The opposite of nostalgia

James Lileks is looking for a name for it:

What’s the word for an exaggerated dislike of a particular time? I know I am nostalgic for things I did not experience, and only see through the pop-culture elements left behind, which communicate incomplete and occasionally misleading messages. But I have antipathy for things I experienced at the fringe of adolescence — not because it was a bad time, or I didn’t like them then, but because they seem now to be the products of a culture that was getting cheap and lazy; it was full of gimcrack baubles turned out by an exhausted system that tried to adapt to the times, but had no strength to put forth any ideas or uphold any ideas that went before. The period from 1967 to 1975, with some stellar exceptions, was just a horrible time for everything, and you can reduce it all down to one middle-aged balding dude with wet hair plastered over his head in brown polyester pants and a mustard-yellow shirt approving one thing after the other because the kids will go for it.

I suspect we can generalize further: if anything worthwhile happened during your bête noire period, it happened in spite of that middle-aged balding dude.

My own “Oooh, take it away!” era runs roughly 1989 through about 1994 or so: it is delineated by changes in my own life, which had only just bottomed out and was in a tediously slow recovery, and by the fact that Mariah Carey was getting massive hit records by sounding like her record producer — Tommy Mottola, you may remember, lives on the road — had stuffed a live ferret into her pants.


  1. Dan Tobias »

    4 June 2014 · 7:23 am

    I know what you mean with Mariah Carey… “Someday” came up on my iPhone playlist last night and there’s a note she sings at the end of it that’s just as you describe.

    But the writer you quote is also right about that early-’70s period in particular… and young people, when free to create without a “middle-aged balding dude” in control didn’t always do a better job of it either; in the ’80s while I was in college and working on the student newspaper, I did a lot of digging in their archives of past issues (going all the way back to the early 1900s), and found the most slipshod and least professional of them to be those from the early ’70s, when everybody involved seemed to be thoroughly burned out and no longer cared about anything.

  2. Dan Tobias »

    4 June 2014 · 7:29 am

    To be more specific about the changes in the college paper style… In the ’50s and early ’60s, they had a high standard of professionalism, probably with a lot of adult supervision, and a rather starchily conformist view on things (an editorial blasted draft-dodgers as unAmerican). Then in the middle of the ’60s they suddenly let their hair down and did a good deal of earnest experimentation, politically and artistically, trying to chainge the world… rather naive, but with some charm to it. Then by 1972 or so, they just seemed to be drifting rudderless, without much left of the ’60s spirit, but nothing of the earlier-era professionalism either; this gradually returned over the remainder of the decade until by 1979 things looked reasonably decent again.

  3. fillyjonk »

    4 June 2014 · 7:30 am

    I don’t have a particular hate for a certain era, just for aspects of the era. Like mid to late 80s “Top 40” music. (If I never hear “Angel in the Centerfold” again, I will be happy). Or the clothing (dear God, the clothing: and why do designers think it’s cool to revive the 1970s or the 1980s? The 1970s pretty much sucked in a lot of ways, and the fashions of the 1980s were fairly eye-searing.)

    Sadly, I think there are a lot of aspects of now that people in the future are going to look back on and shake their heads and go “I’m glad I don’t have to relive that.”

  4. ms7168 »

    4 June 2014 · 8:14 am

    “Centerfold” was more like late ’81 early ’82 but it seemed to live forever as an alternate selection and now as an “80’s oldie”.

    I only have one Mariah Carey song. “Hero” from ’93.

  5. fillyjonk »

    4 June 2014 · 11:03 am

    Well, it seemed like everywhere played that dang song all decade.

    Not too long ago I heard a muzak version of it somewhere and started to twitch. I guess you’re getting old when they start turning pop songs you hated as a teen into elevator music.

  6. CGHill »

    4 June 2014 · 11:45 am

    “Centerfold” first appeared in Billboard on 24 October 1981.

    Incidentally, J. Geils is no longer a member of the J. Geils Band.

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