Journal Title: Wide Screen
Vol. 9, No.1, July 2022
ISSN: 1757-3920
URL: http://widescreenjournal.org

Abstract: The recent boom in representations of the 1980s is plainly evident in visual media, where television series like The Goldbergs, The Americans, and Stranger Things and films like It: Chapter One, Everybody Wants Some!!, and Wonder Woman 1984 use the 1980s as both a narrative setting and a marketing device. The cultural meanings of this style of mass-memory have been categorized into a variety of “flavors” by film scholars. Texts that represent the ’80s as a carefree time of affluent frivolity—one of the most common “tropes” in ’80s nostalgia—indulge, for all of their upbeat zaniness, in “melancholic” or “reflective” nostalgia. Instances of “restorative” nostalgia can also be identified in representations of the ’80s, most notably in the novel Ready Player One and its film adaptation, as well as in films like Son of Rambow and Turbo Kid. Brett Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel, American Psycho, along with its 2000 film adaptation, epitomizes the anti-nostalgic representation of the 1980s, as does Ellis’ more recent novel, The Informers, and its 2008 adaptation. Much more common in recent filmic and television representations than Ellis’ strident anti-nostalgic stance, however, is a “deconstructive” approach that acknowledges and solicits the appeal of ’80s nostalgia, while also articulating a warning against the lure of this appeal. This is the dominant style of nostalgia that animates recent popular texts such as Stranger Things, GLOW, Cobra Kai, The Americans, and Wonder Woman 1984, and indeed, it may be a style of representation that differentiates ’80s nostalgia definitively from former nostalgic cycles centered around the 1920s, ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.