Opinion: We need to talk about Porn

No, not that one, Nostalgia Porn.

*Disclaimer: I am technically a millennial so I am possibly part of the problem

As I write this Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm. Literally, as in the players are swarming public places in the quest to ‘catch them all’. So much so, Auschwitz has had to ban people from playing it. Yes, Auschwitz!

Pokémon Go is popular not only because of its innovating blurring of the lines between the real and virtual worlds but it is also tapping into what seems to be a heavily skewed millennial need to fetishise everything from their childhood. Fandom has been a feature of the human experience for many generations, but we have been distilling it down to a potent need to be in absolute love with things from our past en masse.

The Pokémon Cartoon, Card game and deeply loved computer games have had a longevity of life to begin to rival behemoths like Star Wars, Marvel Comics or Superman in popularity, with the core audience still being mainly children. So why are grown adults, old enough to have kids of their own losing their minds over a children’s game?

The answer is Nostalgia Porn.

Look at the current output of Hollywood, we are getting, remakes, reboots or sequels to films made in the 80’s and even 90’s. Leaving aside the Comic Book universes for the moment (they have built in cycles of regeneration even in print) was anyone clamouring for a Point Break remake? Does Transformers need a 5th instalment? Does Terminator? Do we really need Top Gun 2!? And let us not look at the Fall TV schedule with is littered with movie to TV jumps, like Rush Hour…and Lethal Weapon!

We appear to have become unable to enjoy something which was not only maybe a good action film but was bound very much in its era. The era of Don Simpson produced high octane, over the top action films was very late 80’s early 90’s, but they became classics because despite the over the topness, they had a limit. It would seem that after his death the Hollywood blockbuster jumped the shark as Don’s surviving production partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, let Michael Bay off the leash and we ended up with such gems as Armageddon and Pearl Harbour, the Pirates of the Caribbean came from the Bruckheimer stable too and has been blamed for Johnny Depp’s one note, half-drunk seeming performances since. And the idea for that film came from a joke in Jurassic Park. Hollywood has been desperately trying to recapture its most recent golden age without understanding what made it great in the first place. And it wasn’t from throwing all the things at the screen at once.

So, we have a Hollywood machine feeding us crap remakes and reboots because they’re too terrified to take proper punts on new properties, millennials who are having the longest adolescences of any humans ever and money to spend on keeping it that way, and all the ancillary industries feeding off the lead of both to extract that money from everyone. There is no problem getting a retro styled Star Trek: TOS metal lunch box these days, because they’re being mass produced to feed the market.

Rarity is seemingly not valued as it once was, the on demand culture afforded by the internet means that virtually no classic film or TV show is too far away from us and we pay for virtually none of it as we’ve decided that adverts are a moral affront to us and will pirate to our hearts content. (Don’t get me wrong, there are times and places for ads, and some ad models are increasingly intrusive) It is becoming increasingly difficult to be an individual or create new things that might become popular because we all have to be in absolute love with the same things from when we were 12.

Perhaps we can take solace in the stabilisation of the book publishing market. Ebooks democratised self-publication and made it cheaper and easier to get your manuscript in front of an audience but the feared collapse in the physical book market has, thank fully not materialised. So much so that the instigator of bookmageddon, Amazon, is opening physical book stores in the States. They put so many retailers out of business but they are now having to follow that original business model. And it is not a result of nostalgia porn and fetishisation of books thankfully, it appears to be that tactile interaction with books is much more deep seated in us. Technology is great!, but it doesn’t need to replace absolutely everything.

The original material Hollywood is taking punts on and doing well with are again coming from books and plays, as was once common place. Oscar nods and box office success for the likes of Room, Gone Girl, and The Revenant is showing that there is not only a need for new stories, but an appetite. There will always be a place for the mindless japery of Fast and Furious 64 but books may be our salvation from the 23rd instalment of Transformers (fingers crossed).

Novelty is great, but it doesn’t always need to be permanent (3D is dying off again, long live IMAX) and the things of our childhood sometimes just need to be left there, in perfect bubbles of place, time and experience to be enjoyed as memory, revisited on occasion and shared with love to the next generation when age appropriate. Keeping everything the way it was is making culture very samey.

By Louise Bermingham