#Septemblog Day 23: Nostalgia Goggles.

Folks of a certain age (specifically, around mine) sometimes talk about how kids programming and cartoons currently on offer have gotten…weird. (That’s not even to address the disconcerting level of social programming and progressive messaging that is rife in current pop culture and has definitely worked its way into content for even the youngest of viewers–I’m looking at you, Blues Clues.)

I’ve just noticed in the last 5-10 years that cartoons are more frenetic, nonsensical, and terribly written than I remember them being in as a child. Compared to what’s popular now, something like the original Ducktales or Animaniacs is positively Shakespearean.

If you’re like me and you have shaken your head and muttered a “kids these days” sometime at the state of current animated television, I’d like to take you back to another era, where the animation was stilted and weird, the music was synthesizer-driven, and the storylines were completely bonkers: the mid-to-late 80’s, when one of the most pervasive animation production companies on television was a fever-dream known as DIC/Saban.

In case you need some reminding, here’s a compilation. It’s an amazing 7 hours long, but you can grab the progress bar and just scroll through randomly to bask in the weirdness of kids TV from 35 years ago:

(I don’t remember all of these, but I may have hummed along with half-forgotten theme music more than once.)

Let’s just say, my Gen X and Xennial brethren, we have no right to make judgments on what the kids are watching these days, at least in terms of story or visual style.

Embrace the cheug.

Photo by Thunyarat Klaiklang on Pexels.com

This week, I learned the term “cheugy” and immediately hated myself for it.

Apparently, I’m even now hopelessly behind the curve, but, to wit: my understanding of “cheugy” is that it’s a term used by Gen-Z to describe their predecessors as trying and failing to keep up with current style/trends. This term, usually applied to Millenials but equally effective at describing earlier generational tiers, is in the same descriptive wheelhouse as “basic” but describing someone who’s juuuust out of step with the trend, in a cringe-inducing sort of way.

[No, I’m not going to get into the internet conversation about whether or not the term is misogynistic and/or classist, because a) all of this is stupid, and b) I don’t care.]

The reason I bring this up is just to make one brief point: It’s really okay to be considered uncool, because it’s going to happen to all of us eventually.

Yes, yes, I know it doesn’t mean much coming from the south side of the coolness Mendoza line. I just find it funny when I see people online (often Millenials) who suddenly become dismayed at the realization that the wave of haute internet couture has passed them by, leaving them dabbing and yeeting along like so much pop culture flotsam and jetsam.

And before you “OK Boomer” me, my Millenial friend, I hasten to add (somewhat painfully) that by some definitions, I’m considered one of you. (I prefer to identify squarely as an Xennial, because I think that classification best describes me, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Here’s the bitter truth: Time comes for all of us, and there is an ephemeral window in which we each may be in step with the “cool crowd.” Most of the time, we barely realize we’re even in that window before it closes to us forever. Gather ye dank memes while ye may, children.

It’s exhausting and pointless to try to keep up with online trends. Ben Folds was right–there’s always someone cooler than you. Even if you claw your way up to “influencer” or “tastemaker” status, you’re standing on the most unsteady of perches, and all it takes is a tiny change in the cultural winds for you to come tumbling down. Frankly, your precious, limited time on this planet is better spent pursuing something of lasting (or better, eternal) value, rather than chasing the fickle feedback of your peers.

My suggestion, based on personal experience: Stop chasing the cutting edge of cool. Embrace the cheug. Enjoy what you enjoy, even if it hasn’t been popular in months (or, gasp, decades!).

Or better yet, if you’re in my particular age group, go for that “big dad energy” or something like it. It’s inevitable; might as well roll with it. Have some fun even if “fun” isn’t cool. At the end of the day, the delighted laughter of my daughters is worth infinitely more than all the likes and shares that social media can offer me.

I mean, what’s your alternative–being this guy? Don’t be this guy.

How do you do, fellow kids' has become the 'how do you do, fellow kids' of  memes - The Verge