Reconciling Nostalgia and Change

There has been a lot of upset in popular culture recently due to drastic changes in media that a lot of people are nostalgic about. Currently the millennial generation is starting to experience this, specifically referring to the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Spongebob Squarepants movie, Scooby Doo movie, and Pokemon games. Personally having been born in 2000, I grew up with these characters and franchises and they found a unique place in my heart and childhood. As time has gone on I’ve grown out of those interests, but I can still appreciate them for their quality and the importance they had on influencing me as a person. Even now I will testify that the first 4 generations of Pokemon games are timeless, and that the classic Scooby Doo movies are iconic due to their quality animation and plots. However, growing up means moving on, and as a result I haven’t kept up to date with a majority of the developments in those franchises. My attitude is simply this: I enjoyed them when I was young, and now it’s the younger generation’s turn to enjoy them, and I can’t blame the companies that have to change to fit this new demographic. However, I’ve recently given this change a lot of thought, and have come to a few conclusion about what it means for my nostalgia.

1st gen pokemon starters
1st Generation Pokemon
8th Generation Pokemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new 8th generation Pokemon games that came out earlier this month are especially interesting to me in exploring this question of reconciling change and nostalgia. Before it was released, it was announced that there would be no more National Pokedex, a staple in all of the previous games that allowed you to “catch them all”, the slogan of the entire franchise. The reason for its removal: they didn’t want to make models for all of the Pokemon. Obviously fans were disappointed and rightfully upset; like me, they had grown up playing these games and were used to this important feature of the game. Personally, I haven’t even played a Pokemon game since the 4th generation, and I’ve been a critic of the direction of the series for awhile.

Usually I criticize the declining creativity in creating new Pokemon; they have worse names, concepts, designs, and generally look more and more cartoonish and childish. People might rebuke me and argue that the original Pokemon were even less creative, specifically noting Rattata, a Pokemon that is essentially just a rat. However, I’m quick to point out that at least those designs were consistent and developed a believable and interesting world; compare the 1st generation Pokemon to the 8th generation Pokemon and you wouldn’t recognize them as both being from the same game. The reason for this is obvious to me, and it is simply that the series has aimed to cater to younger and younger children, not to the original fans like me who have grown out of playing the games. This trend is apparent in almost every other franchise that I remember from my childhood. I’ve come to the conclusion that change is inevitable, but I still don’t agree with how these companies tamper with my nostalgia. I wish the new media didn’t reflect so poorly on the franchises as a whole; it’s frankly embarrassing that something I hold in such high nostalgic regard is now ridiculous and childish. All I can really do is ignore the changes and focus on the original art that I fell in love with.

I think a lot of people from any generation can relate to these feelings; almost all franchises that endure undergo changes that break away from the original. A great example of this is the Star Wars movie franchise, which has been added on to drastically, more than 30 years after the original movies came out. It is not uncommon for those who saw the originals when they were young to be nostalgic for them and resent the new direction of the franchise. Many people boycott the new movies, or become harsh critics of them in a way that can ruin it for the younger generation that the new movies are targeted at. Personally, I think it’s unfair that those nostalgic people try to ruin it for everyone else, and that’s why I try to stay out of the debates over my favorite franchises changing. In the end, I’m just happy that I got to experience the golden age of entertainment in my childhood, and I’ll always appreciate the originals and my memories of them.

Enjoying Art on a Budget

As somebody who consumes a lot of art and media, I can tell you first-hand that it’s financially frustrating. I’ll hear about a book that I want to read, or an album that just came out, or a new video game that is stunning, and I always have to come to the same conclusion: I can’t have it all. This is easily attested to by the many lists on my phone of things I would love to get, and also by all the items saved for later in my Amazon shopping cart. Perhaps it’s something unique to me, but I doubt it; I think anybody who enjoys art wants something physical that can serve as a reminder of how great a work of art was. In this way, art is inherently nostalgic, and that’s a quality that I greatly appreciate, being a sentimental person myself. For example, the first video game I ever remember playing was Pokemon Sapphire on my brother’s GameBoy Advance; I absolutely loved it even though I had no idea what was going on (to be honest, I’m pretty sure I was stuck in Mauville the whole time because I didn’t know how to progress).

It was a combination of the style, the game-play, and the interesting Pokemon that kept me entertained, but more importantly, the game came to represent a simple time in my life. Eventually the game was sold, as it became obsolete in the face of iPods and iPhones, and I gradually forgot about it. Then a year or so ago I started to feel nostalgic about the simplicity of the GameBoy; it didn’t need internet, the battery lasted for days, it wasn’t cluttered with apps and social media, and it was a reminder of one of my first great experiences with art. Needless to say, I ended up finding and buying a used GameBoy and started collecting the Pokemon games, which eventually led to buying a used DS Lite for the nostalgia of playing Pokemon Diamond and Platinum. However, the cost was adding up, and I started to realize that I had forgotten the point entirely; I never wanted all of the games, I just wanted the one that was sentimental to me.

I learned a lot from that experience, but most importantly that art can be appreciated and enjoyed in small quantities. When I thoroughly enjoy a work of art, I no longer try to buy everything related to it, instead I focus on the one thing that I loved about it and try to find something that will represent that in a nostalgic way. As a result, I have a little bit from everything: the seventh book of One Punch Man (the style of the fight scenes in this book are especially impressive), the first volume of One Piece, a deck of tarot cards, and a poster from the anime Akira, just to name a few. Each of these things I would love to indulge in, but I’m glad I haven’t; it is essentially quality over quantity, which is perfect for somebody like me who already enjoys so much art to begin with. And as far as cost goes, I can appreciate a work of art without having to waste money; for example, if I wanted to own every manga from Akira, it would run me about $170, when instead I can appreciate it and remember how much I enjoyed it with a $15 poster. Obviously this is just my personal philosophy, and some people might think it’s outrageous to only own one book from a series. I can’t say they’re entirely wrong, and in a perfect world I would want the whole series too, but realistically this is what works for me. So consider this an alternative way of thinking about and appreciating art; perhaps you can find the same value in this philosophy as I do.

(Image Credits: Google Images)