The Bridge of Teenage Connectivity

What do Twilight, Victorious, Shameless, Harry Potter, and One Direction have in common? Well they are all franchises popularized during the childhood years of the current teenage generation. And they have made a swift return. Nostalgia of the past seems to be one of the top selling points for popular culture consumption of the younger generation.  In recent years, there has been a revival and growth of  fandoms for movies, TV shows, music and fashion from the 2000s-2010s

 There also seems to be a return of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s into teenage media consumption (Stranger Things, FRIENDS, Gilmore Girls, etc.); decades that today’s teenagers didn’t live through. Yet, there is an element of “nostalgia” for teens during these time periods as well through the intense romanticization of the past; a seemingly happier time of life.

But why is this? Well nostalgia is an intense feeling. A longing for the past. A window into the happier times of childhood innocence when new responsibilities (more school work, extracurriculars, leadership positions, jobs), pressures (grades, college, learning to drive), and fear of adulthood didn’t burden us like they do as teenagers. 

“Scavengers” on Vimeo  

In this scene of the short film “Scavengers,” the space explorer gets flashbacks of her life back on Earth. Throughout the entirety of the film, her and her partner go through a complicated journey in order to relive these visions. In the image above, it shows that she feels euphoric as she embraces the familiarities of her life in the past which further demonstrates the joyous feelings that nostalgia presents. 

Godfrey “Doc” Daniels is another example of this phenomenon. He created an international attraction where callers all around the world were fascinated with a phone booth in the Mojave Desert. Once it was torn down, Daniels explained why he continued to call: “It would be like listening to a song that meant something to you. I guess I did just like calling out to the booth and hearing it ring in the end.” This shows his longing for the excitement that the phone booth brought him in the past. 

But I think the reason nostalgic media consumption has profoundly affected teenagers is best explained by Barry Lopez in “Children in the Woods” when he recalled, “a sense of responsibility toward children, knowing how acutely I was affected in that moment by that woman’s words. The effect,  for all I know, has lasted a lifetime.” This explains that the media consumed as children was associated with positive memories which have continued to stay with us throughout the years. 

In the end, teenagers seek belonging in this period of life changes. And the return of nostalgic forms of media  in current teenage culture is important as it  fulfills that belonging by creating a sense of social connectivity in  a positive way, one that differs from the shared negative experiences of teenage years. A way to bridge the gap through reminiscence and pure bliss. 

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