Academic Minute Podcast

Ryan Lizardi, SUNY Polytechnic Institute – Millennials, Your Nostalgia Window is Now!

On SUNY Polytechnic Institute Week: Nostalgia can be big business.

Ryan Lizardi, associate professor of digital media and humanities, says the window is now wide open for millennials.

Ryan Lizardi is Associate Professor of digital media and humanities at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. He focuses his research on media encouraged nostalgia, including his books Mediated Nostalgia (2014), Nostalgic Generations and Media (2017), and Subjective Experiences of Interactive Nostalgia (editor, 2019). His latest book, Existential Science Fiction (2022) connects this research into longing for the past to the big questions about our existence as human beings and the role media can play in contemplative answers.

Millennials, Your Nostalgia Window is Now!

Have you noticed lately that everything from your childhood is coming back again? Were you born in the early 80s through the early 90s? If so, you’ve officially reached the prime age for encouraged mediated nostalgic longing. You might be thinking, but I’m too young to feel nostalgic. However, the media companies that own these properties beg to differ. Much of my research involves exploring how and why media companies encourage different types of engagement with the past, and they have lately demonstrated that It is in their best interest to keep properties like Ghostbusters, Super Mario Bros., and seemingly Disney’s entire back catalog perpetually relevant and bankable, and you currently occupy what is traditionally considered the prime consumer age demographic.

So, the next time you hear Nirvana in the grocery store or see Indiana Jones in the summer multiplex yet again, let it remind you that the Venn diagram between your prime age demographic and the prime era of nostalgic media is close to a perfect circle. Does that mean you should avoid these nostalgic media texts or that they are inherently bad for you? Not necessarily, as many cultural theorists have felt that being aware of how media is attempting to manipulate us as consumers helps us to leverage our awareness to retain a critical media literacy lens. Think of it like manipulation inoculation.

So, strike while the iron is hot, enjoy that DuckTales reboot series, buy an extra tub of popcorn for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Just remember two things: one, that it is the predominant goal of the media companies that own these properties to create feelings of perpetual brand attachment, and two, that soon you won’t recognize or care about the newest crop of remakes being made as Generation Z inevitably jumps aboard the nostalgia train and supplants Millennials as the key consumer age demographic.

Read More:
[Rowman & Littlefield] – Nostalgic Generations and Media


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