The GeeksverseSappy Emotions: Odd Bits of Nostalgia (part III)

Sappy Emotions: Odd Bits of Nostalgia (part III)
Published on Thursday, November 29, 2012 by

Nostalgia can be a funny thing. Sure, it can open our wallets, resell us our childhood, flock to DVD sets, and even make us buy action figures that “adult collectors” pan. Nostalgia is criticized for aggrandizing the past. Perhaps it can be described as the Happy Days syndrome, a 70s comedy set in the 50s because life was simpler and thus could be easier to express. Happy Days was trying to recreate the on-screen simplicity of Leave it to Beaver, Dennis the Menace, and Father Knows Best, even as the world of television families moved into Archie Bunker, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and Sons. Nostalgia allowed a generation to gloss over complexities of the past, so Nostalgia is far from perfect. 

Routinely, Nostalgia glosses over the past and tries to create a simpler version. Even as it ignores negative complexities and forefronts positive associations, Nostalgia is often only reminding us about a part of the past. That’s why Oliver Stone is currently saying his documentary and recent book are his most important work. Like all Stone movies the director is looking again at the past. This time he is charting his lifetime in context of military machinery advancements, moving from the warfare of the Great Wars to cyberwarfare of the modern moment and current presidential reign. Stone is trying to break through the Nostalgia and overly simplified history.

Collecting can appeal to Nostalgia as well.

Clearly marketing trends reveal that selling products to adult that reminds them of their childhood can equally cashing in. My last comic pull list and Amazon Wish List reflects my childhood from Masters of the Universe to Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. The marketing is apparent, but it runs into criticism, culture, and all facets of life from memory to hobby.

In my own case I’ve worked hard to figure out what makes my Nostalgia tick. After inflection and reflection I’ve found that it varies.

G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Captain Power all tickle my Nostalgia by not only bringing back pieces of my childhood memories but by claiming to improve upon them. I often tell people that the 25th anniversary G.I. Joes are the toys that I remember playing with. The actual 80s o-ring, straight-armed toys that I pull from my parents’  attic are not quite the fully pose-able plastic people that I remember spending hours and hours with. The modern molds that can assume nearly every natural pose and hold their own equipment and accessories are merely finally doing what my imagination and memory think my Joes could do.  While I don’t routinely buy Transformers and may never get to pick up new Captain Power toys, the movies and television shows capture my imagination again and again because of Nostalgia.  At times I don’t review on its own sake but consider it alongside of the original and as often against what my memory remembers via Nostalgia.

Nostalgia.

It does what we expect to spur on collecting but it can be more complex than replacing childhood toys with

My current obsession is more than just childhood glossing. That would be an easy answer and an easy expectation, but inspection and reflection reveals a bit more.

My current obsession is more than just Batman, cool toys, and fun with my daughter. This is from the collection I purchased before I brought it home.

I’ve taken to following comics online and on screens rather than on pages like most Americans. In my current case it is economically rooted. My personal finances are keeping me from funding Nostalgia. Sure, echoes of the 80s-90s make me want to spend money, but I’m balancing that against something else: a need to survive. It is a common first world problem that is posh with my understanding how fortunate I am.

Not buying is giving me more time to inflect and reflect about why I collect. As the need to run into Charlotte and buy, buy, buy has left me thinking, I have discovered a few irregularities.

Imaginext is selling worlds of wonder.

 

Besides the DC properties, Imaginext has also created cool original toy lines.

Luckily, I don’t mind a little extra time to think about the “condition my condition is in”—to paraphrase Kenny Rogers and First Edition because my Nostalgia also has an audio bent at times.

Nostalgia isn’t all good.

Nostalgia isn’t all bad.

Like the over simplification that can be achieved by bending unknowingly to Nostalgia, the bittersweet pain and joy of Nostalgia should not be glossed together too quickly.

This DC line still needs more female characters.

In my past few columns I’ve been celebrating Imaginext toys as story starters for more than just kids. As I’ve said, and continue to say, these are great toys but my Nostalgia is keeping me internet searching for more and more of these toys.Granted, even though these toys were not around in my childhood, they do still tickle my Nostalgia for simpler afternoons of cartoons and playing on the living room rug. Inflecting and reflecting deeper reveals something more recent, an event from my more recent past.

The Christmas season always causes me to reflect. I picture my nearly perfect childhood holiday memories thanks to Nostalgia glossing it all together into a smile. The Christmas season also twists my wife’s Nostalgia into guilt and fear with glossed together fragmented feelings about navigating what Adler called “Family Constellations.” At times it is easier to chart a destination by stars than to deal with families. Again, knowing that we look back with Nostalgia obscuring the more complicated truth, our pasts often become simplified and yet even more complicated. Perhaps it would be natural at yet another holiday season to rest on the idea that my love of playful and imaginative toys is completely Nostalgia wanting me to play better holidays. Yet, after evaluation, I know it is still deeper and newer.

Imaginext is a great toy line.

Imaginext is more than just a great toy line too me. Sappy emotions and memories join together with the plastic. Holding the recently purchased 3″ Imaginext Batman and Joker in my hand remind me of toys past. The first Batman and Joker I bought were not for me. They were purchased as a pair to give to a friend of a similar age but not for him. The occasion was his birthday, but the gift was truly for his son. The card attached congratulated him on growing from a childhood chum into a parent and explained that the gift was meant to provide him floor time fun with his son. Happily I recall boxing up the toys and card and sending them to my friend—as I was living out of state at the time. Sadly, I also recall that that was during my wife and Is first pregnancy. That pregnancy ultimately did not go to term but did allow me to experience the preparation of fatherhood for myself. Now I am stock piling these toys so that I can inspire imaginative play with my daughter in the next few years and help introduce her to geekdom.

It doesn’t take a Freudian as skilled as TV’s Frasier to figure this one out. Even if I am more of an expert on comics, films, toys, and general geekdom, I can figure out what mixes in with this Nostalgia.

Nostalgia is problematic because it overly simplifies and aggrandizes the past into a shape that it never was. I respect the problem inherent within that. Yet, at times, it is nice to sit back, hold a little hand and enjoy the bittersweet of pain and joy that  that can inspire.

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