Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Whether your a late baby boomer, Gen X’er, or millennial, you seem to have one thing in common - love for the 1980s nostalgia. Since we exited the 80s, we haven’t escaped its unforgettable legacy. Hollywood production companies identified the nostalgiac demand quickly and are relentless to exploit it, making a fortune on carbon-copy remakes and mindless franchise installments. From 2009’s Adventureland to 2016’s television show Stranger Things, audiences have spoken with their wallets; we want the 80s again. Unfortunately, we can never go back, but the 80s will be apart of our hearts forever (or for a very long time).
But why is it that modern audiences gravitate toward the past instead of the future?
The question is complex and involves more than just movies, and more broadly speaking, storytelling, but the nostalgia phenomenon questions the quality of our post-modern society. In harsh times, we have often looked to the future for the hope of a brighter tomorrow. Why now, do we look to the past?
First, we need to understand the beginnings of an era that started shortly after World War II - the boomer era. Born to a generation that lived through the rollercoaster ride of World War II, boomers founded a new adventure - themselves. From the 1950s to the 1980s, America experienced a wild social revolution. It was an age of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. The 80s was the final chapter of the social revolution before computers, and the internet exploded.
Before then, you broke the rules and shot your middle finger to the man. You lived for you. It was the era of the rebel.
The Era of the Rebel
The rebel spirit influenced pop culture in a significant way, especially in the realm of storytelling (i.e., Rambo, Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Lost Boys, Roadhouse).
How does that differ from the post-millennial era?
For one, there was no internet, no social media, no cell phones, and no ism-brigade to mass censor anyone who holds ideological differences about social issues, economics, or politics. Over the last 20 years, social media conflicts have resulted in tech conglomerates restricting freedom of speech and expression.
In addition to eliminating our God-given freedoms, tech companies own over a decade’s worth of knowledge on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, whereabouts, and social circles. Social media companies use your information to suppress or exploit you. Many times, both. When you read that off the page, it sounds like an excerpt out of George Orwell’s 1984 (oh, the irony).
Does that sound like a promising future?
In the 1980s, you could party like a wild youngster, mature, find a job, and build a family. A mass collection of historical records detailing a controversial period in your life wasn’t floating around cyberspace.
Now, teenagers and young adults document their coming-of-age like it’s going to be a mass-published encyclopedia. Young minds and foolish hearts of the post-millennial age are building tomorrow’s social prison because they want to feel validated.
Overreaching government and corporate control is a glimpse of the future for current generations - a hopeless one; without freedom. No one looks forward to the future with doom on the horizon. But once upon a time, life was different. The story was different.
Suspend your disbelief for a moment. Close your eyes. When you open them, you will be waking up at 7 a.m. in 1985. What’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Do you want to read Jan’s emotional Facebook status? Or make sure your girl isn’t cussing you out on text? Or check the empty inbox of no messages on Tinder? Well, you can’t. None of it exists. You are free of technological shackles.
Now, throw on a black t-shirt, jeans, and a denim jacket and get your ass out the door and into the sunshine. Unplug yourself from the matrix, unleash the rebel inside of you, and seize the day.
Who wouldn’t love a movie where you can remember or fantasize about freedom like that? After all, it’s the American dream. It has been since 1776.
Welcome to the 1980s.
Why has storytelling changed since the 1980s?
Recently, we made a comedic video on Why Modern Movies Suck that scrapes the surface on the issues we are discussing here. While the video uses comedy to illustrate our message, a more weighted discussion exists on the subject of post-millennial era movies versus what was produced in the decades before. Even though the timeless 80s rocked the world not too long ago, we have witnessed massive changes in the last 30 years that have warped the landscape of visual storytelling.
In the 1980s, the rebel spirit influenced storytelling that led to the creation of numerous movies no one can forget. But now, the ism-brigade controls and influences all of our pop-culture infecting films, tv, and comic books. Even films that depict the 80s are a far cry from what the 80s were thanks to the ism-brigade reign of terror.
What is the ism-brigade?
The ism-brigade is a collective force of influence starring feminism, leftism, authoritarianism, and communism. These isms interbreed, creating new doctrines of subjugation, but they all depend on power and control- opposite of a free-spirit rebel.
As more isms become fused to the collective brigade, their absolute power grows, and creative freedom wanes. Ironically, these socially regressive ideologies (isms) masquerade as the savior of the post-modernist world.
What does all that have to do with movies?
Movies are a medium of storytelling. Stories are one of the oldest and most powerful tools to shape our thoughts, feelings, and future. In the words of Spiderman’s late Uncle Ben,
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
However, absolute power always corrupts. The power the ism-brigade levies over the movie industry threatens the present and future of our creative freedom and extends to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Any creator who challenges their dominance will be censored and demonized into compliance.
If their power is left unchecked, their evil force will bring about a destructive end to the social fabric of our free society.
How do ism-brigadiers do this?
Well, let’s look at an example. Corporations like Disney have systemically dominated a majority of media companies ranging from national news to movie studios. They have developed an ecosystem that can author the perception of their ism-driven content.
Read Bob Iger’s (Former Disney CEO) quote from a speech he gave about social media at a dinner for receiving a humanitarian award:
“It’s the most powerful marketing tool an extremist could ever hope for because, by design, social media reflects a narrow world view filtering out anything that challenges our beliefs while constantly validating our convictions and amplifying our deepest fears.”
He continued, “It creates a false sense that everyone shares the same opinion. Social media allows evil to prey on troubled minds and lost souls, and we all know that social news feeds can contain more fiction than fact, propagating vile ideology that has no place in a civil society that values human life.”
Place those words in a space vacuum, and it makes sense. Now let’s do what CNN never does- analyze context.
Iger’s words pose a double-edged sword because he runs a company that openly expresses a leftist ideology. He claims to oppose a “false sense that everyone shares the same opinion.” But still, he uses a multi-billion dollar company to propagate a singular social and political agenda in all the movies they produce.
If Disney’s CEO wanted to fight against a false sense of unanimous opinion, why do most (if not all) of their directors and writers explicitly support leftist politics?
Iger is guilty of what he blames everyone else of doing. These whited sepulchers incite more of what they claim to hate. The ism-brigade gaslights us into believing that an ism-brigadier’s beautiful bouquet of meaningless words weighs more than the actions behind them.
Yet, who has the investment and platform to exercise more mental control over you? Susy from the class of ’79 on Facebook, or Disney?
You know who.
Whether the goal is to divide the sexes, emasculate men, label dissenters Nazis, or revise the 80s rebel spirit into a leftist estrogen fest, the ism-brigade seeks to divide and conquer the post-millennial age with absurd stories that reject all common sense.
To understand how modern movies distort stories, we need to look at what makes a story - the Hero.
The Hero's Journey
The hero is a pivotal element of most ancient and modern storytelling. The 80s handled heroes in a fashion that transcends the time, and we witness that timelessness in their endless appeal throughout multiple generations of exposure. How a story builds a hero is where modern storytelling fails in comparison to its superior 80s predecessor. To understand how modern storytelling fails to construct a great hero, we need to discuss the most popularized template of illustrating the hero’s character arc - The Hero’s Journey.
The evolution of the heroes’ journey spans thousands of years from biblical stories to greek mythology to Star Wars and beyond. It’s a circular character arc that takes the story’s hero out of his known world and into an unknown world with grave challenges that he has to face. After he overcomes his challenges, he returns to his known world forever-changed.
However, the hero’s journey met its nemesis in the post-millennial era, where the hero (if you can call it that) receives ism cheat codes to shortcut their journey or forego it entirely. Ism-brigadiers want to reward the hero without earning it.
For example, Rey, in the new Star Wars trilogy, never undergoes any particular personal loss that drastically changes her course or direction. No scars, no amputations, and no error in judgment. The deaths of Han Solo and Ben Solo that she witnesses are negligible because no close and meaningful relationship was ever built between them for death to resonate. The audience cares about Han because we know him from over 40 years worth of Star Wars history, but Rey never knew Han like that. The one character Rey spent the most time with was Leia. Unfortunately, the off-screen context between Episode VIII and Episode IX built their relationship, so there’s no reason for the audience to care for that relationship either. Her entire character experience was poorly contrived to match Luke Skywalker.
Compare Rey’s arc with Luke’s.
The ism-centric method of storytelling contrives mostly everything in modern movies because of social justice politics. It dictates plot, character, dialogue, and casting, making storytelling predictable and uninteresting. The problem with an ism-contrived hero’s journey is that it contains no meritocracy or virtue. If some trendy social justice group shouts loud enough, ism-brigadier writers will alter stories and characters to favor their feelings. In the last several years, one of the biggest culprits in social justice politics destroying the hero’s journey is feminism.
Too often, movies emasculate men, writing them to be weak and incompetent, so a woman, juxtaposed against their ineptitude, can appear dominant. Not only does this methodology of storytelling devalue men, but it also devalues women. Ism-brigadiers inadvertently show women to be incapable of completing the hero’s journey unless it’s made easy for them or non-existent.
Just walk through door number three and become all you ever wanted to be.
If every movie were Aladdin, you could make that make sense, and Hollywood managed to sideline Aladdin’s character so Jasmine could be centerfield. However, she never acquired a magic lamp, but all her wishes came true anyway.
The frequency of this tactic in modern movies illustrates an inferiority complex in a lot of self-demeaning individuals that teach us nothing about who we are in the stories they write, but rather, about who they are.
In the 80s, times were simpler and less complicated than the ism-brigadiers (with too much time on their hands) try to make everything to be. We had heroes that were not tainted by so much absurdity.
If you think Hollywood will ever produce a movie like Terminator, Back to the Future, or The Lost Boys in today’s post-modern climate, think again.
Until more of the masses cast a vote of no confidence in Hollywood with their wallets, the ism-brigade will continue to write stories and produce movies that are at war with reality.
Below are the specific articles I researched for the article.