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What's Behind America's Fascination With 1990s Nostalgia?, Massachusetts Newspaper Asks Prof. Kevin Howley

What's Behind America's Fascination With 1990s Nostalgia?, Massachusetts Newspaper Asks Prof. Kevin Howley

July 25, 2004

July 25, 2004, Greencastle, Ind. - "'The 1990s was a rather idyllic and innocent decade,' said Dr. Kevin Howley, professor at the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media at DePauw University in Indiana," writes Kristi Palma in today's edition of the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Massachusetts. The story examines the recent focus on the people, culture and events of the 90's. "Some experts call the instant nostalgia 'recycled pop culture,' a cheap way for publishers, producers and broadcasters to make another buck off events and trends that are proven audience draws from the past." Palma states, "But beyond that, experts say, the country's mood is at work here: Fear and insecurities over terrorist threats and a shaky economy have us missing days of peace and prosperity."

Howley, assistant professor of communication arts and sciences, tells the newspaper, "We tend to look back quite often. What is new is how quickly this turn toward nostalgia has happened. The turn around time is a bit surprising." Palma adds, "The proven success of nostalgia shows and newscasts that recycle past scandals are attractive to networks and advertisers, said Howley. Add to this an edgy nation looking for reprieve from the realities of war and terrorism, and '90s nostalgia has become a phenomenon."

"Nostalgia for 'the good old days' of the 1990s resonates with an American public that grows increasingly insecure," says Dr. Howley. "In turn, this nostalgia greases the wheels of commerce." Writer Palma notes, "The release of President Clinton's autobiography this summer is an example of the profit and distraction these events offer, said Howley. It triggered a media field day, reviving tabloid talk of Clinton's sexcapades. 'Thus 'nostalgia' for the 1990s relieves media outlets from dwelling on the far more troubling and troublesome aspects of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and the prospects of renewed terrorist attacks,' said Howley. 'In troubled times, however, the impulse to live in the past is fraught with danger. We've got to look at the past and understand why we're in this present climate and not look back at some of these sort of trivial events,' said Howley."

Access the complete story at the newspaper's Web site by clicking here.

Source: North Andover (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune