Nostalgia

Truth - We can learn a lot from the past but it can also serve as a hindrance to our futures. Many a person has been attributed to saying that the most dangerous ideology is resistance to change and claiming tradition as if things have always been done a certain way. Life is inherently change. No two days are the same and things never happen the same way twice. We can yearn for the last all we want but at the end of the day a new day comes and we are forced to keep going. Whether we are prepared or not the world around us becomes anew each and everyday. We have the option to either embrace it or stay trapped replaying the past. Nostalgia has it's time and place. 

"Our culture's obsession with vintage objects has rendered us unable to separate history from nostalgia. People want heart. They want a chaser of emotion with their aesthetics." Sloane Crosley

 
It seems like there's a strong population of people, at least those that I interact with, whether in person or through social media, that are hell-bent on bringing back the 90s. The teased out hair, abuse of denim, and gaudy accessories though are so dated. Hollywood seems to have followed suit and has pumped out remake, reboot, and reimagined old stories. There really is nothing new under the sun but that's probably because no one seems to be trying to be innovative these days. I get it. Our pasts, especially our childhoods, give us comfort, make us feel safe, and are all too familiar to us. The uncertainty of the future (or is show business, how critics and audiences alike will react to something) can be absolutely terrifying. What is even scarier is allowing fear or a longing for what already was to stop us from charging forward into a future we have the opportunity to make. It is an amorphous thing that is to be shaped by our words, actions, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It can be just about anything we want it to be if we choose to take a dynamic role in making it so. With or without us at the helm it is coming (*cough register to vote, do your civic duty, and be informed as you do so *cough) so why not take control of the world we'll have to live in instead of our stories be decided for us.

The 90s were arguably a great period of time but history is all relative. It all depends on your perspective and who you were. We can all agree that the lower cost of daily essentials like groceries, clothing, and gas made living on a budget easier but there were also larger social issues. I know of the Rodney King beating that led to the LA Riots, the OJ Simpson trial that demonstrated the ineffectiveness of our judicial system, and the Y2K that had people fearing for their lives among other things. People recall the pop culture with wholesome family TV which was good and well. I too got a good laugh from TV's favorite families and all those classic cartoons. What else I did notice, especially now, is how unrealistic it all was. A single story was portrayed on TV and that did not, and continues to not be the only narrative of families. Representation was woefully stifled and diversity was severely limited - mind you that was only 20 or so years ago.

I like living in a time where (while we are still pushing to get a broader range of people on screen) women are not defined by their relationships with men, people of color play more than the comic relief, queer people have storylines unrelated to their sexuality, and religion doesn't have to be taboo. Gigantic cellphones, pagers, slap bracelets, and sugar-crazed snacks cannot come close to the advances in science, technology, and society that have emerged. Think of the larger ramifications for education, the economy, and intergenerational collaboration - our world has been diversified, information is no longer limited to the privileged few, and access has been extended to so many. Most of all there seems to be more conversation about the hard stuff, our dark inner thoughts, what we go through in addition to the silly videos, trends, memes, and news. Nostalgia is a feeling that should come and go, not stay forever.
 
Recently I've had many a conversation about going back to simpler times and each time I'm left contemplating. I think what people mean is that they want back what they were certain of which understandable and I like reminiscing from time to time too but I like who I am now much more. It's unreal how much has changed from when I was in high school to my tumultuous college years, to less than a year from that experience and who I am now. This is the version of myself that I most like. I think of all those musicians who have stood the test of time through their strategic reinventions of themselves. Yes they are the are same person but their content and output have changed to keep up with the times. That's we, as non-superstar regular folk, can emulate as well. Sometimes it's cutting your hair, buying new clothes, or changing up your car, other times it's moving to a new place, making new friends, or taking a leap of faith in a profession you're passionate about but are unsure of. I personally am not okay with relishing in the past when I can be enjoying the present. I want to be happy now, here, currently not constantly comparing what is to what was or what could be. I yearn for this space, this place, and all the faces around me. I want to live in the moment.

It's time to wake up (San Francisco) and smell the artisan off-brand coffee. Every generation wants to go back to their youth but we're still in ours and wallowing in our wonder years is not doing us any good. If you want to play outside, go ahead and do it. If you miss board games, play them to your heart's content. If you want to watch Digimon or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, you can. Don't fault the children of today for being attached at the hip to their devices, we can't actually know what effect it will have until they're doing growing up - noting the same could be said for us (and all those before us by their predecessors). Live and let live. Think back but save the comparisons. The yo-yo's, dunkaroos, and Hardy Boys adventures are classics but we are missing out if we don't take part in what's new. It's not all crap. It's just different, for you. For kids today, it's all they've ever known. It's not better or worse, just plain different. Put the nostalgia to rest will ya.
 
Fuller House Review: 3.7/5 Stars - I like pretty much the rest of the gaggle of 90s kids spent my Friday binge watching all 13 episodes of Netflix's continuation of America's most wholesome (*read traditionally white) family complete with orange soda, a Lunchable, and fruit roll-ups. I have to admit I enjoyed it overall. The catchphrases and 90s quips came to be a little much by the end of it though. It was great to see the cast together and aged well. They were some good laughs and the parallel moments were quite powerful. I appreciated the more adult tone and jokes thrown in. I did have many a qualm with it though. Too many of the plots were larger than life and out of control a la the trend now for kids TV where everyone has a superpower, secret, or is famous (Hannah Montana, That's So Raven, Phil of the Future). Why can't the family just be regularly dysfunctional like Good Luck Charlie, or Life with Derek. Pretty much the entirety of Stephanie's larger-than-life life - deejaying Coachella, singing at the Giants' game, etc. In fact the kids seem to be the most down to Earth while their parents/caretakers are living outrageous lives. The Bachelor style love triangle and Dancing With the Stars routines were weird seeing as the show was on Netflix and not ABC. Did anyone else find it hard to believe Steve became a podiatrist or it was just me? If the Tanners/Fullers are supposed to be middle class, where was the struggling, the budgeting, etc. not to mention that house and exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco (can you say gentrification).

Speaking of the setting, the lack of people of color was striking but even more so queer-identified people. It's 2016, can this family diversify their friend group please? I will not count the *spoiler alert - accidental man-on-man kiss and the intentional proposal one used just for cheap  yet effective laughs. I wanted more time for quieter more impactful moments like Stephanie's revelation about her diagnosis, DJ's late-husband, and the impact of Kimmy's husband's cheating. Don't get me started on the cultural appropriation with the Bollywood going away party and Fernando's problematic characterization as the sultry yet despicable Latin lover. Even the implied feminism is subverted by typecasting the leads as caricature, DJ as the grateful single-mom, Stephanie as the party-girl sister, and Kimmy as the odd one who masks her hardship with jokes. I appreciated the meta-jokes and self-awareness but some of them didn't land well and the Olsen twins shade was overdone. All in all, it was worthwhile to watch albeit not ground-breaking or really sending much of a message. Family is always there to help I guess, or perpetually meddle - but same difference. I'd watch a second season if they were deeper dives, actual character development, more screen time for the kids (especially Elias Harger as Max who is a revelation in his role), and a more diverse cast. Even Michelle had friends who were POCs (Tahj Mowry & Jurnee Smollett-Bell) back in the day - ah nuts. Check it out and relive your TGIF childhood, if only to know what everyone else is talking about until Chris Rock's Oscar night monologue on missing diversity. X

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