Whither Nostalgia?

By | Sunday, April 05, 2009 3 comments
The Spider-Man theme song by the Ramones...

It was recorded in 1995 for an album entitled Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits -- essentially, it consists of cartoon theme songs reworked by then-contemporary/popular rock bands like Butthole Surfers, Sublime and Violent Femmes. Quite possibly my favorite album of all time. And I don't say that lightly.

I hate Indiana. Nearly every time I'm in Indiana, there are significant road hassles. Doesn't seem to matter what day, what time, what season -- it ALWAYS takes me at least an hour longer to get where I'm going than it should because of problems in Indiana. BUT, the last time through, I was able to throw this album on the stereo and I was laughing so hard that tears of joy were streaming down my face. DESPITE being stuck in a traffic jam which had us at a stand-still. That's how much I enjoy this album.

The primary reason I enjoy it is, for lack of a better word, nostalgia. For a time when theme song lyrics were about as plainly obvious as you can make them...
He's bigger than big
Taller than tall
Quicker than quick
Stronger than strong
Ready to fight for right
Against wrong
...and my biggest worry was whether to have Count Chocula or Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast while I spent my Saturday mornings glued to the TV set.

But here's what puzzles me: my nostalgia kicks up only when I'm reminded of the long lost innocence I had as a kid, but the reminders can't be the original source material itself, but grown-up (but appreciative and respectful) bastardizations of it. I can sit and watch Disney's Peter Pan (one of my childhood favorites) with no problems. I can read Lost Girls without batting an eye. But Hook, even with the myriad of problems it has, got to me.

Furthermore, I have never gotten nostalgic over or because of a comic book. I can watch the cartoon, read the comic and even watch that terrible movie, but something about Juliana Hatfield's performance of the theme song to Josie and the Pussycats really gets to me. I get a huge grin just thinking about Liz Phair's version of the The Tra La La Song.

But those comics I grew up on at the same time? World's Finest and Detective Comics and all the rest? Nothing. Perhaps because they were as mind-numbingly simple as those cartoons were? I don't think any one I ever read had anything as obvious as "C'mon, watch the good guys win" for a tag line.

Or is it because I don't watch as many cartoons as I read comics? I spend a good chunk of every day reading, discussing, thinking about, and mentally digesting the medium on the whole, so perhaps I've inoculated myself against the potential effects of comic-induced nostalgia.

Or is it a change in quality? I see a LOT more good, if not excellent, comics now than I saw in my youth. More complex and nuanced plots, and a higher attention paid to the art. But a friend and I were just discussing the other day the sorry state that television animation is in these days. The writing seems worse overall (Adult Swim aside) and the animation is more crude. (And he ought to know what he's talking about -- he's got five kids!)


How about I just let Sublime carry us out with Hong Kong Phooey and stop thinking about it...
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Matt K said...

My brother has similar feelings regarding Illinois. :)

The Never Fairy said...

I really like Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits too. Quite fun indeed. I love how Sublime took the itty bitty song as an invitation to do an all out Jam. And the "Tra La La Song" is loads of fun, too.

And as for Hook, I totally agree, too. Try THIS... it's based on Barrie's own idea for more:


Pj Perez said...

Totally true and barely related fact: I have a tattoo of Gigantor on my left arm. And he has a tattoo.