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November 15

Stranger Times

By Julia Jarvis-Knell

The world is oh so very strange right now. In these uncertain, unknowable times, as we stand by helplessly as another politician, movie mogul, [fill in the blank] male makes another unforgivable gaffe, it stands to reason that we’re all searching for something that returns us to a place where it seemed all, well, just a little less complicated. Yep, it’s time for some good old-fashioned nostalgia, with its rose-tinted view of the past.

Take Stranger Things, for example, with its almost ASMR like opening credits – the pseudo crackles and scratches across the titles, it’s retro score that’s a homage to 80s cult director and composer John Carpenter of Halloween fame. This is a clear case of cultural déjà vu. We’ve seen it all before folks. So relax, get comfortable.

 

Nostalgia’s on the catwalk too, corduroy is everywhere. A comfy staple of academics and guileless socialists, it’s almost un-fashion, timeless and exudes reliability. Want to be prepared for an impending nuclear apocalypse? Or at the very least a winter of food and energy price hikes? What better than corduroy, teamed with an oversized woolly number and what the heck, finish it off with a practical waterproof PVC mac -  and you’ve pulled off the 80s recession chic and totally nailed all 2017's winter trends. 

 

 

But maybe looking back to go forward makes sense as the1980s was a weird time too. In Britain, the arrival and ascendancy of uber Tory Margaret Thatcher, the expansion of The City and social housing sold off en-masse. Then there was the Falklands War, the miner’s strikes but also the arrival of street fashion and club culture - as well as the Walkman, microwave and home computer. It was a transitional time, where the old guard was being replaced with the new. It was all a bit strange, but exciting, the unknown; from technology and politics to an individual’s aspirations, especially women.

 

Back to 2017, with Brexit, Trump, terrorism, consumerism gone crazy, zero-hours contracts, all of it wrapped up in big data manipulated by the algorithmic dark arts...It's easy to see why there's a revival for things that are easier to understand, practical and straight-forward, and not widely shareable. 

For me, the Polaroid camera sums up our current nostalgic phase nicely. Originally invented in 1947 by Edwin Land, it was the world’s first ‘instant camera’ aimed at the optimistic amateur. A pre-cursor to digital photography (the technology that brought about its near demise) Polaroids are officially back and by all accounts in rude health. This retro technology’s ethos is all about capturing the uniqueness of a moment, It's diaristic, personal and creates a small white bordered artefact to cherish. It's the perfect vehicle for modern nostalgia, a comforting reminder that the past was once the present and amongst all the bat shit craziness, there's always space for good times with friends.  

 

 

 

 

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