Monday, September 26, 2011

The Way We Were

Lion King 3-D is the number one movie in the country for the second week in the row. Today, several articles hailed its showing as the surprise hit of the year. Disney is even considering extending dates. A traditional pre-computer animation cartoon released more than a decade ago (1994) re-released in 3-D format, how did it gain such speed?

Well, if you're a 20-30-something American, the most surprising aspect of this story is the fact that industry insiders didn't anticipate this audience reaction. To Generation Me Lion King represents Disney's golden age: Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King. With its identifiable archetypal characters, the theme of a hero's journey, an Academy-Award winning Elton John/Tim Rice soundtrack and characters voiced by James Earl Jones and JTT/Jason Weaver, Lion King taught us about life and death and redemption in a fun, sing-along way.

It makes perfect sense that kids, especially grown-up kids, flocked to the theater the past two weekends. While new audiences discovered the movie, friends of mine attended screenings where the audience sang along and shouted out dialogue. Call me quick to label, but I find Millennials to be the most nostalgic group I know.

Here's an (condensed) exchange I had with one of my best friends the other day:
S: I'm excited, I never got to see Lion King on the big screen.
D: Really? It's the second movie I saw in a theater, after Aladdin.
S: I love Aladdin! I saw it too, and we stayed after in the theater to watch it again. Aladdin was hot.
D: Especially as the prince.
S: What was his name? Ali Ababwa?
D: Yep. The song went: Prince Ali, fabulous he, Ali Ababwa.
S: Strong as 10 regular men, definitely.

... And then we realized, we - two grown-ass 25 year-olds - know all the lyrics to that song. In fact, I'd venture to guess we know all the lyrics to every song in that movie.

Why are we so obsessed with our childhood fascinations? I've observed with some curiosity that the average age of writers has to be 25. Lately, the PopWatch blog has dedicated several posts to JTT, SNICK programming and Saved by the Bell, just to name a few.

With the 10th anniversary of 9-11 behind us, I am often told that my generation lost its innocence on the tragic day. Is that the reason we yearn to be reunited with our childhood TV buddies? Ten years ago, there was no YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, social or new media. My family had dial-up Internet and I did not have a cell phone, even though I would soon be driving. Perhaps we are seeking to recapture the feeling we got when we rushed home to catch our favorite shows afterschool, something that seems quaint in the days of On-Demand, Tivo and Internet streaming.

Why do you think Millenials are so nostalgic? Or, maybe I'm being short-sighted. Have humans always been this nostalgic?

1 comment:

jaimelesmots said...

I think most people have a little nostalgia in them. I mean, look at the success of VH1's "I love the..." series. AND think of all the people who break out into full karaoke mode when Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" comes on.

I think it also helps that it was the golden age of Disney animation (although Pixar has been picking up the slack a bit). The Lion King was one of the last really, really well written and executed Disney animation film.

And for the record, I think I had a crush on JTT for about 5 minutes, he's boyishly cute, and I love SNICK.

Mark and I watched Rocko's Modern Life and Hey Arnold on Netflix last Saturday because there were no good cartoons on basic over the air channels.

I'm done with my novel of a comment now :-)