Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Gen Z’s favorite vice: nostalgic escapism

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Mariana Ramos

One of the commercials that aired during Super Bowl LVIII caused quite the controversy within the hot political climate of this year. The sound of horns and a snare drum over a grainy background graced the American airwaves once again. In a gross display of American Values, a political action committee in support of their choice of president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. plastered his face over his slain uncle’s iconic “Vote for Kennedy” 1960 political ad.  

This was not merely a display of playing into the power and brand recognition of the Kennedy family’s stranglehold on the American political system; this was an easy and cheap way to play into America’s obsession with its bygone golden age. The propaganda of the feel-good carelessness that was the 20th century evokes not only hazy memories of its remnants but also envy from those who followed the time. 

Gen Z has a peculiar obsession with nostalgia; they cannot seem to get enough of it. Scroll across any of your social media, Instagram being best at this, and it will take no time for you to find some Zoomers decked out in fashion from the late 20th century doing a fit check over a popular track representative of the time. The bigger the record player, the bigger the fanatic of the vintage aesthetic. 

While there is nothing wrong with buying vintage clothes at Goodwill or picking up a pre-owned vinyl record of your favorite divorced dad band, the issue comes when nostalgia begins to impede the progress within popular culture. Brands that have spanned generations, such as Nike and Levi’s, abuse nostalgia as a cheap cop-out to stop innovating. The resurgence of the re-release has created an easy and cheap way for companies to create massive profit off an older design without having to put time and effort into a new product. 

Looking at the cinema and media giants of Hollywood for example, “Top Gun” finally got its sequel after 36 years. Paramount made 124 million dollars on opening weekend alone from the three-decade-old intellectual property. Netflix’s hit show “Stranger Things” has been attributed to another generation’s obsession with 1980s American music and culture. Now, we even see presidential candidates lacking creativity and reusing successful slogans and adverts for their campaigns. 

As a generation and as a culture, we have fallen into the dangerous grips of stagnation. If the 20th century was known as the golden age of the West, the 21st century must be the crumbling of it. The prevalence of nostalgic escapism has created a lack of personal identity within our own time. We use these avenues to relieve our minds of our current troubled existence. But the more we neglect our current time, the more we as a generation lose in creating a precedent and identity in our time and place. 

Remember the past for what it is, and appreciate the songs and tomes from its survivors. As for the present, it is up to us to mold and cement our vision with the promise of a future dependent on the present for its foundation.

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Kingman, Assistant Opinion Editor
Nicholas is a freshman CAP student who joined The Paisano in Summer 2023. He is a San Antonio Native and is excited to stay home for another year.
Mariana Ramos, Graphic Artist
Mariana (She/They) is a freshman Sociology major from Houston, and this is her second semester at The Paisano. Outside of the organization, you can usually find them starting a new book, studying history, or discovering new albums to listen to. She joined the Paisano to begin her journey as a digital artist and expand her creative abilities.

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