Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weezer and the Layers of Nostalgia

So it's 2010. I'm sitting here watching YouTube, which is of course a thoroughly 21st-century thing to be doing. Many people use YouTube to see what's new and hip and current, but a good many also use it for the purpose of misty-eyed nostalgia: watching crap from generations past and pretending that it's magnificent. Commenting, "They sure don't make 'em like they used to."

So there I am watching Weezer's "Buddy Holly". Thinking about how the years have gone by. How this song that still seems kinda newish to me is actually over fifteen years old. How it was released in an era when people actually paid for music and actually used the TV to watch videos. Actually the video was forward-looking: Microsoft launced its then-current version of Windows on a CD-Rom that included this video on it. Watching a video on your computer. Wow: the future.

And now it's idle nostalgia. Now Weezer uses YouTube to release their videos, and in fact lampoon YouTube in its videos. They've released a new album in tribute to Hurley from "Lost", a seven-year-old show that's just ended, proving that either they're just way slow on hipster references or else they've invented instant nostalgia.

But wait - they always were nostalgia merchants. At the height of mid-nineties Gen-X irony, they hired Spike Jonze to make a super-clever video-cum-tribute to "Happy Days". A fond look back at a TV show from their youth. Nostalgia for the seventies. Great. It's 2010 and I'm nostalgically watching omeone from the 90s being nostalgic about the1970s.

Except wait. "Happy Days" was an intentionally retro look-back too, back in the seventies when the people in charge of the show were feeling nostalgia for the sock-hop rock-and-roll days of their youth in the 1950s.
Jesus. You can just drown in this nostalgia if you let it. In 20-year intervals, I put myself all the way back more than half a century ago to the 1950s, an imaginary take on the post-war world filtered through generations of  misty memories. The 1950s reimagined in a 1970s sitcom, subject of an homage in the form of a 1990s music video, being watched by me here in 2010. Fond memories of fond memories of fond memories.

Now that's what life is like in 2010.
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