Daily Archives: July 3, 2010

The Summer of Nostalgia

Just watched Toy Story 3! AWESOME!! You have no idea how excited we were to see Totoro in there haha. – from David’s twitter

Needless to say, David and I are Pixar fans, and the reaction David and his sibs had to Totoro in Toy Story 3, which I saw at the movie theater last night, was the reaction I had to the movie’s villain, Lotso-Huggin’ Bear (yes, I once owned a similar looking teddy bear – it might have been a Care Bear since Lotso is clearly an amalgamation between that and the scented strawberry shortcake doll collection – and this got thrown out too, thus SPOILER ALERT thanks to Pixar I now have to deal with some new and lost childhood guilt).

I also owned Great Shape Barbie (who is also in the film) and was amused to find her unceremoniously discarded by Andy’s sister Molly (mine was tossed aside as soon as an aunt of mine gave me a black Barbie for Christmas, the first of its kind I ever received, thus proving that little girls do identify best with dolls that look like them, so my poor blonde Great Shape Barbie took second or third place among my favorite dolls – and no, I was not being a bigot).  I imagine I would have been a Princess Tiana addict if I were a little girl growing up today since I absolutely adore The Princess and the Frog.

Let’s face it.  Pixar, like David, is genius.  They both really understand what it means to connect on a deeper, emotional level with their audiences, and their meticulous attention to details is quite astounding.  Pixar filled Toy Story 3 with a number of different vintage and faddish toys that emerged from the different generations representing its diverse audience.  So, for David’s peers, there is the recognition of Totoro; for mine, there is Lotso (even though Pixar is generating fake ads to pretend it existed back in 1983, they obviously have an archetype in mind because I remember similar teddy bears from this era – I still say it’s a mixed spoof on Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake). For a later generation, it would be the troll dolls.  For baby boomers, it’s Woody and Buzz Lightyear.  There isn’t a piece of pop culture and material culture junk and detritus that they have overlooked.  They are completely in tune (much like David with his ear for every kind of pop tune over the past few decades) with consumer culture and the values (or lack thereof) that emerged from this pathos.  It is why grown men and women (myself included) cried our eyes out at the end of the film.  We never thought the “things” that accumulated in our youth had any meaning, but nostalgia allows us to revisit those items and magnify them in our memories, and we weep – not for our childhood but for how we remembered it.  And how we lost it, and how we took it for granted that these “things” would remain with us always.

What am I saying?  Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece, and one that will be remembered for all time.  Likening our old toys facing their fates in an incinerator to a scene right out of Schindler’s List is a helluva feat for an animation feature, and as consumers – both in our youth and adulthood – we are being asked to reassess what the things we accumulate actually mean.  Toy manufacturers (along with our digital technology industries) keep coming up with the latest and greatest thing for our amusement, and yet we immediately find them replaceable and disposable.  What would it mean to see value in what we own and to pass them on to another generation?  What would it mean to value recycling and rebirth?

That’s the core lesson in Toy Story 3, and one that has been weighing on me since I watched this film (which I know I will need to watch again).

This summer is definitely turning out to be the summer of nostalgia.  I had already watched and enjoyed the new installment of The Karate Kid (having watched the original as a pre-adolescent, much like that star’s daddy, who made a fun rap song called “Parents Just Don’t Understand” back in the day).  Yep, this is really shaping up to be a season of reminiscences: that longing for a past time, for youth, for childhood innocence, for something long gone.  This feeling is at the root of my ODD obsession, falling for someone like David because I didn’t know they still made adorable, honorable, and dignified boys like that anymore.  Or celebrities and teen pop stars for that matter.  New Millennial Rebirth indeed!

Like Pixar, David taps into my sense of nostalgia, and it was most appropriate – while contemplating Toy Story 3 after watching it – that I streamed his new single “Something ‘Bout Love” on a loop.

When you were young
Scared of the night
Waiting for love to come along
And make it right
Your day will come, the past is gone
So take your time
And live and let live

My childhood era coincides with the 1980s – that decade of economic excess, Reagonomics, Michael Jackson superstardom, Wall Street outta control, urban decay and hip-hop emergence, the rise of the computer and new video games, crazy junk food candy (like Nerds and now-or-laters) and just stuff, stuff, and more stuff.  We did not talk about recycling, organic food, or “safe sex” then, when HIV was a death sentence.  But when you’re young, your pac-man games and your Great Shape Barbie doll and your teddy bear that looks an awful lot like Lotso gave you solace in your own little play world.

You didn’t know that, in adulthood, the boys in your generation who played too rough, grabbed at your hair, and obsessed over transformer toys would make awful movies about those same toys, while the more dorky boys (the neurotic types who came to your house bugging you for the homework assignment because you were the “smart girl” in class) would grow up to make brilliant films at Pixar studios, like WALL-E or Up or, now, a Toy Story trilogy.

And the more sensitive types would settle down, simmer down, and either help birth or mentor equally sensitive youth like David Archuleta, who can tap into the same emotional well and draw out melancholy, joy, pleasure, and calm.

And girls like me would grow up to teach or write or offer witty cynicisms because the only profound cultural moments that we as women are allowed resemble the faux-feminist silliness of Sex and the City 2. (See this scathing and, by far, the best bad-review-ever! of this disappointing dreck of a film.)

But at least we still have guys like David to adore and appreciate when he sings about the promise and heartbreak of love: in all its wistful yet energetically youthful longings.  If there is a “forever” to be had, it may not be in childhood or youth but definitely in the sentiment.

As long as each new generation has a David or a Pixar to express that, some things will never die or be threatened by a fiery end in an unforgiving incinerator.