Why Nostalgia is a Lying Tramp

Dick Hates Shiny HobosRichard Harris is running across a meadow naked. Then Richard Harris, the first Albus Dumbledore for those of you who have never seen Camelot, courts a Native American girl by giving her a shoe. Then, the scene flashes to a mountain lion bringing down a white-tailed doe. This, I assume, is symbolic of Richard Harris’ incredibly poor acting performance bringing down this already painful film.

Finally, Richard Harris is hung from a ceiling by his nipples. This is clearly punishment for his poor acting skills. During his ensuing vision, we learn that he was also an extra on Bonanza and that his spirit animal is a white buffalo.

I let out a groan and press pause. I step to the liquor cabinet and concoct a remedy whose dual purposes are to improve Richard Harris’ acting and somehow clothe him.

Switching it off isn’t an option, either, since I chose to analyze A Man Called Horse for my Social Issues in Film seminar paper.

Surely you are asking the same question I have been asking since Tuesday afternoon – Why, for the love of Sam Waterston, did I choose to analyze this awful film?

The answer is simple – I thought it was a great film.

I sit back on the couch and hit play, and as Richard continues his vision quest I am sent into one of my own.

My vision brings me back to 1987. I am thirteen years old, my spirit animal is a hamster and my gray socks are pulled up to my knees – I didn’t learn about fashion until I was thirty-six. Some would disagree.

I am sitting in front of a television, eating potato chips with my friend Eddie. It is raining outside and we are watching movies. A series of movies and actors appear throughout my vision. There’s Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Chevy Chase and Charles Bronson. Dan Aykroyd is speaking like a nerd, Lee Marvin is grinning his tough guy grin and Rodney Dangerfield is jerking his tie around. There are movies about cowboys and Indians, prisoners of war in Germany, Singapore and Vietnam, those who bust ghosts, monsters who visit dreams and rogue cops with catchy one-liners.

In this vision, 1987 Me is thoroughly enjoying the festival while 2012 Me is left to doubt his taste in films. My vision offers this insight: often times, enjoying the memory of a film is better than enjoying the film itself.

Or in other words, I was tricked by that bar tramp known as nostalgia!

The awful truth is that nostalgia has tricked me into choosing this terrible film for my paper topic. The more awful fear is that nostalgia is at the root of all my film loves. This shakes the foundation of my film memories.

Were I to watch him now, would Freddy Krueger still scare me? Is it possible that John Hughes films won’t make me feel that it’s OK to be an everyday dork living in the suburbs? Can Chuck Norris really make someone explode by karate kicking them? And will the line “Ray, when someone asks if you’re a God, you say yes!” fail to make me pee-laugh?

This calls for a private weekend film-festival. I’d invite you all, but apparently I have crap taste in films.

When I come back from my cocktail-induced vision, Richard Harris is chief of this tribe and has evidently taught the entire Crow nation Pidgin English.

I make another cocktail, this one meant to inspire me to start writing the paper I have promised the professor: Post-Colonial themes in A Man Called Horse.

Better make it a double.

What film is evident of you being tricked by nostalgia?

  1. #1 by Aaron Wevodau on February 2, 2012 - 6:08 pm

    I too have crap taste in films as my wife will attest. I forced / tricked her into watching The Man Who Would Be King several years ago. Oh, she hated that movie so very much.

    To address your question, I have always loved Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man which, if memory serves, was voted on a worst movies of all time list some years ago. I still think this is a thoroughly enjoyable film, even all these years later, and despite the fact that Big John Studd has a feature role.

  2. #2 by Andy on February 2, 2012 - 9:53 pm

    Recently re-watched Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. David Bowie still makes me want to grab the inventor of spandex by the lapels and scream, “Whyyyyyyyyyy????!!!”, but otherwise, I can safely state that my childhood memory of the awesomeness of those movies is still accurate through my 31 year old eyes.

    Sadly, I caught a random A-Team re-run over the Christmas holiday; it made me die a little inside.

  3. #3 by Collin on February 3, 2012 - 12:59 am

    Well, considering I was only 4 years old in 1987, I’m probably gonna throw out some different titles from a few years later. I was a huge fan of Jean Claude Van Dam and Segal films. I remember “Blood Sport” “Double Impact” “Kickboxer” “Above the Law” “Marked for Death” to name a few. These were possibly the most badass guys on the planet and the copious amounts of softcore nudity didn’t hurt either. Now I just laugh at Segal’s greased ponytail (Michael Cain did a movie with him, why?) and Van Dam’s slow-mo facial expressions and grunts. My mom always questioned the taste in VHS rentals that my brother Nick and I had and now I can see why. We did however spend a ton of money on video rentals so that’s probably why the guys behind the counter at the video store didn’t ask too many questions when we rented R rated movies without mom there to say it was ok

    On the flip side, I remember watching Apocalypse Now when I was probably about 12 and thinking, this movie is supposed to be one of the best ever and it’s long, boring and very, very strange. Why were fireworks so interesting to that surfer guy? And the bald guy looks nothing like that other guy from that other supposedly great movie with Al Pacino. What’s was up with that? And why are there French people in Vietnam? I watched the extended 3 or so hour version a couple of years ago and said this is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen.

    What movies became better as you got older?

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