Nostalgia hit millennials when creator was honored in seconds long cameo
Stephen Hillenburg had a “sweet victory” at the Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3, as Maroon 5 played a brief tribute to the mastermind behind the beloved Nickelodeon Cartoon, “Spongebob Squarepants.”
Hillenburg, who passed away in November 2018, would have loved to see Spongebob up on the big screen during the halftime show, and the decision to tribute him was in response to a change.org petition that gathered over 1.2 million signatures to have “Sweet Victory” played at the Super Bowl.
That is a lot of signatures, and even more amazingly, that’s a lot of millennials who rallied to the cause of having their beloved childhood cartoon displayed at the traditional event. For myself, and I’m sure many other millennials, the tribute gave a sense of nostalgia reminding us of younger days, eating cereal and catching an episode of Spongebob in the early morning before we had to catch the bus to grade school.
Hashtags such as “#TBT” and “#FBF” are everyday reminders as we scroll through our Twitter and Instagram feeds that our generation is stuck in a previous era. We have often been dubbed as the “generation of nostalgia” for many reasons. But why is nostalgia so prominent in our popular culture, and why is it that so many young adults seem to experience difficulties moving on from their beloved childhood memories? Why did we as a generation choose to resurrect the 90s mom jeans, Pokémon, old Nirvana vinyl records and other nostalgic memories from an era we can barely remember?
Maybe it isn’t the 90s that we long to bring back, but maybe it’s simply our childhood. It’s often been speculated that as millennials we remember a totally different era, one in which technology existed, then as technology took off so rapidly in the late 2000s we were forced into a whole new world that many of us had to adapt very rapidly to keep up with. In 2016, Dr. Tim Wildschut, an associate professor of Psychology at the University of Southampton, who focuses on studying nostalgia, stated in an interview with Grazia, “Scholars have proposed that change—be it in society or in our personal lives—triggers nostalgia. And that nostalgia then functions to maintain a sense of stability and continuity over time.”
Essentially, we live in a time of turmoil and uncertainty here in our country and recalling the memories of our childhood can often give us a sense of security and escape from the real world and everything happening around us.
In an article by Jarius Bradley published Nov. 14, 2016 in The Odyssey, he speculates that, “The future is less promising now than virtually any other point in recent history. Many people, including President-Elect Donald Trump, feel that the American Dream is dead. This causes Millennials to beckon back to a more innocent time before the wars, recession, and internet took over.”
This is a lot of speculation, but one thing is for certain, and that is that today’s young adults aren’t ready to forget their childhood so easily. As we age, it is my hope we will continue to introduce the next generation to the beloved characters of our childhood such as Pikachu, the Rugrats, and most of all, Spongebob Squarepants.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.