Manufactured nostalgia cashes in on memories
Companies that try to sell memories repackaged as soulless products, added to the endless amount of unnecessary objects already available to consumers, prey upon the goodwill already developed by the intellectual properties they are exploiting. The result is rarely worthwhile, and many times the pale imitations dreamed of ending up as focus-tested, sickening nightmares. Film reboots are an obvious example of this in action, and in the past few years, there has been no shortage of poor renditions of classics. Thankfully, it seems that people are catching on to the trick, and taking off the rose-tinted glasses, so that they can examine new takes on classics and see how they might stand on their own.
Clothing intended for casual settings are used to represent something about the person wearing them, and companies have capitalized on this aspect of fashion, to use as yet another way to sell branded merchandise. Shirts with designs and color schemes that evoke shows from one’s childhood are manufactured by the millions, providing the masses with a way to present themselves as unique while lining the pockets of those seeking to maximize their profits.
Rather than innovating and pushing boundaries, the demand for nostalgia compels those in the market to provide it to maintain a status quo, or at best to make superficial gestures of change. The comics that Marvel produces have been heavily criticized recently because of their execution of changes to their shared universe, both by those who desire change and those that dislike the changes Marvel has chosen to make. Part of the criticism is that rather than creating new characters and doing the hard work of endearing those new creations to readers, Marvel has decided to instead alter existing ones that people have already grown fond of.
Reality being altered so that Captain America was actually a fascist member of Hydra all along might be the most flagrant example of this. With fond attachments come complex emotions, and part of what makes nostalgia so effective is how one associates the things they love with the times in their life that they experienced them. Humans are designed to make associations between things in the world, as a way of better understanding and ultimately navigating it. Whether creators want to admit or not, taking an original idea or work and reinterpreting it, or casting it in a new light, can change how the original creation is perceived.