Nostalgia captivates audiences, especially among our current student body, born predominantly between 2001 and 2004. Movies and television shows drawing from the past create new stories for the present, offering comfort, familiarity, and a temporary escape from modern life’s complexities. Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) students are no exception, finding solace in nostalgic media from various genres, including recent releases like “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and the 2023 “Super Mario Bros. Movie.”
CUW junior Amy Nguyen believes that nostalgia has a powerful effect on storytelling. “When I watch movies from my childhood or revisit iconic characters, it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket,” she said. Filmmakers are increasingly tapping into nostalgia, bringing back beloved characters and expanding their stories.
Senior Zadieah Juarez finds that nostalgic films provide an escape from the stress of college life. “Watching old movies that remind me of the past helps me relax and remember the good times,” she said. This raises the question of whether students genuinely miss the movies and shows from their childhood or if they yearn for the time in their lives when these were popular. It is likely a combination of both, as nostalgic media serves as a portal to formative years, reminding students of the experiences and emotions that shaped their identities.
Perhaps there’s no better example of nostalgic movies that call to the past than two recent theater releases. I’ve worked at a theater for almost a year now and the appeal of these two movies caught me off guard. December’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” was an installment/spinoff in the Shrek franchise and was wildly successful at the box office. When selling tickets for this movie I mostly expected families and young kids to be the customer, but to my surprise, a staggering amount of fellow students of mine here at CUW were in attendance.
The other film that really showed me the power of nostalgia in media was “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” At the time of writing this article, it still rages on at the box office, selling out whole auditoriums weeks after its initial release. This particular nostalgia trip wasn’t exclusive to our student body’s generation though. There have been plenty of Concordia students that I’ve sold tickets to, but there have also been 35-50-year-olds that want to relive the part of their childhood that included the pair of enthusiastic Italian plumbers.
For junior Nick Sands, the appeal of nostalgic media goes beyond entertainment. “Watching older movies and shows helps me connect with my parents and their generation. We can talk about what they were like when they first came out and compare it to now,” he explained. This insight highlights nostalgia’s importance in bridging generational gaps, fostering appreciation for older generations’ experiences, and promoting intergenerational dialogue.
It’s important to recognize the value of watching nostalgic movies while keeping in mind the importance of not getting too lost in the past. The appeal of nostalgia in media raises concerns about its potential effects on young adults. If they continuously seek solace in the past, they might struggle to adapt and grow in the present. While nostalgia can offer comfort, it is crucial for young adults to find a balance between embracing the past and engaging with the present.
From classic Disney movies to recent releases like “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” nostalgia’s timeless allure connects us with the past, present, and future. Understanding the reasons behind our nostalgic tendencies can help us better navigate modern life’s complexities, allowing us to grow and evolve as individuals.
——Julian Koonce is a writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. He is a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications.