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The silly side of nostalgia
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The silly side of nostalgia

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Andrea Grubaugh

Andrea Grubaugh - Muscatine Journal Reporter

Nostalgia is a funny thing, and other times it may seem like it’s something we’re constantly rolling our eyes at. Sure, sometimes it can be fun to look back at stuff and remember those feelings you had for it, whether or not you’re donning rose-colored glasses while doing so, and claim it was the Best Thing Ever!

But between all of the remakes, reboots and sequels, it may also seem like the past and the things we love or used to love is just something that should be improved on for new audiences or should just marketed over and over again for a quick buck. Occasionally, however, there is a happy medium between admiring and pandering.

Every once in a while – like a couple weeks ago – I’ll randomly remember something that I used to like for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s a show or movie or book, but more often than not it’s a song. Funnily enough, the song that had popped into my head was one of the many from the still-fairly famous Disney Channel trilogy of movies, High School Musical (HSM).

Now, I wasn’t a HUGE HSM fan, but it certainly enjoyed it for the couple years that it was a thing. I had watched the first and third movies, I think I may have had a couple of the dolls, I was lucky enough to win tickets for the HSM ice show and, of course, I had the CDs. Curious and having nothing better to listen to as I finished up the last couple Journal articles I had to write, I pulled up a HSM playlist on my phone and let it play as I typed away.

Honestly, they were just as cheesy as I remembered. Over-the-top, silly, but still catchy as ever – as evident by the fact that I could remember most of the lyrics pretty well. That’s not to say that songs like ‘Bop to the Top’ and ‘Getcha Head in the Game’ are at the height of musical achievement, they’re definitely not. If someone wanted to seriously critique and pick apart these songs, I’m sure I could agree with most of their criticisms (even if I didn’t understand why they would want to do this in the first place).

But admitting this doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of these songs, far from it. When I listen to them, part of me can smile and remember how much fun I had listening to these songs and watching the movies while another part of me can laugh at how cheesy and ridiculous the movies were. Like with reboots that are actually well made and well done, the past and the present are allowed to live and co-exist in harmony. There’s nostalgia, but it’s not blinding. It’s just fun!

The same thing happened a few years ago in college when my roommate noticed my Yu-Gi-Oh DVDs in my collection. We had both loved this anime as kids, and honestly, watching it and laughing at all the cheesy dubbing and nonsense strategies that the characters used was some of the most fun I had with her. Surprisingly, the show still had its moments whenever there was genuine emotion or a moment that was still cool after all these years, but it was still enjoyable to make fun of. I still love the anime and own the DVDs, I just have two different reasons for doing so now – for the nostalgia and the memories, and for the enjoyment I can get out of it in the present.

Considering the situation we’re currently in and will probably be in for a while longer, I think we all could use a good laugh. So, next time you’re trying to decide what to watch or stream or listen to in the background, pick something from your past. It doesn’t matter if you were only a casual fan of it, and it doesn’t even have to be that great. Just pick something you remember liking and give it another try. Maybe it’ll be sillier or dorkier than you remember, but maybe that’s the point.

We all want to be entertained, to find great stories and characters and get invested in the latest pop-culture phenomenon, but sometimes a casual trip down memory lane and a couple hours full of laughter is all we really need.

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