Updated: May 9
Baby boomers, Gen X’ers, and millennials seem to share one thing in common - a deep love for the 1980s. Since we closed the book on the popular decade, we haven’t escaped its unforgettable legacy. Hollywood identified the nostalgic demand quickly and continues 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 and beyond, moviegoers and professional Netflix n Chillers have spoken (with their wallets) that they want the 80s again. Unfortunately, no one can go back to the 80s unless you have a time-traveling Delorean sitting in your backyard. However, an interesting discussion exists with the following question:
Why do modern audiences gravitate toward the past instead of the future?
The question is complex and involves more than just movies, but the nostalgia phenomenon questions the quality of our post-modern society. As history has proven time and time again, harsh times prompt us to look to the future for the hope of a brighter tomorrow. Why now, do we look to the past in lieu of a promising future?
To discover the answer to this question, we need to understand the beginnings of an era that started shortly after World War II - the Boomers. 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 1980s was the final chapter of the social revolution before computers, and the internet exploded.
Before the post-modern world launched itself at never-before-seen speeds, you broke the rules and lived for yourself. 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, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Lost Boys, Roadhouse). Throughout different genres of film, the rebel spirit existed at the core of the story.
How does that differ from the post-millennial era?
Well, let's analyze the social landscape in context. In the 80s 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 civil liberties, tech companies own over a decade’s worth of knowledge on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, whereabouts, and social circles. The ability to live as a true rebel is nearly impossible unless you unplug from the digital world and go off the grid. Since that isn't a viable solution for most people, some find themselves caught in between a rock and a hard place. In addition, social media companies use your information to suppress or exploit you. Many times, both.
The ecosystem of social media interconnects with job applications, retailers, subscription services, productivity software, forums, and other websites. It's become virtually impossible for these companies to not have any information about you. If evil didn't exist this centralization wouldn't be a problem, but these companies sell your information to the highest bidder, to be used for arbitrary purposes.
Does that sound like a promising future?
In the 1980s, you could live the stages of your life anonymously - party like a rockstar, grow up, get a job, and start a family. A mass collection of historical records detailing a controversial period in your life wasn’t floating around a web of digital servers that spanned the edges of the earth.
Now, teenagers and young adults document their coming-of-age like it’s going to be a mass-published picture book. Generations growing up in the age of social media are building tomorrow’s social prison because they can't say no to the instantaneous gratification of validation. These digital records will affect the quality of life. It may not be apparent in the short term, but 5, 10, or 20 years down the road, there will be consequences - good or bad.
Beyond our social consequences, overreaching government and corporate control using our digital footprint will continue into the future. When it comes to the question of the future, it sounds like a hopeless one without freedom. Most people don't look forward to a 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 because none of it exists.
Even though we relish in the conveniences of modern technology, we long to be free from their shackles.
Welcome to the era of the rebel - the 1980s.
Why has storytelling changed since the 1980s?
Recently, I produced a comedic video called Why Modern Movies Suck that scrapes the surface on the issues I discuss 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 80s rocked the world not too long ago, massive changes have occurred in the last 30 years that have warped the landscape of visual storytelling.
In the post-millennial age, the ism-brigade controls and influences all of the 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. Just imagine all the 'loving' isms that are consistently promoted in social justice circles. These isms interbreed, creating new doctrines of subjugation that depend on power and control which is the opposite of the rebel spirit.
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 that is the oldest and most powerful tool to shape thoughts, feelings, and the future. Stories arouse emotion. If you know anything about marketing, there is an old saying 'facts tell, stories sell.' That is because most purchases are emotionally based and what better way to influence your purchase than through emotional manipulation which stories do every day.
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.