On Nostalgia And Biases

“Never Trust Anyone Whose Favorite Movie Came Out After They Turned 21”.

I saw someone post this once on Twitter, and I was aghast.

(I wasn’t. I just like the word “aghast” and need to work it into more things. “Rob, what did you think of your niece’s 2nd birthday party?” “I was aghast!” See? Always fun)

Anyway, I started thinking, “Well how true can that be? Most of my favorite movies have come out since my 21st birthday”. Is it really that uncommon to find a favorite once you are an adult?

Feeling very smug about myself, I postulated this idea to several of my friends–about 15 or so–expecting at LEAST a 50/50 split, if not bigger numbers in my favor.

Literally EVER SINGLE ONE OF THEM said yep… their favorite movie came out before they turned 21.

Huh. So I guess it turns out I am the weirdo.

(Now I’m posting a poll on Twitter to see what the bigger results are. Stay tuned!)

That’s only been up for a few hours, but… it seems pretty definitive for the sample size.

It’s crazy to me, personally, but when I look at my favorite movies ever, most are made well after my 21st birthday (which happened in 2001 because I am old).

Hey. Hey! HEY. We’re not… quiet down. We’re not here to talk about my taste, okay?

So I know that says it’s a fluid Top 25, but those were the original Top Ten before I expanded the list a bit. So let’s say those are MY favorite movies ever made. We’ve got two that came out before I was born, sure, but the other EIGHT are all from AFTER I turned 21.

Which is very much apparently not the case for most people!

So I got to thinking.

We live in a society very in love with the idea of our own past. Everything old comes back around. I remember when I was a teenager in the late 90’s and saw 1970’s era style coming back because the people who were the defining market group of the day reminisced fondly of that time and wanted to be reminded of when they were happier. I got it. I bought a pair of those round sunglasses. I was hip.

Do we still call those Lennon glasses? I was told they were called Lennon glasses.

Do we… are they still a thing? Do we call them anything?

I Googled “Lennon Glasses”, and these came up, so at least I don’t feel crazy.

In the very late 2000’s, we saw a similar thing happen with the 1980’s. And even though that is still more or less a thing, we are seeing a lot more 90’s and turn-of-the-millennium influence nowadays because, you guessed it, the people in the prime of their spending years and market influence are those who were children in those days.

I’m going to get off track here, sure, but the 80’s and 90’s were relatively good times for middle class America. I can see why we recall the days of our childhood with love in our hearts. Will the younger Zoomers feel the same about the mid-2000’s? With 9/11 and the perpetual War On Terror and everything… will their youth fill them with nostalgia?

But then I remember what I said about the 1970’s making their own comeback, and yeah… it’s not like that was a great time in U.S. history, either. So what do I know? The thing about your childhood is that you have no point of reference. Someone who grew up in the shadow of 9/11 isn’t going to have the ability to say “Wow, that was a bad time”. They don’t know what growing up in the 80’s was like.

I can sit here and say “I can’t believe people reminisced for the 60’s and 70’s! Vietnam and political assassinations and Nixon and gas shortages, oh my!”, but you know what? I wasn’t there. It’s not for me to judge what those people’s childhoods were to them.

People in the 1970’s DID have The Monster At The End Of This Book, so I’ll give them that, at least.

Anyway, I’m meandering!

Shortly after seeing the original Twitter post that started my thinking about all of this, I saw another. It asked people what the best decade for cinema was. You know what immediately sprung to mind? The 1980’s.

And as I scrolled through the comments, I saw I wasn’t alone. There were a TON of responses for the 80’s! The 90’s and the 70’s were also very popular.

We can all agree it wasn’t the 2000’s, though, right? Torture porn and comedies that were wall-to-wall gay jokes as far as the eye could see.

(Also, I’m REALLY offending everyone who grew up in the 2000’s, right? Fuck yo’ decade! But seriously, at least we aren’t having our formative years NOW, right? God damn, imagine being a 2020’s kid? We can all agree on that, right?)

I seriously have no focus this article I have no idea what is wrong with me send help

ANYWAY, after thinking about it for a few seconds, I thought… is now the best decade for cinema? From 2010 or so until the present?

It certainly seemed like it. For my money, movies on the whole are better now than they ever have been! Just the variety of films being made and the rise of indie studios and streaming services and the representation among filmmakers/actors and, you know, the MCU which I adore with all of my soul. I’d definitely say you could argue the Best Movies Of The 1980’s might be superior to a list of Best Movies Of The 2010’s, but top to bottom? I’d say the current era has to be better.

But then again, as you can see from my shock over the 21st Birthday division, I’m less married to the flicks of my youth than others. So who knows?

But even then… let’s ASSUME I’m right.

(I am, but still, let’s just say we’re assuming anyway)

If one decade is more top heavy, but another has more overall balance, which is better?

See, this is where I envy my wife, who thinks the entire idea of making lists and worrying about whether A is better than B are really stupid ventures. Like what you like, she would say! What’s the point in worrying about how anything stacks up against anything else?

Clearly, she doesn’t spend a lot of time on my website! Doing stuff like that is 80% of my day!

To be fair, she will also knife you if you say any decade had better music than the 90’s, so she is a hypocrite

It’s all subjective, and that’s the fun of this stuff. At no point in this article and I am trying to convince you that I am right for having a favorite movie (Hot Fuzz) that came out when I was 25. Or that you are wrong if your favorite movie came out when you were ten. Hell, that’s WHY I make lists and silly Top Tens; I think the beauty of the world is in how people can see the same media and have entirely different experiences. It’s such a fantastic human phenomenon. Lists are great gateways to discussion and the sharing of experiences!

So I want YOU to tell ME: How old were you when your all-time favorite movie came out? And what decade do you think was best for cinema?

Also, I just kind of blew by the fact that anything before the 1970’s existed, yes. Maybe the 30’s was the best decade for film! It gave us the Universal horror monster flicks. And The Wizard Of Oz? Maybe? I’m not sure when old movies happened. You could tell me Casablanca came out in 1920 or 1955 and they both sound equally likely to me.

And now, as a last thought, let me prove a little of my own hypocrisy: I used to–and I mean, like, within the last ten years–be a guy who really liked and defended current music. I would listen to the radio and try to stay abreast of modern musicians. People would say “Man, this modern era of music is NOTHING compared to [era when the hypothetical person here was a child]”. And I would defend the hits of today and raise their merits.

The older I get?

Man, I pretty much only listen to 80’s music now.

So I cling to what my reptile brain liked when I was a kid sometimes, too.

Until next time, everyone… take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your mental health!

One thought on “On Nostalgia And Biases

  1. I feel like it should be noted that 80s movies and shows were often nostalgic of the 50s or early 60s. Back to the Future, Stand By Me, Wonder Years, Happy Days (although only the last few seasons were aired in the 80s), etc. And like your example of people being nostalgic of the 70s, the 50s weren’t exactly a fun time either. And yeah, the 80s and 90s had its fair share of problems despite being currently propped up as fu. decades where everyone went to the mall and wore flannel. It’s really cyclical.

    Liked by 1 person

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