Meta-Nostalgia

So I, like every other human being on Earth, love Stranger Things on Netflix. While I haven’t finished it, everything about it is so pitch perfect for a show that is a homage to the 1980’s and horror movies.

Wait, what? No, it’s a good freaking show. It doesn’t really… need… to…

What is it with the goddamn 80’s? I was born in the middle of the decade, as opposed to living through it, but I lived through the 90’s. While the 90’s had some high points- lots of good music- it also featured shoulder-pad heavy fashion, so, I dunno. I don’t need to go back.

stranger-things-80.jpg

where have I seen this poster before

If Stranger Things was alone in the constant 80’s fawning, OK, whatever, but man, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting 80’s nostalgia (I do not understand this expression, but I love it. WHY ARE WE SWINGING DEAD CATS?). Lord knows nostalgia is a funny thing, and makes us love things that aren’t really as great as we remember them, but when there is a show as good as Stanger Things, why is the comment over and over boy they sure nailed the look of the 80’s, along with supercuts that pair every shot they ‘paid homage’ to from the original movies.

 

More than just nostalgia, media is more frequently going for these meta references and jokes. I saw Poltergeist, too, gang. I don’t need another kid slowly touching a TV. Because what’s the point of that? I enjoyed the meta-criticism of Deadpool, sending up superhero movies. But in a dramatic presentation like Stranger Things, what purpose does it serve? Because at that point, it’s just using the emotional currency of the viewer’s nostalgia to make them buy in, based on that emotion, rather than the substance of the show.

It’s better, for my money, to produce something original that reminds the audience of something they love, rather than simply clone it and shove it in front of them. A reader told them 3024 reminded them of Twilight Zone, even though there is very little crossover, and it was one of the biggest compliments I received. I don’t say that to brag (much), but in the context of this discussion, I would rather evoke nostalgia via someone being reminded of the thing they love by an original concept, instead of recycling another one.

Stranger Things is more than strong enough to stand on its own two feet, and it does, which is why it’s so widely loved. But the amount of attention that gets paid to every reference, easter egg and haircut honestly takes away from what makes that show work on a basic storytelling level.

DESR

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