March 11th, 2018 by Proprietor
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It tests your perceptions. What was cool when you were 10 or in your teens, might not be so cool when you are an adult. Sometimes the fond memories are best left untouched. In some cases, reviewing those memories only reenforces why something was good or fun.
There are many things in my past that I get nostalgic for. I grew up at the start of the major video game era. I spent untold numbers of quarters in video games like Pac Man, Centipede, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Defender, the list can go on and on. Now all the games are available in some form or other in emulators on consoles or computers or hundreds are loaded into a stand up unit that imitates the old arcade game cabinets.
When I have watched documentaries about the era of video games, like King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters or Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade or recently, Atari: Game Over, there is some sadness or joy brought up by these documentaries. That is nostalgia. The joy being recalling a childhood time in an arcade, spending all those quarters to never get further than a few levels beyond the first level. Many would say it was a waste of time. For modern children it was like chasing a barrel hoop down a hill and trying to keep it from falling down using a stick to guide it.
Even sitting with friends and playing a rousing game of Warlords, because it could be a four player game was awesome. Everyone fought over playing one particular position, the lower left, because with the right quick spin on the paddle, you could arc the ball to where someone could not stop you, and the upper right player was instantly killed. There were better gaming consoles at the time, but nothing was as awesome or widespread in popularity as the Atari 2600.
Many of the arcade games, like Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Frogger were reproduced, somewhat poorly for the Atari 2600. It was fun to play those games without spending the quarters. Even though the cartridges were about $20-$40 a piece depending on the game, but it was easy to go through a ten dollar roll of quarters in an arcade in less than an hour on Asteroids or Space Invaders. Saving up for the cartridge and playing the game hours on end saved lots of money. The arcade money could be spent on newer games.
Documentaries about toys, comic strips, and comics also bring about the nostalgia. Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, brought a sense of pride to my being a Star Wars fan and keeping all my toys into adulthood, only to sell them on eBay for some decent money. Though it is fun to remember walking into a store and seeing the peg wall full of action figures on blister cards is wonderful to recall. As is the joy of hours of play with the toys as a child.
Today, Star Wars figures are as ubiquitous as dinosaurs or plastic army men. Children seem to go through a Star Wars phase, then move on. In some ways it is sad to see something so incredibly life changing and wonderful in my childhood become just another phase for young people who could be my children.
There are still loyal collectors out there who spend plenty of money and have rooms full of the toys from the original release to the more modern movies. The evolution of action figures from being stiff arm and legs to having more poseability and the manufacturer’s willingness to produce 6″ versions give greater options for collectors. Though the die hard collector does not care and will buy everything. I admit to walking down toy aisles at stores from time to time to check out what is now out there. To some extent I envy the variety of choice the children have. Superhero toys that are near exact reproduction of characters on screen, to even 3-3/4″ scale figures that are extremely detailed. Lego versions that are very representative of the vehicles and characters and not clunky. Seeing all the toys, and realizing some child will have similar memories to me in the future makes me smile.
Dear Mr. Watterson was a documentary about Bill Watterson, who created the characters Calvin and Hobbes. A six year old boy with an over active imagination, and inflated sense of self importance, who saw his stuffed toy tiger as real. This was no pedestrian comic strip, and it added in hints of satire and politics that are genius and still ring true today. There is now an official Calvin and Hobbes website. I guess Mr. Watterson decided to break some form of silence. He has not broken into merchandising yet. A plush Calvin and Hobbes, please, or at least action figures. The complete collection of comic strips is well worth owning, the strips are still incredible and mind blowing today as when I first read them. There is some keen insight into human beings. Reading a Calvin & Hobbes strip from twenty plus years ago, and realizing how apropos it is to today’s world makes me realize Mr. Watterson was a genius. The comic strip is a classic, just because it stands the test of time, and can be very applicable to today’s life.
Comic books are another part of my childhood, and even adulthood. Though I no longer collect everything Marvel prints or any major titles from DC. It is still nice to see documentaries made about the history of comic books. Everyone credits Bob Kane as being the creator of Batman, but few people know of Bill Finger. Batman And Bill is a great documentary about a man’s quest to rectify an injustice, and get what is due to Mr. Finger’s heirs. It takes a twisting path and years of work, with possible dead ends, but the Dark Knight would be proud of the level of diligence, and work done for the pursuit of justice. I wrote a blog about this a while back.
Nostalgia motivates someone to sometimes purchase DVD sets or even bootlegs of television shows one loved when they were young only to realize you had bad tastes as a 12 year old. Yeah it was cool at 12, but not so cool, even downright painful to watch 30 years later. Because of Nostalgia I purchased Buck Rodgers In The 25th Century on DVD, and could not watch more than four episodes before I decide to sell the set on eBay. Gil Gerard was the coolest to me, and Erin Grey was gorgeous. Years later I ended up getting their autographs at a convention, mainly spurred by nostalgia. Those were the last autographs I got at a convention. Even though I had enjoyed getting autographs from people who were in Star Wars. I decided not to further destroy my memories and feelings of nostalgia by meeting the people whom starred in certain shows. Erin Grey though brought back some interesting feelings I had when I was twelve.
Battlestar Galactica and the sequel Galactica 1980 were also shows I ended up purchasing DVD sets for or downloading onto my Xbox 360. I managed to watch all of the episodes, but realized how cheesy those episodes were. Loren Green, who played Commander Adama was the only person to appear in both series. Both only lasted around one season. Unfortunately the story telling became better near the end, but was not enough to save the shows.
I have plenty of complete collections of shows I loved when I was a child, but because of experience with the sort of disappointment or realization of a show not being as good as I remember it, I have yet to watch them. Sometimes knowing you have them is just as good as actually watching them. You have the nostalgia without the disappointment.
Ultimately, it comes down to distance, and experience. Those things kill off certain nostalgic feelings when rewatching old television shows. Though there are just some shows that seem to be timeless, and bring back the same joy one had when first watching. I have posted numerous snarky and a little off center blogs about the Brady Bunch. So many that I made a separate category for them, 49 at the last count, and I will probably post the 50th in the future.
It makes me wonder what the next several decades of my life will bring. Thirty years from now, will I look back with nostalgia at Game of Thrones? Will I think about how awesome the comics I read 30 years ago are? Will I still have the same sense of nostalgia for the Brady Bunch? Will I still love the Legion of Superheroes? What about Calvin & Hobbes?
Thanks for stopping by.