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Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Nostalgia Threshold, and related media

As I mentioned last week, lately I've been kinda bored with adolescent angst, especially as seen on TV. Didn't know why, exactly, except that I find it hard to care about the petty fashion feuds and that dreamy boy in algebra class and all the other drama that has no impact whatsoever in the long run.

So I was trying to figure out why this is, when insight came to me from an unexpected source: Fametracker's Fame Audit of Zach Braff. I enjoy Fametracker as a rule, and the Braff audit was entertaining. But this line stood out:

Perhaps that's why we weren't so crazy about Garden State -- not just because we find tales of mid-twenties angst kind of tiresome (just quit smoking pot, get a decent job, and tell your crappy parents to fuck off already).

Why does that stand out? It stands out because I know two things: one, that the writers of Fametraker are in their late twenties, and two, that it's exactly the same way I feel about the teenagers.

I am beginning to suspect, therefore, that there's a Nostalgia Threshold, an invisible line of aging that, once crossed, catapults oneself into the next ascension of age group, their personal identity shifting to find empathy with the various conundrums this age group is faced with.

So Fametracker is annoyed with the mid-twenty-somethings, I'm annoyed with the teenagers, all of us have our favorite melancholy age-specific media. And I still like Garden State.

Not because I think it's brilliant. It's definitely a flawed film, with overly self-conscious, exposition-heavy dialogue and the sort of bad cuts that result from poor coverage. But it made me feel things, made me conscious of the ironic detachment that I've used to face this time in my life. It made this epoch, this age, seem important. And that made it easy to descend into Zach Braff's stare, to wish for an abyss where my scream would echo.

In a couple of years, I'm sure I'll be bored with this sort of thing, putting aside The Graduate and escaping into that great classic of early-aughts television, The O.C.. Because part of the Nostalgia Threshold, I suspect, is the ability to look back at the era before last, remember the good times. Regain one's hindsight, and the ability to care.

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