The Unique Time for Nostalgia Today
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Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. If it’s not obvious from a simple look at your calendar, then it’s definitely from a quick scroll through your TV options. National Geographic / Hulu is airing 9/11: An American Day; MSNBC / Peacock has Memory Box: Sounds of 9/11; HBO has the controversial Spike Lee Epicenters in NYC. News and social media feeds also quickly fill with memories and reflections. As befits a bad anniversary, a lot has happened in the culture to celebrate the day. There are also many things happening today that can make us feel like we are back in that time.
As those who have thought, everything changed after 9/11. Updated protocols at airports, increased surveillance everywhere, the whole American political scene shifted like night. The culture has also changed. Movies with terrorism plots have been reported got a shelf; the increased travel costs that keep movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, which does not come until 14 years later; Lilo and Stitch, in all things, it must be done greatly modified. A trailer for Sam Raimi Spider-Man edited by delete a scene with the Twin Towers. Must know stand-up comics how to tell jokes that nothing angered the people. Rage-y rap-rock like Limp Bizkit is starting to fall by the wayside (albeit musically Darwinism). Some argue, rightly, that a movie is like that Fight Club, which ended up in a residential city, never saw the inside of a theater in a post-9/11 world. The examples are endless, but the TL; DR is that, in America, there was a way of life before September 2001 and one after that – and those differences permeated the culture from, and almost to, the times.
Twenty years later, we live in a time of despair. Part of it is brought to Covid-19 pandemic and a desire to experience life before masks and lockdowns and a constant fear of endless pain, even if only experienced through a screen. But more honestly, the nostalgia on offer now seems to live right back to the 1990s-the (seemingly) halcyon days before the terrorist attacks. Today the latest FX is revealed American Crime Story installment, about President Clinton’s impeachment and the changing sexual politics and media landscape that made it a fiasco in the head. There is a new one Matrix movie, the trailer for which fell this week, who everyone remembers for 1999, even if HBO’s recent documentary on Woodstock ’99 was there to remind them that it wasn’t the best -ever year on record. And if that’s not enough, Steve Burns, the original host of Blue Hints, coincidence popped up on Twitter this week to apologize for the loss of our lives.
Either way, it’s just the natural churn of things. Ten years ago, millennials and younger Gen Xers were going through the same series of emotions about living in the ’80s. But as the cycle of nostalgia creeps up almost to 9/11, the ability to look behind the wheel is declining, and the things that make us most nostalgic are the things that connect the first and the post- 9/11 worlds, such as The Sopranos. (That series’ prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, theaters October 1.)
Actually, maybe this is the way. Nostalgia is good and all, but it’s always too much to feel. It’s not often one wants to go back to the joys of one’s youth, but that idea implies that everyone’s youth is somehow happy. Not all are his; nostalgia is something given to those who are privileged. Of all the punches in its gut, one of Euphoriathe more meaningful themes – if overlapped – the motives are that it’s a show about people born after 9/11. As that generation hits maturity, the line will always be them innocence cannot be known in the hours before the attacks, but the consequence of 9/11 was that Americans knew that innocence could never have been there.