Science Fiction Film & Television

‘When you get there, you will already be there’

Stranger Things, Twin Peaks and the nostalgia industry

Science Fiction Film & Television (2020), 13, (2), 175–197.

Abstract

This essay reflects on the twenty-first-century media phenomenon of franchise revivals, designated by the term ‘nostalgia industry’. Approaching nostalgia as a term that unites affect with politics and ideology, two different aspects of nostalgia are related to divergent ideological positions, which are in turn historicised in relation to specific historical, media-industrial and socio-economic structures of feeling. An analysis of Stranger Things (US 2016–) illustrates what Svetlana Boym defines as restorative nostalgia: a politically reactionary mode that romanticises the past by refusing to critique or even acknowledge this earlier period’s negative aspects, and presenting it as an alluring retreat from an implicitly less desirable present. By contrast, the dialectical organisation of Twin Peaks: The Return (US 2017) expresses nostalgia’s political and ideological mirror image, as reflective nostalgia is employed to stage an encounter with the past as residual trauma.

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Author details

Hassler-Forest, Dan