Nostalgia has been a recurring topic lately in my classes. We were talking about how this current generation think they’re the best, i.e. they have an incredibly high level of self-esteem. However, previous generations adamantly attest that it is the complete opposite: this generation is self-centred and demanding of things that they should not demand, e.g. higher pay when they start working and more vacations.
And during our discussions we all boiled it down to nostalgia. The older generation will always reminisce about how they grew up as a child and assume that the new generation should follow the status quo, i.e. go through everything they’ve done. But isn’t that wrong?
And I kind of connected this to when we were introducing ourselves in another class and the teacher and an older student were complaining about how Harry Potter was not as amazing as everyone thinks it is and that it doesn’t have anything new that has already been done, e.g. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I took that moment to look around in the circle and saw some interesting expressions – people who obviously looked a bit insulted.
Personally, I believe that the trends of a person’s childhood, whatever they’ve grown up with, is something personal, something of their own. The same way I grew up with Harry Potter, Lizzie McGuire and Simple Plan, I’m sure that the people of this generation are growing up with The Hunger Games, Hannah Montana and One Direction. Sometimes it can’t be helped what is immediately available to us when we grow up and how it influences us; and while we may not all love the movies and books present, it is still a nostalgic attachment for us. More importantly, while we can discern that they are not the best and, heck, not innovative or new, they are still the first things we came across and the first things we see and read.
Hence, I believe it is ridiculous to assume that a kid today who loves The Hunger Games and spends their allowance on concerts and movies that others think are just badly made carbon copies of what they grew up with is stupid. We are forgetting that there will always be a generation before us who will assume the same of us.
And it is equally ridiculous to assume that we should all be the same. The caveman cannot gripe that today we don’t have to deal with running away from predators and starting a fire. Similarly, generations before us cannot gripe that we spend too much time on technology – because how can we equate today what “too much time” is? Likewise, we cannot assume that children today should grow up the same way that we did. Since we went through a particular route as a child, it does not mean that we should force our children to go through the exact same. Times change and progress will not be progress if we continue on an endless cycle. (I believe this is the central concern of many dystopian novels these days.)
Yes, I know, this is another rant, but I felt it was really something bugging me at the moment. Reviewers always complain and generalise young adult content without considering that they probably went through the same process when they were younger – terrible Mario Bros and Street Fighters movies were prevalent in the 90s but looking back and they become cult favourites with nostalgic fan boys quoting lines and scenes, overanalysing scenes that aren’t really meant to be analysed.
Terrible novels in the past are now classics and canoned. Who says this won’t be the same for Twilight fifty years down the road? Who says literature students won’t end up studying the words and writing dissertations on its cultural influence?
There will always be imitations and adaptations in every generation – and maybe it’s also inevitable that as we get older we become more nostalgic and more skeptical of what comes out from the cultural milieu. But I think an overarching rule should always be to never insult someone else’s childhood. “Oh you loved Harry Potter? But it’s just a rip-off of -” No. No. I grew up with it and it was what really got me into other books and movies.
At the end of the day, we can share in our love of books and movies together – but also respect others for what got them into books and movies too.
Till next time!