Recently I came across a random question basically asking about nostalgia and favorite nostalgic things. This got me thinking towards how I honestly just cannot stand the idea of nostalgia. Nostalgia in general is nothing more than a longing for things that’ve passed and there’s nothing inherently wrong there. The problem comes from people’s own reactions to this. They remember past memories of their childhood and because of how fond those memories are their perception of the reality surrounding those things becomes clouded and misguided. It’s what leads to the idea of “what came first must be the best” and it’s solely because of their memories of what they felt during that time. And there’s the problem, nostalgia is feeling not analysis. You’re not rationalizing the thing that you feel nostalgia for you’re simply going off of the feeling you remember having for it. This is were looking at things in retrospect without the cloud of nostalgia comes in, but I have issues with the concept of retrospectives as well that I’ll save for another time.
The thing I actually wanted to talk about is the affect nostalgia has on a fandom. Now, anyone who has any sort of contact with me knows my issues with fandoms in general and a large part of it stems from this. Nostalgia reigns supreme in fandoms and it’s like that solely because people are easy(to borrow a term from Dosm), they’re simple. Example: the tokusatsu fandom. What came first for many toku fans? Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. And what reigns as one of the best series ever within that fandom’s ranks? MMPR. Why? Well, first impressions are everything when you’re a simpleton or a child. The thing that comes first is what sets the bar in you mind for everything to follow. As time goes on and you continue to look back at that first thing as being the pinnacle of what it could be then nostalgia begins developing and and you begin failing to realize the issues that might truly be present there. You put it on a pedestal and now no matter what comes nothing can scratch that almost god like image that your mind and stubbornness has created.
As time keeps going and people come together then a fandom is made and if the majority of the fandom is ruled over by their own nostalgic misguidance then the fandom itself becomes a slave to what was first. Well now you’re asking “So what? All fandoms are like that, but not everyone is a nostalgia nut.” You’re right, not all people are, but look at it this way. What’s one of the reasons people enter into a fandom? Part of it is to find like minded people and a large underlying reason to that is that they want to find people who are as equally accepting of their hobby as they are. So when a young bright eyed hopeful comes into a fandom and sees everyone bowing down to the almighty MMPR what do you think is going to happen? Chances are they’ll do one of two things, play along in order to gain that favor and acceptance or, more rarely, they’ll speak out and get their asses shunned.
So the majority go along with it. They begin to favor that cloud of nostalgia because either they feel they need to in order to be a “good fan” or in order to maintain that acceptance, probably both. This is what leads to the titular phenomena I call Contact Nostalgia. Yes, believe it or not there are people out there who become nostalgic for things they very well may never have been alive for. Why? Because they’re around other people who are nostalgic and subconsciously they rationalize that that must be the appropriate thing to do. It’s sort of the same idea as a contact high. You’re not really high, your mind is just making you feel good because other people around you feel good. With Contact Nostalgia you may not really be nostalgic for something you may just be tricking yourself into thinking that you should be.
So what then? Well that’s up to you. Do you want to keep that simple way of seeing things and just pretend that everything was better the way it was? Or are you willing to look deeper at what it is that you put so much stock into and hope for the best in the future? Personally, I’m much more happy using my head to look at things beyond their surface than I am simply enjoying something just because it’s cool. Even if that means no one around me thinks or does the same.