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photos by Lara Shipley


January 15th, 2008 · 15 Comments

My first thought upon being sent this Ashlee Simpson video was: “How bizarre! This is basically just a string of visual and aural quotes from 1980s pop culture, but it’s pitched at a demographic that—unlike, say, many viewers of Family Guy or fans of New Wave revival bands—can’t possibly be nostalgic for the 80s. Hell, half of them weren’t even born in the 80s.” Then it occurred to me that when I was a high school student in the 90s, most of my friends and I were wearing tie-dyes and listening to the Dead and CSNY, in part as a deliberate rejection of the dominant 90s aesthetic. Because you know I love coining the words—I guess if we’re rocking it 80s style, I should call them sniglets—lets dub this phenomenon Agnostalgia.

Tags: Art & Culture



15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Loretta // Jan 15, 2008 at 1:21 am

    how much do I rock for sending you this video via chat? Come on. You know I rock. 🙂

  • 2 Glen // Jan 15, 2008 at 4:45 am

    I think “ignostalgia” might work better. Or maybe that should be nostalgia for things remembered incorrectly?

  • 3 Fin Fang Foom // Jan 15, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I’d say considerably more than half of the demographic that the video was pitched at was not born in the 1990s, I’d guess approaching 100%. I will admit that the song doesn’t actually make my ears bleed, like everything else I’ve heard by Ashlee Simpson. Beyond the “visual and aural quotes” the whole semi-surreal story structure of the video screams pre-1985 music video. All it needs is something decidely non-explosive randomly exploding.

    “Agnostaliga” — is that a soccer league for agnostics?

  • 4 Eric Scharf // Jan 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    While acknowledging that indulging in nostalgia is itself a separate realm of lameness, let me ask, Which is lamer: being too young to remember a given period and then getting the nostalgia wrong, or not being too young but having been so out of touch with popular culture that subsequent attempts at nostalgia are woefully inaccurate? As a potential member of the latter group for the time period at issue, I need to know.

  • 5 Christopher Knight // Jan 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Also–think about Happy Days. When I was 7 years old it was my favorite show. My favorite t-shirt had a picture of “the fonz” with his thumb out saying “aaaaaaaayy.” And we used to have a “50’s day” every year in school.

  • 6 swill // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Could be more that the director, who possibly pitched this idea to AS, is older and actually lived in the 80’s…

  • 7 Luke Stiles // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    This sort of retro fascination always strikes me as lazy, whether it is borrowing from the generation immediately preceding yours, or fetishizing an even earlier time like rockabilly does.

    Doing something original is always an option. Rejection of “the dominant aesthetic” is passive. There are kids out there doing it today, and it was certainly happening when I was a teen in the 80s.

  • 8 Jesse Walker // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Speaking as someone who was born in the ’70s: We’ve been down this road before.

  • 9 Jon Rowe // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

    This retro affinity is always a 20 year thing. Happy Days and American Graffiti were 70s movies that glorified the 50s. The Wonder Years was an 80s show that glorified the 60s. Dazed and Confused and That 70s Show were 90s shows that glorifed the 70s. So you figure in the 00s we’d have 80s shows. And in the 10s we’ll have 90s shows.

  • 10 Cyrus // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:29 am

    For the most part, it’s a 20-year thing, yeah. One exception comes to mind, though: “Back to the Future.” 80s nostalgia for the 50s. And, in the sequel, 80s predictions for the year 2010s. Just think, it’s only seven more years before we have flying cars and Mr. Fusion machines.

  • 11 efrex // Jan 17, 2008 at 11:13 am


    The heck with the Mr. Fusion machines… WHERE’S MY HOVERBOARD?! 🙂

    Now, if this 30-something watches “Back to the Future” with his mother-in-law (as we just did last week), what kinds of nostalgia are we dealing with? ’80s nostalgia? ’50s nostalgia? nostalgic looks at how-the-80s-viewed-the-50s?

    Okay, I need to lie down now; my head’s hurting…

  • 12 Sasha // Jan 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Bowling for Soup’s “1985” made me wonder the same thing.

    And God bless whoever decided that the soundtrack to Disney’s SKY HIGH would be comprised of nothing but covers of 80s hits.

  • 13 Will Wilkinsno // Jan 17, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Great song! You’re in MY head, Ashlee.

  • 14 George McFly // Jan 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Back to the Future, while an indisputably great movie, was not a “trend,” unless I’ve missed the wave of BttF fashions, music, and culture you’re referring to.

    To me, this video is just as influenced by Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali than by the 1980s generally. Am I the only one who sees this? Was there a huge Dali trend in the 80s that makes a Dali reference essentially an 80s reference? Look here for Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Vision:”

  • 15 mds // Jan 18, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    And in the 10s we’ll have 90s shows.

    Which, given Mr. Sanchez’s observation about the unimaginative nature of 90’s pop culture, will be shows about 70’s nostalgia. And then the spacetime continuum will implode. See you all on the other side!