When did I first realize that Generation-X nostalgia was a driving the entertainment industry off a cliff? First all the toys I'd broken were suddenly on the big screen, thrashing each other and cursing loudly. Then the cartoons I learned to masturbate while watching were being acted out - with gravitas - by real actors. Now it turns out Sir John Gielgud is being dug up, resurrected and having frog DNA injected, so he can play Baron Silas Greenback in the new Danger Mouse movie. When will it stop?
As a card-carrying member* of Generation X, I am sick of Gen-X pandering from the entertainment industry. I lived through the 1980s, and they licked the first time.
They were a vapid time: full of neon, preppies, pastels, bad hair, callow materialism and Debbie Gibson. (Actually, I kind of liked Debbie Gibson. But don't tell anybody.)
Signs of the apocalypse include a He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe movie - why, Vishnu, why? - and a new 90210 sequel series, featuring some of the original actors. (Okay, so 90210 isn't science fiction, except that Shannon Doherty is some sort of mutant.) Not to mention a G.I. Joe movie, a Transformers sequel, a Knight Rider TV show, an Escape From New York remake, a Robotech movie, a Bill And Ted remake, another new Terminator movie and TV show, an A-Team movie, a Greatest American Hero movie, a War Games sequel and a Wolverine movie - even though Wolverine first hit in the 1970s, he didn't really hit until the 1980s. Plus, the Brits are bringing me a new Blake's 7 show!
Not to mention, the comics industry is obsessed with the comics that were coming out during the exact month I realized you're not supposed to act impressed by your first real kiss. Marvel is putting out a series that's actually called 1985, and the whole point is: it takes place in 1985. Plus the big money shot in Secret Invasion #1 is all the Marvel superheroes, looking like their 1980s counterparts, stepping off a spaceship as if they've been away for 20 years. And every DC comic for the past three years has been a rehash of Crisis On Infinite Earths. And did DC really publish a new Outsiders comic, or did I just hallucinate it?
Not to mention that they're using the magic of modern technology to put out a new Mega Man game that looks totally retro (i.e., crappy) and 8-bit. And you can actually buy an Atari 2600 controller with games that look just as crufty as they did when I drank 10 liters of coke and conquered Adventure.
As Doris Lessing says in her science fictional Canopus In Argos series, nostaglia means "longing for what has never been." Much of Lessing's work is about the use of nostalgia to poison people, drawing people into supporting bad wars and worse policies and regressing everyone into pliant babies. Speaking of which, they're totally redoing the Canopus series except this time there'll be a talking tea-kettle named Naughty.
The other morning when I woke up, Kevin Feige, Brad Grey and Jeff Zucker were gathered around my bed, holding little mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows and replicas of the Wonder Woman pajamas I used to wear. "We're bringing it all back!" Kevin Feige said. "It's 1986 all over again!" Jeff Zucker said. "That day you ate ten boxes of nachos and swigged half a bottle of Malibu until you passed out marinating in your own stomach acid and pancreas squeezings? It'll be just like that!" I tried to explain that I didn't really want to relive those years, and the greatest antidote to lingering nostalgia is to see all of the plastic castles of youth rebuilt anew.
"But it'll all be a hundred times better this time, thanks to CG!" Paramount's Brad Grey jumped up and down. "Just look at this new Airwolf pilot, where the super-helicopter is also an ipod, and it's got the brain of a self-help guru inside it, and it'll travel back in time and make your junior prom not suck. And it's in love with Tina Majorino from Veronica Mars! Also, the CG can make it so the people who only pretended to like you in high school really did like you!" I had to dive out the window before they could show me the pilot for a new series that mashed up Manimal and Perfect Strangers, where a guy's cousin turns out to have a funny accent and animal powers.
I had to duck out the window, still wearing my non-footie pajamas, to escape from the bombardment with pop detritus my mom threw out when I was a teenager. They chased me down Haight St., waving posters for their new reality TV series that blends The Big Chill with Cherry 2000: The Big Cherry Chill, where old friends gather, with their malfunctioning sexbots in tow, and listen to the music of their youth: Depeche Mode. I dove into a bong store to seek refuge (Haight St. is pretty much all bong stores - I blame nostalgia) but the guy in the store was one of those new cyber-preppies, obsessively checking his friends network on the new Preppie Handbook-themed version of Facebook. It was actually worse than being pandered to by Jeff Zucker.
In the end, I had to surrender. They tucked me in, fluffed my pillows, put me in the Wonder Woman PJs, and snuck me some weed. It was just like when I faked sick at age 15. Then they put the portable TV at the foot of my bed and showed me the director's cut of Speed Racer, which is ten hours long and turns pornographic right before Christina Ricci's skin falls off and the Mach-6 starts only going backwards. And hey. As I drifted into a warm place, feeling as though I could just wet myself right here in the bed and Brad Grey would clean it up for me, I had a stab of memory: being annoyed, in the late 80s, whenever the fuck the 20th anniversary of the Summer Of Love was (1986? 1989? No clue) and being annoyed by all the crappy 1960s nostalgia, Star Trek was back and everything 1960s was back... and thinking: One day it'll be our turn. So hey, now it is. I might as well enjoy it. Right?
* Actually I lost my card. I'm a slacker, what do you want? If you actually still have your Gen-X card, you're not really Gen-X. If you've got your Gen-X card and you laminated it or covered it with mylar of some sort, you're probably actually part of the Net or Millennial generations. (Actually, according to this incredibly confusing and enlightening chart by Josh Glenn, I'm really part of the Generation That Ate Its Own Entrails, or GAIE for short.)