This weekend I had the pleasure of going to see Rock of Ages on Broadway – a musical where the story line is progressed by characters belting out classic rock hits of the 1980s. Firstly, as a preamble – it’s an incredible show. If you have not already seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I left the show feeling absolutely elated and warm with nostalgia – even as I traipsed through the rain on the way home.
Thinking back on how I felt – I wonder why I felt nostalgic. I was alive in the mid 80’s, so I guess technically I could feel like those were happy times, but in actuality I was too young to have any meaningful memories. I can’t even remember what songs were played on the radio until the early 90s (the first song I remember hearing on the radio is Metalica’s Enter Sandman released in July of 1991).
The show this weekend was not the first time I was wooed by feelings of “false nostalgia.” For example, I am very attracted to the new models of the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger (both released in 2005 with styling reminiscent of their mid 1960’s predecessors). I am also a regular viewer of the TV show Mad Men, which depicts the operations of an advertising agency in the late 1950s.
Although I’m sure the marketers for the above products were aiming their nostalgia marketing at those who were around for the original incarnations, I find that my feelings of nostalgia are amplified by having never actually experienced the original time period. For me these feelings are sourced from the marketing itself – a depiction of the past as seen through rose colored classes. Essentially it’s revisionist history – a fiction – a fraud! The times that I am longing for, never actually existed in the first place.
But, I must say, it is certainly nice to pretend that they did.