Memory, Our Faithful Friend

The past passes. One of the reasons behind our society’s love of nostalgia deals heavily with the idea that if there is a return to the past, there will continue to be a future. It is a reassuring notion to know that when you see something set in the “ye olde times,” no matter how dark it is,  that civilization will continue until time catches up with the present. The uncertainty of the future drives our thoughts backward instead of forward. We cannot imagine, with any assurance, what tomorrow or ten years from now will look like, but any period entertainment will remind us of our accomplishments as a society — filling us with pride over the difficulties we have overcome and the science that we have invented. Reassuring us that humanity is, on the whole, a species of survival. That the problems humanity encounters can be conquered in the face of an unpromised sunrise.

If you need a bump in audience frame your entertainment through the lens of by-gone, easily recognizable era to gain the need exposure to help you keep creating. We love being reminded of our greatness as a species, even if it does bring up troublesome aspects of our past – the audience can brush off that old wickedness as something not from the present, rarely does it stick that many of the problems of the past remain in today’s society. They are mistakes of a less enlightened time rather than a lingering sickness that needs attention.

This nostalgia notion is the same time of circular logic many politicians use to garner votes. By returning, to yesteryear think we are promised a tomorrow because we made it to today. Paradoxically, they don’t see fault in their thought. You cannot bring back the past any more than you can advance into the future. The revisitation of the past would mean institutionalizing, again, the same problems of the past. In essence, any person offering a return to ideologically is offering their listeners a hamster on a wheel proposition and knowing the solutions to problems that the reenactions of policy that society has already solved. It is the same as a professional theatre company only producing a single show over a ten-year run. Sure the faces might change in the cast, but the same story is told. There is no forward momentum to this thought, which is what some want. The deification of nostalgia creates an audience ill-equipped to deal with new concepts in entertainment. In a way, it is a form of monopolizing the market. If enough creators only produce nostalgic works then when a creator attempts something not reliant on glorifying the past, the audience rejects the new work opting for the safety net of nostalgia.

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