Don't Reboot The Recent Past.
We held the meeting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, where centrefolds torn from Bop magazine and Teen Beat were stuck to the walls with Fun-Tak that looked like wads of chewed up Bubblicious. Ricky Schroder and Kirk Cameron smiled down on us as my neighbour Rebecca took minutes with a multicoloured click-pen.
We had gathered to discuss"Full House," a sitcom in which a recently widowed man named Danny Tanner teaches his three adorable daughters very important life lessons, with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. The show was the perfect answer for little girls who had enjoyed the wacky nontraditional family structure they saw in the 1987 film"3 Men and a Baby" and thought,"I'll raise you two more kids." The members of my"Full House" Club assembled for important business like practicing Baby Michelle's latest catchphrase and debating whether DJ Tanner's scrunchies were boss.
This was my childhood in the late 1980s and early '90s, a time that, hairstyle-wise, and even teen-idol-wise, is perhaps better forgotten. But it will not be. Especially not now. Our nostalgia is greedy. It's not enough to look back fondly on the past; now we are rebooting it. Our nostalgia compels us to go beyond rewatching dusty old VCR tapes, to actually wanting fleeting childhood obsessions to be revived and re-enacted to fit our own times. This is why Netflix's announcement this spring that it would air a 13-episode continuation of"Full House" in 2016 made my inner 9-year-old swoon, even though adult me remains wary. Some of the original cast may officially be on board for"Fuller House," but like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who jointly portrayed Michelle Tanner, I am not.
In an era in which Throwback Thursday is one of the most crowd-pleasing hashtags on Instagram, even the cheesiest popular-culture references from the semi-recent past can feel oddly profound. I am not immune to downing nostalgia like Pop Rocks when I read listicles about how to identify oneself as a child of the '80s and '90s. Pernicious nostalgia is why the YouTube video for the February 2015"Saved by the Bell" reunion on"The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon" has more than 30 million views. It's why reboots of"21 Jump Street" and"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" have turned TV shows I enjoyed as a kid into successful movie franchises.
"Nostalgia, as always, had wiped away bad memories and magnified the good ones. No one was safe from its onslaught," Gabriel Garc'eda M'e1rquez writes in his memoir"Living to Tell the Tale," and certainly the revisiting of middling '90s TV shows helps to perpetuate myths of a simpler time, when sitcoms had laugh tracks and catchy theme songs and very little complexity.
"Full House" was a gooey American fairy tale during a time when my favourite colour was"pinkandpurple.""Full House" was also one of the last shows that existed solidly off the Internet during its seven-year run, from 1987 to 1995. Today, GIFs of Baby Michelle saying"You got it dude" can be found quite easily along with episode-by-episode recaps, and even steamy fan fiction titled"Uncle Jesse's Adventures." But when"Full House" originally aired, the club meetings in my bedroom may have been the forum where the most passionate displays of fandom could be found.
Our most direct way to engage with the show was to write gushing letters to John Stamos, care of ABC, with the hope that an autographed headshot might one day show up in our parents' mailboxes. Since then the Internet has empowered fans to have more access to and control over the shows they love. Technology evolves rapidly enough that the definition of what it means to be a fan changes constantly.
For the past six years I have used my own particular form of Internet fandom to pay tribute to my favourite TV shows and authors on Tumblr. I run a blog called Slaughterhouse 90210, in which I juxtapose images from TV shows with quotes from literature to comment on both and to create something that's entirely new.
Alas, I will never be 9 years old in 1987 ever again, and though it's fun to romanticise the past, I don't want to mistake fondness for excellence. It's like looking at a photo of an old childhood crush and realising that everything you loved about him was probably stuff you'd made up in your head.
Much like my friendships with the other members of my"Full House" Club, whom I sporadically see in my Facebook feed with their own 9-year-olds, my fandom seems unsustainable now.
Better, then, to let the children of today discover and obsess about their own TV shows. Don't remake the sweet smarm of our youth. I'll be fine without it. I can always read up on some Uncle Jesse and Uncle Joey fan-fic if ever I'm feeling sentimental.
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