Thursday, October 30, 2008

Legislated Nostalgia

I first came into contact with the idea of legislated nostalgia from the Blur album, Modern Life Is Rubbish. Inside the booklet was this definition: to force a body of people to have memories they do not actually possess.

I identified strongly. I was suddenly nostalgic for a 90s era Britain, when I was in fact a teenager living in the Midwest. I had never been to Britain. I was suffering the effects of legislated nostalgia.

The Word Spy has a different definition: Nostalgic images or ideas presented in such a way that even people who weren't yet born seem to "remember" that time.

Is this how we are viewing Mad Men? Do we collectively feel as though we remember a time when women were secretaries or mothers and men had the corner offices and all the power? When abortion was illegal, when it was socially acceptable to be racist and anti-semitic? When television advertisements might have just been a fad? When clothing was a bit more modest and Kennedy was president? When The Beatles were all alive and making music?

Do I "remember" the 1960s despite being born in the 80s?

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