Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Does Pop Culture Make Us Feel Safe Again?

Through my Twitter feed at work, I discovered this New York Times article, “Harry Potter is their Peter Pan.” It talks about how Generation Y, roughly those born between 1980 and 2003 (though other articles say Gen Yers are born between 1977 and 1995, which I personally prefer. It’s hard to imagine I have anything in common with someone born in 2003), are latching on to nostalgic movements, i.e. Harry Potter, late- or early-‘90s reunited bands, etc. [Note: I also wrote a bit about Generation Y here.]

The reason? The current state of the world has us searching for the security blanket of pre-9/11 life, when we weren’t at war, our jobs (or our parents’ jobs) were secure, and everyone was just happier.

It’s an interesting theory. I could maybe chalk up my love for Harry Potter and Saved By the Bell (Zack Morris on Jimmy Fallon was more than funny; it was brilliant) to a return to innocence. It’s soothing to think about the time in my life when those things were new to me. When New Kids on the Block got back together last year, it gave my best friend in third grade and I a chance to be those screaming, sighing girls again – however, this time over e-mail: “Did you see them sing on the Today show” and “Donnie hasn’t changed a bit” – and remember our childhood of Jordan Knight t-shirts, collecting stickers and all-around elementary school fun. I connected with her on a level I haven’t been able to in a long time.

And that’s just it. I don’t think it’s necessarily all about remembering better, safer times. I think it’s more about reconnecting. It’s more about reliving, and not because our current lives are lacking, but just because it’s fun. It’s why I still watch Friends reruns. It’s why I can’t believe Ally McBeal could just be coming out on DVD. It’s why I love any reference to The Princess Bride. It’s why I’m nearly exasperated when little kids don’t know who Ramona is or the Muppet Babies (or why I love my brother and sister-in-law because my niece and nephews love Tom & Jerry reruns).

Those bands, books, TV shows made me who I am. And if I like who I am, then of course I’m going to like revisiting how I got here. And while I can somewhat push my favorite things on the little kids in my life (Christmas and birthday presents), I’m also curious to see what will form their personalities and who they become.

What bits of popular culture do you look back on fondly? What will the kids of today have to look back on, do you think?

1 comment:

Maega said...

I loved Where the Red Fern Grows (book), Transformers (brotherly influence), GI Joe (brother again!!), Punky Brewster- I wore the same high tops she had for like 2 years strait...
I have no idea what kids are into these days except Hanna Montana (yuck) and High School Musical... I agree with you- it is the things that take us back and help us remember what it felt like to be young- I love doing that too. Especially college days. Dharma and Greg is my all time fav!