Forsgren: Good old days for nerds or nostalgia goggles?

The Art of Nerding Out

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Adam Forsgren puts on his nostalgia goggles and ascends to an 8-bit plane of existence.

For nerds, geeks and other pop culture junkies, nostalgia can be as powerful as a Death Star tractor beam. The movies, comics, music and video games we grew up with are part of our formative experiences, and the stuff kids have today just doesn’t compare. But is that really how it is? Are movies of yesteryear truly superior to contemporary flicks? What about the music and comics? Were the “good old days” really better?

Video games

For me, games never got better than “Tecmo Super Bowl.” It was a simple game, easy to learn and to master. You didn’t need to know six dozen button combinations to be able to play. You could pick up a controller, and in the course of an evening, you could be competitive.

For me, the simplicity of gaming back in the day is what made it better. I’m just don’t have the patience to learn how to fully operate an Xbox or Playstation controller and I get too frustrated trying to learn games. It’s not worth it. The only current games that I enjoy are the LEGO games, like “LEGO Star Wars” or “LEGO Marvel Universe.” Those are relatively simple games I can pick up pretty quickly. The rest of the games require too much brain power to be fun. Kind of like math.

Plus, we had video arcades back in the day, and even though I sucked at the games, I loved hanging out there. So, yeah, I think video games used to be better when I was a kid.


Like any art form, the comic book has evolved over the course of its existence. Complex story arcs, complicated interweaving storylines and morally ambiguous characters make today’s comics less entertainment for kids and more literature for mature readers.

The move toward digital technology has also affected comics, as more and more books are being released online and sales of physical books sag. The industry has resorted to major crossover events and ridiculous story machinations (like Captain America being a Hydra agent) to hang onto readers.

To be honest, my favorite era of comics isn’t even the stuff that was coming out when I was a kid. I prefer the cheesy, old-school stuff penned by the likes of Stan Lee.

And although classic stories are still being penned and inked, I have to say that on the whole, comics were better back in the day.


There seems to be a notion that no bad music was produced back in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and even the ’90s. Having lived through the ’80s and ’90s I can tell you for a fact that is false. There was plenty of terrible pop, rock, country and metal produced during those days. Heck, hindsight has convinced some folks that dreck like Rick Astley or Tears for Fears is actually good.


But the fact is that we only remember the classic stuff. The stuff like U2 or Nirvana. The substandard stuff disappears beneath the waves of time. I’d be willing to bet the same is true for the ’60s and ’70s.

One thing that’s for sure is that music now is much more corporate and much less creative. Pop songs are repetitive drivel over a beat you can dance to. Country is a sad retread of classic Southern rock, crooned by hunky lunkheads like Luke Bryan.

Fortunately, there is still experimentation and passion found in the fringes of rock, hip hop and metal. And kids are still being inspired to pick up instruments and create new and interesting sounds. As long as this remains the case, I think music has a bright future. I’ll call this one a draw.



Hollywood films of today are less visual storytelling and more feature-length ads for merchandising. The corporate stink has even crept into film sagas I love, like “Star Wars”
and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most big movies feel like they have no personality, no soul. Even the good ones can suffer from this.

That’s not a problem with movies from back in the day.

Watching “Ghostbusters,” “Animal House” or an Indiana Jones flick, you can feel the personalities of of the people who made them. A Spielberg movie feels like a Spielberg movie. Most directors today are fairly interchangeable, with the possible exceptions of Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan.

It leads to an interesting conundrum. Movies that I’ve wanted to see my whole life are being made right now. But I keep wondering what they would be like if they were made back before studios made it nearly impossible for a movie the have personality. You know, back when movies were better.

Huh, maybe the old days really were better. Or maybe my nostalgia goggles are just on too tight.


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