Why We’re Nostalgic

BY VICTORIA OSTERGAARD

Over the past few years, old treasures are reemerging again. Cartoons from the ’80s, such as “Jem and the Holograms” and “G.I. Joe,” are now being remade into cinematic movies. Popular characters such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Indiana Jones and the Star Wars heroes are being reincarnated as Legos, while television shows such as “Full House” and “Boy Meets World” from the ’90s are getting sequel series a whole decade later.

The trend has made its way to fashion, too. Styles such as the hippie-style boho dresses or Converse shoes are in shopping malls everywhere.

Michael Spoden, a collector of retro ’90s items, sees the concept of nostalgia as a way to respect art, especially in television shows, movies and video games.

“With these remakes of old shows and movies, sometimes you can look and see that it was only made to be a cash cow,” Spoden said. “But then there are those movies that you know the director respected the art and the original content.”

Spoden said the director just wants to share his vision with others and hopes the new generation will like the same thing he once did. “This can be applied to not just movies, but other things that we see that are coming back now,” he said.

Dr. Laurel End, psychology professor and chair of the psychology department at Mount Mary University, said people have a cognitive bias to reminisce.

“From a cognitive perspective, we do tend to remember more positive events because we have a positivity bias in our memories,” End said. “In some cases with reminiscing, because we focus on the positive, it makes the world seem like it’s a better place and allows us to escape a little bit from our immediate situation.”

Dr. Mary Lonergan-Cullum, a psychology professor at Mount Mary, said present-day television show creators try to remind us of the past to reinforce the idea that we are not so different today.

“Even when they reinvent television shows … they also try to modernize it and make a bridge between the past and the future,” Lonergan-Cullum said. “I think that is creative in terms of making those connections and seeing how we’re not so different from our historical counterparts.”

End said being nostalgic can provide you with new perspectives on the past and the present, giving you ideas about how to inspire change.

“Bridging the past with the present can result in some really creative things,” End said.

Spoden said nostalgia is a never-ending cycle.

“People are always going to bring back old things,” Spoden said. “We get attached because it’s just like procreation. It gives us a sense of continuity and immortality. So when you see something that is old and related to you, you have a sense that a part of yourself will always continue.”

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