Column: Past comforts turned pandemic pastime: Why everyone is looking for comfort in the familiar

You may have noticed that a lot of older media and franchises were having a resurgence on the Internet seemingly out of nowhere. Whether it was the shocking amount of people discussing the final season of Supernatural, the Twilight renaissance, or an uptick in people interested in old subcultures that had fallen out of fashion.

What exactly has prompted these to occur? Is it simply coincidence, or is there something else going on?

Revisiting past interests is not a new phenomenon, of course. Many adults find themselves rediscovering their old favorite bands or shows and realizing why they loved them in the first place (or wondering why they ever liked them).

The difference here is the circumstances and drastic changes undergoing life and the status quo as we once knew it, and its effects on everyone.

It’s glaringly obvious that the world right now is unfamiliar and unpredictable. Major events are happening seemingly by the minute, heightened stress and anxiety levels are causing nerves to skyrocket, and uncertain futures loom over teens and adults alike. What can one do to cope in such scary times? The answer is simple: go back to what you know.

Indulging in past interests is cathartic to many. It allows you to remember a simpler time where life wasn’t so unpredictable and scary. It can serve as a form of escapism from the horrors of everyday life and remind you of a time when life wasn’t hectic and scary. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your mental health is turn on BBC’s Sherlock for the first time since 2013 and forget about the world for just a few hours (until you remember what hot garbage the fourth season was and shut it off in a blind rage, of course).  

All of what I’ve said might seem pretty obvious, and it is. Again, there’s nothing new about looking back on your old interests, especially in a time like this. What I want to focus on is how this affects not just those who are going back to the past, but those who may be experiencing those interests for the first time.

Though I’m a bit young to be experiencing this to its full extent, I’ve noticed the discussion around older media increase over the last year. Through this discussion and reintroduction into the mainstream, I’ve been able to discover older franchises, bands, and general knowledge that I hadn’t known about before since I’d been too young to experience them in their heyday or be along for the ride when the excitement had been in its peak.

I’m not the only person who this is happening to either. Many people my age are starting to notice the wave of older people looking back on the media of their childhoods and taking interest along with them. 

What this is doing is creating a cycle. Old fans take a look back at an old property and start discussing it more, whether the discussion is positive or negative. Younger generations decide to check out the property for themselves and see what all the fuss is about.

Those young people either contribute to the discussion and move on or become fully invested and interested in said property, either choice drumming up more attention and bringing in others to see it. 

As a result of more attention being put onto these properties, the creators and already-established fandom become thrust back into the limelight. Even more attention is received and the cycle repeats over and over. More fans equals more fan content which means more discussion which means even more fans. 

Once interest in the property is renewed, good things can happen to it. One major example is the rumors of a season 4 of NBC’s “Hannibal,” a TV show canceled way back in 2016, being spread as a result of the renewed interest.

The fourth movie in the “Twilight” series, “Midnight Sun,” a writing of the original book told from protagonist Edward’s perspective, also garnered a lot of engagement and revenue for the author Stephanie Meyer. 

So, what’s the point? 

Pop culture goes through phases. This is just another phase. What’s important here is how it’s happening. 

With so many people finding solace in their old interests, it’ll be very interesting to see how the landscape of media shifts within the next few years. Will we see more pieces of media inspired by older properties released in the near future? Will those my age start creating based on those older interests? Or will this all end with the rising downturn of the pandemic and we will go back to more recent media? Only time will tell.

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