I once read a scholarly theory (I found it on Tumblr) that says the reason our generation is deeply entrenched in nostalgia is because we experienced so much rapid technological innovation in such a short period of time. For us, what some may call “the recent past” actually feels like a distant memory.
And there’s no denying that this generation is a sucker for nostalgia. From “Uptown Funk’s” throwback success to the resurgence of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears’ double-denim fashion trend, kids these days just love looking back at simpler — and some might dare to say better — times.
But if you’re like me and you’re kind of over the nostalgia train, ready to purchase a one-way ticket out of regressive dreamland, I have found a foolproof, three-step process that will effectively ruin all your precious childhood memories — at least, the ones relating to pop culture.
Step 1: Reminisce
Before you are able to crush all your naive childhood memories, you need to build them back up. Take some time to binge watch your favorite Disney Channel Original Movies. Listen to some S Club 7. Put on some Timberlands and dig out your Aaron Carter discography. Spend three and a half hours trying to remember the password to your Neopets account. Crimp your hair, put it in a side pony and cake on that blue glitter eyeshadow. You look like a star! Better yet, you look like Pluto, which was still a planet back then.
Get your friends involved! Have a throwback party. Surf the net and have an all-night jam session to your favorite childhood pop hits. To recreate classic slumber party vibes, lip-sync to “That’s What Girls Do” by No Secrets and *67 the cute boy with the flippy haircut who lives in the apartment above you. So scandalous!
Step 2: Research
At this point, if the memories come flooding back, you feel like a kid again and you’re content with living the rest of your life in an ignorant dream space where Michelle Tanner is played by one person and the twins in “The Parent Trap” are played by two, then stop after step one. You are far less jaded than I am and deserve to revel in your innocence for as long as possible.
But if you want to know what your beloved preteen heartthrob is up to nowadays, instead of remembering him as a frosted blond, metallic jumpsuit-wearing, prepubescent angel sent from the Tiger Beat Magazine gods, then buckle your seatbelts and start Googling.
This is where things can go horribly wrong.
Here are just a few things that I was personally disappointed to discover during the “Research” stage of the nostalgia-crushing process:
Aaron Carter still tours regularly — mostly college campuses — and brings two girls onstage each night, serenading them with “I’m All About You” at the same time, then ending the song by trying to make out with them both. I always knew he was a true romantic.
Myspace has completely reformatted, so all of your HTML-edited, glitter-text layouts and edits are gone. Also, the entire website has horizontal scrolling. Because that’s totally practical.
Lalaine, who played Miranda on “Lizzie McGuire,” was arrested for possession of crystal meth. I guess we know what dreams are REALLY made of.
The third “Cheetah Girls” movie (the one without Raven) was not a collective, worldwide hallucination. It does, in fact, exist in the Disney Channel cinematic universe.
Step 3: Reconsider
While this news can be shocking at first glance, it gives us a chance to reconsider the remnants of our pasts in the context of the future.
Sure, things have kind of gone off the rail, but that’s a part of growing up.
Looking back on the past is important because it reminds us where we’ve been and how we got to where we are today. And looking at the conditions of the present helps to keep us grounded in the forward motion of art and music and style and life.
And so what if Carter didn’t really beat Shaq? Who cares whether or not Shia LaBeouf is an actual cannibal?
A person’s future choices and actions shouldn’t affect the way that their songs, shows and movies used to make you feel. Everybody makes mistakes — everybody has those days.
Except Hilary Duff. She’s goddamn perfect.
Rosemarie writes Monday’s column on popular culture. Contact her at [email protected].