Thursday, March 9, 2017

Story 176: Nostalgia for Hire

            (Eight movie studio vice-presidents are meeting around a conference table)
            VP 1: All right, we’re in the midst of an official disaster here, folks; I mean, look at these box office sales.  (Points to a graph that has a downward slope into the negatives) I didn’t think that was even possible, and yet here we are.  And look at those reviews that I made copies for you all: (Reads from a pile of papers) “This film made me want to reverse my own birth: not die, because that means I would have lived to watch it, but never having been born in the first place, so as I would never have had to experience the horrors of that so-called ‘family comedy.’”
            VP 2: That guy’s just a troll; he posts that same comment for all of our movies.
          VP 1: Oh yeah?  Then what about this: “Humanity is the worse for this studio’s attempts at entertainment.  The plagues should take us all now for its sins.”
            VP 3: A bit dramatic, don’t you think?
           VP 1: “Every single movie this studio has released in the past 10 years is another proof of why the state of modern cinema is so wretched.”
            VP 4: There may be some truth in that one.
            VP 1: (Slams papers onto the table) We’re going bankrupt, VPs!  We needed a solution seven years ago; now we need a miracle!
            VP 5: Did somebody say, “miracle?” (Walks to the door)
            VP 1: I just did, aren’t you listening to me?!
            VP 5: No, you ruined it; never mind – fellow executives, meet this studio’s savior. (Opens the door to a party)
            (Nostalgia enters, throwing warm feelings around the room like confetti)
            Nostalgia: Welcome all, to my wonderful world of eternal happiness!
         (She spreads joy throughout the room as all the executives revert to childhood: VP 6 starts spinning in her chair, VPs 1-2, 7, and 8 play tag, VP 3 curls up in a corner holding a blanket and sucking his thumb, VP 5 hand-walks across the table, and VP 4 runs around the room screaming “Endless Summer!”)
            Nostalgia: Now that I have your attention.
            (Everyone immediately resumes their original positions around the table, except they now all have goofy smiles on their faces)
            Nostalgia: You see what your audiences want, don’t you?
            VP 2: Escape!
            VP 4: Laughter!
            VP 6: Freedom!
         VP 8: Well-made works of art that explore real-world issues and offer new perspectives and hope!
          Nostalgia: Wrong!  OK, some of your audiences want that last one, but their sales aren’t what’s going to save you.  The other things you guys said, what do they all mean?
            (The VPs look at each other)
            VP 1: They mean… escape, laughter, and freedom?
            Nostalgia: They mean your past!  You want to escape to when you were always laughing and always felt free!  You want to be a kid again, and movies are one of the few forms of media that make it happen!
            VP 1: Are you sure about that?
            Nostalgia: When was the last time you felt truly, and I mean truly, happy in your life?
         VP 1: Oh that’s easy – when I was 14.  That’s when high school happened and it was all downhill from there.
           Nostalgia: Uh-huh.  And when you re-watch a movie from before then, you start feeling that old happy feeling again, don’t you?
            VP 1: Well yes, as a matter of fact I do.
            Nostalgia: Whereas if you watch a movie from now, you feel the same old ennui, the same old malaise, the same old – what’s another non-English word for “blegh?”
            VP 3: (Raises hand wildly) Ooh, ooh, schadenfreude?
            Nostalgia: Go back to film school – the point is, none of the movies you’re producing now is giving your audiences what they really want: their pasts.
            VP 7: So you mean we should do more historical pics?
          Nostalgia: (Stares coldly at her for a few moments) I mean, go make movies of what your audiences loved when they were kids.
            VP 1: Oh, you mean remakes.
           Nostalgia: Remakes, reboots – bottom line, you want your audiences reliving their good old days.  They’ll eat it up like stale buttered popcorn, with salt, and beg for more.
          VP 3: (Raises hand) We’ve tried this a few times and lost money in refunds – quite a few people have said that we actually ruined their childhood.
Nostalgia: (Rummages in bottomless bag) That’s why you post this at your box offices nationwide.  (Holds up a sign that reads: ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS FOR THE FOLLOWING MOVIES:)
VP 7: We can’t say “absolutely” –
Nostalgia: Why ever not?
VP 7: Because what about someone who, I don’t know, bought tickets early and then had a death in the family?  That wouldn’t be fair.
Nostalgia: FAIR?! (Everyone else jumps back) Is it fair that you all had to grow older and never get to have real fun anymore? Is it fair that you lost your innocence and happiness in exchange for debt and neverending stress?  Is it fair that something like me has to exist in the world at all?!  (They rest think about this sadly) And I agree: we should add “AFTER START TIME” in the middle of the sign.
VP 1: Well, you’ve given us a lot to think about.      
Nostalgia: (Packs up sign and prepares to leave) Darn tootin’.  Just know that I’m here whenever you can’t face your day.  (Showers some more confetti, then leaves)
VP 5: So, what do you all think?  Want to climb aboard the nostalgia train to win more profits and better reviews?
VP 1: Why not?  I like my past exploited as much as the next person.

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