Will 90’s Nostalgia Replace The 80’s?

By Stephen Clark

Trends come and go and then come back around again. 

Finally. The trailer for a new movie in the franchise you loved as a kid is coming out. It starts. It looks good! Nice and crisp visuals, way better than the VHS you watched the original on. You meet the characters who are the kids, or whatever, of the people from the first one. And then it happens: the dramatic and subdued version of the music you identify the series with. You don’t love the trailer but it’s good to hear that music again. You’ll probably go and watch it, even just for fun with friends.

Nostalgia is a powerful tool in media. It isn’t about giving you exactly what the past was, instead delivering the best bits of what you remember. It’s the taste of Cap’n Crunch, not the cuts on the roof of your mouth. We’ve seen the 80’s become a technicolor dreamscape of sexy Uncle Jesse mullets, DeLoreans and quirky kids playing D&D while synthwave soundtracks hum us to a happy place. But we’ve all seen what mall bangs ACTUALLY looked like, almost nobody had a DeLorean or cared about it until Back to the Future and that basement from Stranger Things? Should’ve had way more acne and body odor. Nostalgia is a POWERFUL tool.

On The Playground Is Where I’d Spend Most Of My Days

The wave of 80’s nostalgia in television, film and more has been going for a pretty long time, with a long and varied list of shows that cash in on the audience who grew up in that decade. But now we’re seeing the nostalgia roll right on over into the next decade.

From every direction, a generation of 20-to-30-somethings is getting enticed by the look, sound and feel of the years they grew up in. Captain Marvel featured a still-in-business Blockbuster, packed with new release VHS tapes and the latest and greatest beeper tech used to call her to assist Earth in its time of need.

BTS, the biggest deal in pop music can be seen in some clearly 90’s inspired looks and feature a healthy dose of the pre-00’s radio jams in the albums that brought them to the attention of the average US listener. Whatever the medium is, the 90’s are worming their way in and coming for your wallet.

Time Keeps On Slipping Into The Future

Aside from the things that are simply taking a cue from the past’s pop culture, we’re set to get brand new installments of The Matrix and Scream, kicking off the 2020’s with two of the most decidedly 90’s series. Not content to settle for getting your dollar in the future, nobody has to wait for those films to get their dose of Tamagotchi-era goodness. Disney+ launched with only a select few originals, instead relying on the love for their back catalog of Saturday morning classics like Darkwing Duck, the Fox animated X-Men series and more.

Style Over Substance

One of the biggest parts of the renaissance of what people identify as THE look of the 80’s is a product of that laser beams, neon and shiny metal aesthetic that The Memphis Group pioneered. Without as easily defined and replicable of a style, 90’s nostalgia might not have the same kind of long tail. But I can’t wait to see what Zoomers decide the 90’s looked like.

Whether the cautious steps out of 80’s nostalgia and into 90’s will stick, we’ll have to wait and see. But what do you think? Will rehashed Clinton-era styles gain new life? Will we get to see Justin Tmberlake get to fashionably revive his ramen noodle hair?

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