My generation is obsessed with our childhood. Obsessed. This is an obsession that has declared nothing as sacred. 90210 and Melrose Place rule the TV, NKOTB and BSB are going on tour this summer [and yes I do wish that I had tickets for that], Scream 4 is playing in theaters, and Nick is bringing back Clarissa Explains It All and Hey Dude among others. My generation is obsessed with their childhood.
This obsession makes sense, lets be honest, my generation was lied too. We were lied to in a way that makes that line from The Sunscreen Song that states “ accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders” laughable. Here is the thing—no one from my generation will ever say that politicians were noble, we grew up on Bill Clinton, but we will say that prices used to be reasonable, and it won’t be a fantasy [I remember when gas was 99 cents a gallon!].
And we were raised believing things would stay as they had been, constantly getting better for each generation—prices might rise, but so too would paychecks. We would live longer lives then our parents, and politicians, well they would stay politicians. And then we found out the truth—it was all a lie. We came of age to an economy in the toilet, where The New York Times reports that internships [paid if you are lucky] have become the new entry level job, and where at 27 it is okay to live at home with your parents [mom, dad, I promise I will not move home]. We live in a world where they are saying we won’t out earn our parents [the first generation in American history to not surpass the generation before it], and with obesity rates rising, they are saying that pretty soon we will be dying at a younger age then our parents. To put it bluntly—now is a scary time to be a twenty-something.
So we run to the familiar, because in movies and TV shows we can pretend it’s a better day. We can pretend we are still little and all that potential we were promised still exists, because it beats the alternative—our parents [unknowingly] lied to us.
The thing is, that there is a line between escapism and pretending we are in that better day, the fantasy of The Sunscreen Song if you will, and the exploitation of our youth. That line is being crossed, and we seem to be okay with it. Before I make my point please remember that I am one for nostalgia—I made one of my best friends from college watch Never Ending Story [which was way better at 5 then 25--sorry Hilary] because she had never seen it, I sometimes think I would trade my cell phone for my pager circa 1999, and I long for the days of a good mixed tape complete with radio DJ’s talking because you let the tape roll to long. That being said, I understand that those things need to be left in the past. They are fun to remember and reminisce about, but that does not mean that we need to recreate them. An example-- I just finished reading Sweet Valley Confidential, a book that picks up 10 years after Sweet Valley High [and ignoring the entire Sweet Valley University series?] this book which was said to be written for the fans, was clearly written for the author to make money—it didn’t even make sense. I felt as though a piece of my childhood had been ripped out from me and crushed into a million pieces. That’s the thing with a lot of these remakes of 90s era pop culture. They are cheap replicas of what used to be that are not viable in a world that is.
On the Urban Outfitters website they have a dress, they call it their “90’s Vintage Dress” [I may buy it but that is besides the point—I like vintage things], that name says it all. It is okay if we wear, or consume the 90s as long as we realize that its vintage—it’s from a world that we no longer exist in. My generation [and I am just as guilty of this nostalgia] has to grow up. We need to realize that we are not getting the world we promised, and that crawling back into a decade that is no more, when things were far more rosy is not the answer. Instead, we need to take this new world into our hands and move forward. Our parents lied to us, but they did not mean too. If they had a crystal ball they would have told us the truth or tried their hardest to change it. But they can’t—we can. There was one truth that they did tell us—we are the future, so it’s up to us what happens next.