The strangest things people nostalgify.

Nostalgia is a weird thing. The 1960s were an incredibly intense time… the world came close to being annihilated in a nuclear shootout, and social convulsions and riots rocked America to its core. Yet we think of those years as some sort of “golden age”, with retro throwbacks to that era in everything from interior design to Hollywood.

But at least nostalgia for those years makes sense. That was the decade we made it to the moon, “peace and love” was the catchphrase of the day, and optimism about the future abounded.

Also, lots of pretty, pretty colors.

But some things people nostalgify make no sense to me. Like…

The Civil War

This year is the 150th anniversary of the conflict that claimed more American lives than any other. It was a brutal, bloody conflict, made worse by the fact that the Union and Confederate armies had highly-advanced weapons yet fought like it was still the Napoleonic Wars, marching in nice, neat rows in open fields. And the medicine of the day couldn’t really handle the wounds these advanced weapons caused, and many more people died of infection and disease than the bullet that hit them.

Now, just relax. I'm going to saw off your leg.

Yet, somehow, this great American tragedy has become the weekend hobby of people across the nation. I’m sure you’ve seen those people who dress up in blue or grey uniforms. They will gather in public parks and reenact some battle, acting like they’re having a grand old time.

The weird part is, you never see people doing this for other wars. When was the last time, besides watching the History Channel, you saw people reenacting Vietnam? Or the War of 1812? Or World War II? I don’t get it.

The Great Depression

The Waltons. Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Seabiscuit. All of these Hollywood movies about what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”.

When you walk into Home Town Buffet you see this on the wall:

The Great Depression is probably up there with the 1960s as the decade we like to nostalgify the most. We look back on those “innocent” years fondly, when times were supposedly simpler. Life was all baseball and swimming holes and the New Deal, according to our society’s collective memory.

Actually, the great depression looked more like this:

I suppose enough said.

The Cultural Revolution

You may remember the Cultural Revolution from my biography on Deng Xiaoping. Essentially, Mao Zedong created a period of state-sponsored chaos and civil war over ideological purity. Many people died, while many more were tortured, imprisoned in faraway camps, and scarred both physically and psychologically.

Yet to today’s Chinese youth, these years evoke nostalgia. People take vacations to see the camps where their parents were imprisoned. There are Cultural Revolution-themed restaurants where tourists can be play-tormented by the Chinese pals.

A good time, I guess?

Then there is this:

Yeah, I have no idea what that was, either.

Nazis. Freaking Nazis.

Do a Google Image search of “Nazi Chic” if you dare, but be warned that it will give you nightmares.

If you do, you will notice lots of Asian faces in those pictures. This is because Nazi chic is apparently popular among rebellious youth in Japan. I guess that makes sense, since Japan was on their side in the war. But seriously, guys. They’re Nazis! What is wrong with you?

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