Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The world has a nostalgia problem, short-term nostalgia problem. At first I thought maybe it was a problem exclusive to my generation. After all, how else do you explain the reemergence of leggings, Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, etc? But every generation has this problem, there are countless baby boomers that can’t let go of the psychedelic music of their hey-day, and hell, all those old people will still tell you war stories if you’ll listen. (Of course it’s interesting the differences in the things that the generations nostalgiasize, but that’s a different topic.)
I have realized recently though that it’s not just a matter of generational nostalgia for glory days past. The collective culture is in love with looking back (but not too far back and not to critically). I don’t have the real answer as to why this is, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that we’ve run out of new ideas. This has been the case with music and movies for years, the amount of sequels, re-makes, and covers or re-appropriation of other media into new forms (the movie based on the play, based on the book) just keeps growing.
Recently though we seem to have a sick nostalgia for tragedy, and not with any good purpose either because the tragedies that we nostalgiasize are either pop culture-y ones, or are simply regurgitations.
The 40th Anniversary of the Summer of Love
Really? This is a thing that deserves three floors of the Whitney Museum and countless magazine features? A bunch white people took a lot of drugs, had a lot of sex, and gave the figurative finger to the “man.” Forty years ago. Jesus. What about the civil rights struggles and riots, or what about what’s happening now?
The 10th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Diana
I never really got why anyone in England, much less in America cared about Princess Diana when she was alive. But holding huge memorials 10-years after her and her rich boyfriend died? But she was such a good person! Kind-of. Yes, she did good things, but that was part of her job. Mostly she looked pretty and wore fancy dresses, and lived a very, very, very opulent life from the money of the people of her country (including of course the working poor, since the royal family are paid with tax money).
There are thousands of people living and dead that have made vastly more significant contributions to the lives of oppressed people, yet they get no spotlight. Princess Diana was the Angelina Jolie of 1997, a celebrity who wasn’t 100% self absorbed and therefore was a god.
The 6th Anniversary of 9/11
Yes, 9/11 was a tragedy. And yes it certainly changed ‘merica. It was a scary mess, and losing someone in such a senseless way is probably something that you don’t get over ever, no matter how many years pass. So as a nation and as individuals, sure we should “Never Forget.” Just like we remember the Alamo and Pearl Harbor, right?
The problem is I think we aren’t remembering it in the right way. Throwing a pity party year after year and naming things “freedom” while there’s still a huge hole in the ground and more people have died in the mess of a war that we started in the name of 9/11 than died that day, isn’t honoring anyone, least of all the people they are memorializing.
And in all this looking back, still very few bother to ask why it happened to begin with. In 40 years will the historic memory of 9/11 be a bunch of tacky American flag kitsch and shit called “freedom” instead of the real ways that our greed fucked up the world? Probably.
We can’t look forward, we can’t look at the present, and we don’t know what to look at when we look back.
(Photo: probably one of the only good things that MTV has produced in the last decade, from a series of ads about AIDS, hunger and poverty that we banned)