Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy 2006!

What better way to celebrate a new year than by going retro? The Boston Globe has an article by Joanna Weiss on a staple of childhood during the 1970s and 1980s: the After School Special. The article is a delightful blend of nostalgia and narcissism, showing my generation's tendency to imbue its past with the same sort of importance that Gen-Xers lavish on themselves.

Here is Josh Schwartz, the 29-year-old creator of "The O.C.," having young Seth make fun of his dad, Sandy, when Sandy decides to intervene to stop his wife's drinking problem. "Is this, like, an After School Special?" Seth sneers. This despite the fact that none of the members of Generation Y watching "The O.C." have any idea what an After School Special is.

Fear not, we aging individuals of the Me Decade are rushing to fill that educational void. "In the last two years," Weiss notes, "distributor BCI Eclipse has issued box sets of 'Martin Tahse's After School Specials,' in packages that look like a locker, a school bus, and a Trapper Keeper notebook." The director of acquisitions for BCI Eclipse is Jeff Hayne, who is -- surprise, surprise! -- 26 years old. Weiss tells us that he "has hosted nostalgia screenings for friends in his apartment."

It could be worse. Weiss notes that the young people of today live in saltier times. Weiss writes that "today's teenagers are precociously cynical; raised on Harry Potter and MTV, (Emerson College professor Martie) Cook says, they are more accustomed to dark themes and quick cuts. They prefer TV to talk to them sideways, from odd angles." So in 20 years, we'll get Harry Potter collector's editions and Real World reunions -- oh, wait, they're already doing that last one already.


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