“Nostalgia is to memory as kitsch is to art,” claims Charles Maier (1995) in his essay “The End of Longing?” The intricate relationship between nostalgia and memory is also problematized by Todd Gitlin in the introduction to his book The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. Gitlin suggests that all times of upheaval begin as surprises and end as clichés. Such is the fate of the great tidal swells of history – especially in a shorthand culture in which insatiable media grind the flux of the world into the day’s sound bites. Gitlin notes that in our attempts to produce signs that will help us to design the memory of an era, we grapple for ready-made coordinates. “And so, as time passes,” he contends, “oversimplifications become steadily less resistible. All the big pictures tend to turn monochromatic” (4). Likewise, innumerous T-shirts with a portrait of Che Guevara are sold over the world, usually worn by teenagers who do not know anything about this revolutionary commandant and his totalitarian heritage, and slogans like “make love, not war,” “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” and “revolution!,” reminiscent of the 1960s, are heavily clichéd and trivialized by pop stars and advertisers who apply to contemporary bourgeois youth, rebels without a cause. Controversial social fighters are converted into cool poster boys, ideological resistance is turned into photogenic discontent, high ideals become slogans and jingles, dogmatism turns into opportunism, and anarchism is converted into hedonism.
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- Animated Nostalgia and Invented Authenticity in Arte’s Summer of the Sixties
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