoming an appointment viewer of anything new–until I happened by the rebooted Dallas. So while I’m guessing the answer will not be Kristen this time around, I have to admit that I am enjoying this re-launched series.
That’s not to say that every revival of the ’80s has worked. Most of the movies based upon ’80s TV shows have not resonated with me….or, based upon their limited commercial success, with many other people. But that having been said, we have spent a few evenings watching a variety of these. The A-Team had its moments, and my family enjoyed The Smurfs (although I have to admit the little blue guys originally came out when I was a little older).
Tapes & DVDs & All That Comes Next
Classic Looney Tunes, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a few other key pieces of my childhood have always been part of my kids’ lives. Lines from my after-school cartoons in the ’70s, such as “Pen-gu-ins is prac-tic-ally chickens” and “I knight thee, Sir Loin-of-Beef,” are part of the cultural literacy of our family. My son even has a DVD of a few Speed Racer episodes that he enjoyed when he was 5 or 6. Now that they are older, we are working through the Star Trek episodes I started watching in 3rd grade, back when there was no need to label them TOS. And of course they have seen all kinds of films I would rate as worthy, from Disney classics to Star Wars and E.T. No need to wait years for a studio re-release for this generation.
So when I tell my kids that “When I was little, we had to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special the one night it was on TV. If we missed it, we couldn’t see it again until next year,” they think I grew up in the stone age. They live in an era of entertainment-on-the-shelf….or in-the-mailbox….or even on-demand….and favorite TV shows are on whenever we want to fire up the DVR. Of course, my parents grew up pre-TV, and when I was little I thought that sounded as incredible as “We walked to school, in the snow, uphill–both ways.” So I understand their point of view.
I don’t live in the past, but I do like to relax there once in a while. And I have to wonder: Will my own kids be so nostalgic about today’s film and TV? They may not need to be, because it seems everything is–and always will be?–available to them. And, to be honest, they watch a lot less than we did–all 5 of us do. So there’s no telling how my grandchildren will see my kids’ childhood as ancient history–but they will.
Meanwhile, just wait until later this month: Johnny Sokko & His Flying Robot will be landing in my mailbox….Sweet.
“‘Can’t repeat the past,’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!'”–F. Scott Fitzgerald