Many kids today are getting a heavy dose of exactly what their parents loved during their own childhood. Everything old is being made new again by Hollywood. And by the toy business, which is happily cashing in on the fanatical nostalgia of middle-aged consumers.
In no place is this truer than on the Death Star of nostalgia machine, Star Wars.
Parents today don’t seem the least bit interested in their kids having a unique childhood experience, because it has been deemed far too cool to instead outfit them in Darth Vadar t-shirts and Superman capes and to play with Transformers again.
While I did hear an awful lot of Frank Sinatra’s voice growing up, I did not watch “My Three Sons,” John Wayne movies or even those silly black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons. My parents weren’t eager to shove these down my throat in an effort to instill identical passions in me. Corporations weren’t looking to capitalize off the nostalgia of “people of a certain age.”
Instead, I was allowed develop my own interests as a child, so I played with He-Man figures and other toys foreign to my parents, shook off their local teams to become a diehard fan of out-of-town sports franchises, and gradually found my way to “weird” indie rock music and low-budget art house films; nary a tuxedoed crooner or shoot-’em-up western to be found.
My parents had no interest in raising a mini-version of themselves. As a result, I was granted access to a unique childhood experience. My experience, not a version of the one they had already lived. I’m pretty sure this was the case for all of my friends back in the early 80s too.
Boy oh boy, the times have they changed.
What modern kids are missing as a result of this force-fed nostalgia field trip is a chance to carve out their own special place in the world as young people. They are probably missing the modern greatness of animated shows like Cartoon Network’s mini-series masterpiece “Over the Garden Wall” because Star Wars Rebels and Inspector Gadget reboots are streaming all around us. And that’s cool because parents are saying so, dressing like those old characters themselves and are giving their kids not much else in the way of fresh, new choices. And that’s a shame.
As a dad, I take a certain amount of pleasure in sharing my particular passions with my two daughters — we do own the entire Fraggle Rock collection and have several Detroit Red Wings trinkets around the house — but I stop short of giving them a carbon copy of my life when I was their age. I long for them to seek and find their own favorites, from their generation, and I hope they will share them with me, not the other way around.
Of course, a little Sinatra or “weird” indie rock every now and then never hurt anyone.