The Monthly Pessimist: ‘Bumblebee’ makes me yearn for a decade I never experienced

March 1, 2019




By Joe Sandomenico
Staff Writer

Vicarious nostalgia. This is the feeling of yearning for a moment that occurred outside, or prior to, the span of one’s memory but is relatable due to repeated exposure to it. For example, the 1980s were probably the best decade to grow up in, and I credit the recent movie “Bumblebee” for that thought. Thanks to vicarious nostalgia, I just hate the present more and more every day.

As I watched the characters going to local carnivals, staying out late without worrying about their safety and riding bikes to get around town, “Bumblebee”which is set in 1987made me think how fun the 80s must have been. I mean, just imagine being able to go somewhere that isn’t a pizzeria. That just completely blows my mind.

I will never experience what it’s like to actually have to go to people’s houses to be able to speak to them. Nowadays, everyone can just be alone in their rooms and FaceTime or call their friends. They rely on technology as a substitute for face-to-face contact. Yes, technology makes life easier, but it doesn’t make it more fun.

I love playing video games, and this hobby often consumes a lot of my time. Do I enjoy binging on video games? Not particularly, but there’s really nothing better to do. Everyone tells me to read a book or watch TV, but that’s all boring to me. I can guarantee I wouldn’t be bored or controlled by technology if I were actually living in a the ‘80s.

Relationships and dating were also better back then, especially for older teenagers and young adults. Nowadays, the only interesting thing to do on a date is go out to eat. However, in movies and TV shows set in the ‘80s, teens are shown going on dates to carnivals and concerts, which were affordable back then. That sounds a lot more fun than eating pizza, in my opinion.

That’s another thing that was great about the ‘80s; everything was relatively affordable. Tickets for concerts or sporting events were not as proportionally expensive as today and neither were cars. Even going to grab a bite to eat at your local restaurants wasn’t as costly. For instance, a slice of pizza in the ‘80s ranged anywhere from 60 cents to $1, but a slice today costs between $2 and $3.

Even music was better back in the ‘80s. Today, mumbled rap is usually what makes up a teenager’s playlist. However, the ‘80s were known for timeless artists like Michael Jackson, Journey, Madonna and Lionel Richie. It was a great decade for rap and hip hop artists including Ice Cube, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. These artists inspired those who came after them in the 1990s with Nas, OutKast, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac all making their marks in the music industry. It Seems to me the ‘80s are really good at making the 21st Century look bad.

One of my favorite rappers who doesn’t mumble, Ollie, touches upon this idea. In his 2016 song “Fading Away,” he raps, “Stupid phone world/ People walking around inside of they own world/ Never focused on the things that actually matter in life/ They’re too busy checking pages about their old girl.”

If this column were a thematic essay, I think this would be the only piece of evidence I would need.

Vicarious nostalgia is a feeling that is mainly caused by advertising in the media, and it is typically associated with a more positive feeling for something that one never experienced. However, based on this column, it is obvious that I can spin an emotion as sentimental as this into a cynical feeling.

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