Nostalgia, a term that means “a longing for a past time, period, or era”, has been a favorite pastime, (if one desires to recall a moment past as a “pastime”) for quite a while. The elements from one’s past, be it a personal episode or one involving something extracted from popular culture, is something connected with a feeling of happiness, warmth (emotional warmth, not the physical kind), and calmness that goes through the hearts and minds (physical and emotional) of folks when encountered. It could be a recall of a person or people once known, a place where the nostalgia user once lived within or had something connected to this place, or from a time that its user recalls as elements of joy. In other words, this nostalgia is a good version of this emotional state, rather than something that is far from a state of happiness and amusement. Perhaps this is the reason why there aren’t any reunion committees that arrange such events from those that served time in a specific prison. (That last statement may not have been composed in good taste, but upon viewing programs that are appearing on selected streaming video sources as “sitcoms”, that last line may fall into that league of post-modern humor shifted toward the snarky side. But we digress!)

And speaking (or writing) about nostalgia connected to media, that element is perhaps the most common source of bringing back the so-called “good old days”. TCM, the video source once known as Turner Classic Movies, has been on the rise for a while as that source programs feature films created from the early days of cinema to recent times with the emphasis of the golden age of Hollywood as well as the years that followed. Some of the over the air sources such as MeTV, available in many markets as a “half-channel” place on the dial (i.e. channel “5.3”) schedules the better known television programs from the 1950’s through the 1980’s,. Many radio stations and audio sources feature music from a specific time and format, such as rock from the 1970’s and 1980’s a.k.a. “classic rock”, or any music from a specific decade extracted from the latter half of the 20th century and the early years from the 21st.

And there are comfort foods! These are editable dishes that do hark from another time and place that have not only made their comeback, but are being reintroduced into a new way to serve. Macaroni and cheese, a staple for kids from the good old days (1950s and 1960s, and maybe earlier or later), has been “reimagined” into dishes that can be called gourmet. Ditto for pizza, and even “mom” favorites such as pot roast. It’s all connected to “feel good” meals that could have been experienced from somebody back in the day.

Although nostalgia, for what it is, is really great to have and to hold, it’s not the real be-all-to-end-all state of mind, body, and soul. There are the times of now, and one can’t necessarily compare those elements of the past to the spirit of the present. The notions may be quite different to how they are received nowadays, but that doesn’t necessarily make these notions of the present time worse to how it was way back when. It’s just how one witnesses what was then to be better (or worse) that how it’s perceived today. That can be better or worse. It all depends.

But how does this writer, a person that is also a media archivist that works with media elements from the good ol’ days, find nostalgia? For starters, yes, this person does find such elements from the past to be comforting and brings back a sense of joy when viewed. When yours truly attends the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood every spring, I make an effort to view movies that came from an era I recall, as well as a few features that were created before my time. But I stuck to the movies that were around when I was around, even seeing some titles that I saw when these old movies were indeed new(er) movies!

And as to movie’s media companion, television, (this writer’s speciality), sometimes I can’t seem to get enough of watching a program that brings back memories I recall, or even memories that came back to me that were once formally forgotten! Such a case as the time I viewed episodes from the 1976-77 TV series Mary Hartman. Mary Hartman that I have in my collection that were recorded off the air from Los Angeles TV station KTTV-TV at the time owned by Metromedia Broadcasting. When that program first premiered in January, 1976, that program was a favorite of my elder sister and her best friend at the time–a person that I took a shine to. (They were in their teens while I was an adolescent.) That person who I experienced a “puppy love” towards was conceived as long forgotten about until I started to view the episodes of this series starring Louise Lasser. Both Lasser, as well as this BFF of my sibling are now lost in the fog. But it did trigger a nostalgic viewpoint of where I was in my life and how I treated it! (How would I treat that moment in today’s sense? That’s for another article!!)

But nostalgia for what it is, won’t ever go away. Movies and TV programs are coming back with new faces and situations based upon sources from the previous era. (The animated Super Mario Brothers Movie currently playing in movie houses was based upon a video game c.1983!!) Comfort foods will be tried and reinvented again, and the styles and notions from the periods past will return in one way or other. But again, this time of today is just as fine for what it is. And with everything, there are exceptions. (Remember, everything from the past isn’t necessarily traditional nostalgia!) But just as long as one keeps one’s senses in the now and soon to be now, then one is pointed in the correct position.

And to end this all, when I was starting out as an archivist, one person, a mentor of mind, once stated, “Live with the past, not in it!” I followed this person’s advice and used this sense of being as a tenant, not a landlord. And that’s OK with me.

Just remember folks. If you are driving down that virtual (AI?) highway, always keep your eyes on the road ahead. But once in a while, glance at that rear view mirror to know where you came from. As Hollywood keeps churning out movies and TV programs based upon programs of yore (and as they become profitable), then that’s nostalgia for you. Money was green then, and it’s “greener” now! And cyber currency may even make a comeback soon! Let’s see….!



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