I’m staring at an empty can of Ecto-Cooler and trying to remember the last time I thought about the Monkees.
I’m old enough to not be a millennial, but only by two months. Most of the kids who loved “Ghostbusters” and everything that came with the two movies and TV cartoon are just a bit older than me. We’re children of baby boomers – the ones who invented nostalgia by pining for the ’50s and creating Time-Life music collections – who grew up on the last wave of Saturday morning cartoons and not knowing anything about a show or movie until we saw it for ourselves. We were the last generation to get Disney revivals in the theater and the first to burn music to CDs when all of our mixtapes broke.
And we watched “The Monkees,” 20 years after they were popular, thanks to cable TV. The boomers created nostalgia, but Gen X perfected it by growing up to be in charge and convincing artists that they were still viable.
That’s why I have Ecto-Cooler (in a can, ordered from Amazon) and the new Monkees album “Good Times.” My generation, for better or worse, has decided that our childhoods were perfect. Therefore, we don’t make new things. We just redo the things we loved from our early days. All the cartoons from my youthful Saturdays have been remade, re-drawn, made into movies of varying quality or in the case of Ecto-Cooler, moved from a juice into a can that slightly changes color when it gets cold.
Even the Monkees have changed. “Good Times” includes music recorded in the late 1960s and even one vocal track from Davy Jones.
That, people, was the last time I thought about the Monkees – in 2012, when Jones died.
And that is why my generation hangs on to the shows and toys and games from our childhood. Our parents – those baby boomers and flower children – thought they were going to live forever. My generation has always known we would die. Every day that we don’t, we get to look back on times when getting ahold of a drink with a cartoon ghost on it was a big deal. We don’t subscribe to millennial entitlement but we are in the business of supplying their needs.
Be it the Monkees, Ecto-Cooler, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies, or live action versions of classic Disney films, Gen X are the purveyors of nostalgia and we eat it up like candy – probably Pez from a Muppet head.
Tranchell was disappointed in 1987 when he saw the “Masters of the Universe” movie starring Dolph Lundgren and has been oddly bitter ever since.