Debate of the Day: How Much Does Nostalgia Make Bad Things Good?

I recently watched Midnight in Paris, where the ultimate point of the film was that when we view the world with nostalgia tinted glasses and always think that yesteryear was the best era to experience, we’re often mistaken or over-idealizing the past.

I think that the same principle applies to media, and I think that if we looked objectively at certain films, games or shows, without having experienced them while growing up, we might not see them as quite as amazing as we do.

As I grew up mostly in the ’90s, I missed a lot of hardcore action movies from the ’80s that were a signature of the decade. But as I’ve tried to get through a lot of them, I’ve found that many were just plain…bad, despite their pop culture icon status.

The possibly blasphemous example I cite in the picture above is Escape from New York, which on the surface, seemed like it should be awesome. Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken, a convict sent into dystopian Manhattan, now an Arkham City-type supermax prison, to rescue to president when Air Force One goes down inside. And he has an EYEPATCH!

But experiencing this movie for the first time, it was just BAD. The writing, the acting, the action sequences were all pretty horrific, and ended up being an exceptionally dumb feature, but not in a lovable, fun way. I had a similar experience with The Crow and The Lost Boys, two more films I just didn’t understand the appeal of. Were they so bad people thought they were funny? I’m not sure.

Now I’m not saying this is a universal truth with all classic films. There are some like Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, etc. that are unquestionably good no matter what era you view them in. But this sub-section of films? I think it’s overrated, and those who love them might be blinded by nostalgia.

This is just once specific example, but I think it happens on a more widespread scale, like how we berate children for not liking early NES or SEGA games, when objectively, new titles are in fact better in most areas. I think nostalgia covers all our eyes to a certain extent, and it makes it incredibly difficult to be objective about anything.


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