Nerd armageddon: the danger of nostalgia
Author: warren bates | contributor
The anger. The hurt. The disbelief. Nerd Armageddon is happening and nobody can stop the new Ghostbusters film…not with this new team at least. For many fans of the original franchise, the upcoming reboot looks appalling. In short, thousands of adults are screaming online that they will absolutely not eat their peas when they have only been offered desert. They are free to leave the table, but they will continue to complain throughout desert without even taking a bite. This phenomenon of adults acting like kids is brought to you by nostalgia, or “Nostalgia: Because Me.”
Humorist John Hodgeman says that nostalgia is the most toxic impulse. It is the feeling, and so often the belief, that the world used to be better than it is now. If you find yourself agreeing with Hodgeman, you might also be one to say that nostalgia contributes to selective memory about the past. Anyone who correctly remembers the ‘90s, for example, thanks each and every day that brings them further away from that crater of a decade. The ‘80s were even worse. If nostalgia is toxic, then nerds on the Internet are the gas bombs, and it is the hard-working, creative people taking risks that have to put up with the stink.
Now if you are a “nerd,” you may be aware that nostalgia comes from two Greek words; “nóstos” (homecoming) and “álgos” (pain). If you are an even bigger “nerd,” you may also be aware that Marvel and Sony are bringing us yet another Spider-Man movie, this time with the subtitle Homecoming. The rest of you, say it with me so we can process it. Spider-Man: Homecoming. Yes, it is happening again. For the third time in ten years, we will get to see a different Peter Parker sling webs and quips for 90 minutes before we brush the popcorn off of ourselves and go back to the parts of our lives that actually count. What a time to be alive, especially if you long for the time you were alive in the past.
If you remember ‘80s cult classic Teen Wolf you know that Michael J. Fox not only dunked a basketball in slow motion glory, you also recall the use of ‘fag’ in a lighthearted punch line. In Monster Squad, a team of boys save their town from a gang of legendary baddies, but also blackmail the girl next door with naked pictures; yet, all anyone seems to remember is “Wolfman’s got nards.” The original Ghostbusters offers us nothing so depressing, but it is still privileged to a legacy far beyond what it deserves. That is how classic movies often work, and for some reason, ‘80s movies in particular.
If you are a die-hard Ghostbusters fan, you clearly disagree, and you are welcome to, but here is some advice that will help you when you are out in sunlit public: not everything is made for your enjoyment. Even the things you feel you have claimed for yourself. The goggles that Kate McKinnon wears in the immensely disliked trailer are a sick yellow shade, and I have to say they are totally hardcore. They look cynical but upbeat, and I think she might be a character I will enjoy watching. I like Melissa McCarthy, even in weaker films she so often stands out as the strongest part. In actual fact, this cast is irrefutably hilarious.
That, to me, was the point of Ghostbusters – four bright comic talents doing their best with a perfectly acceptable script. I cannot imagine anything being more clever than key-goes-in-hole innuendo, but here is hoping a few cheap sexual gags happen. The main sore-point for people who are looking forward to seeing these stars in the film is their treatment online. While many who dislike the idea of the reboot do so out of some weird principle, the misogyny that cradles this backlash is undeniable. Keep saying it looks bad because the CGI effects look cheap, but last time I checked, the stop-motion animation in the original was, at best, quaint.
Sometimes you do not get the desert you want. Sometimes Mom gives you an apple instead of pudding. If you stop crying long enough to try the apple, then at least you can make an informed opinion about why you are crying. The apple is good for you though, and it is a change of pace for those who, contrary to your own belief, do not want pudding. Hey, you might even enjoy it.