Stranger Things: nostalgia operation or cult series?

Stranger Things: nostalgia operation or cult series?

Stranger Things

Kate Bush dominates the charts with Running up the Hill. In theaters, Tom Cruise wreaks havoc by playing flying ace Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell. Now before, to go looking for an orange Billy in vain and be disappointed, let's stop for a moment and accept that as much as we would like, we are not back in 1986, but we are still in 2022. Maverick has aged and the immortal Tom Cruise is celebrating his sixties, ready for a final waltz as Ethan Hunt. And Running up that hill, by now everyone knows, has become a recovery hit, driven by the exciting use made of the song in the fourth season of Stranger Things, the cult series of Netflix that has made the nostalgia effect its nature, how much less in the first season.

Since the first appearance of Hawkins' ka-tet, in fact, the series created by the Duffer brothers has been identified as a product packaged on the wave of nostalgia, playing on the memory of who those years there he lived and of those who knew them as a result, surrounded by a series of dynamics that wanted to transform the 80s into the yardstick of perfection. A vision often supported more by personal memory, by the intimate meaning of what we experienced, which conditioned us to idealize this period as our touchstone. In this respect, Stranger Things was the perfect representation of this persistent memory, a photograph softened by memory that brought an entire generation back to seeing itself in the young protagonists, also finding a perfect stylistic key to give the concept of young adult narrative a definition. winning. Doesn't this nature, however, risk condemning Stranger Things to the rank of canvas for nostalgia operations?

Stranger Things: symbol of operations nostalgia or cult series?

In a period in which the great cult of the past are making a powerful return to the big screen, as with Ghostbusters: Legacy, and in which heroes of the small screen of the 80s are the subject of reboots that have shown new versions of cult such as McGyver and Magnum P.I. , it would be unfair to deny that there is a desire to exploit the nostalgia element to attract an audience over 40 by relying on a never dormant love for one's teenage idols. Even running the risk of breaking a pleasant memory, given the difficult task of combining the viewer's memory with modern serial dynamics, different in terms of means and language from that of the 1980s. Stranger Things, despite having subtly played on this emotional link with the past, has managed to go beyond the mere mechanics of nostalgia, making its own not only a quotationistic taste of the period, but trying to infuse the narrative grammar of the period within its own. evolution.

In this fracture we can see the writing of a screenplay which, while aiming to maintain its own identity, wants to avoid the trap of repetitiveness. We can't speak of perfection, given some unfortunate choices, but it is a sign of the strength of the series, which seeks new directions to explore, while remaining faithful to its original spirit. And it also does so by exploiting narrative elements that are children of the 80s, from Hopper's action hero parenthesis in which David Harbor for a second becomes none other than Schwarzenneger's Conan, to the use of musical samples for the soundtrack daughters of the period, all with the aim not only of making the viewer remember 'his' 80s, but also of stylistically reconstructing the serial narrative of the period.

Beyond the quotation

All this it is not mere quotationism, it is not just relying on nostalgia. One might think that by simply seeing in these tributes to the cult of the time the only driving force of Stranger Things, but the evolution of the season, especially with the fourth season, has undermined this absolute. Are Conan, the X-Men and even Carrie mentioned? Of course, but the presence of this shared culture is not the limit of a series that, even on a visual level, has been able to give life to moments of rare intensity, which in the fourth season are almost always focused on Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and Maxime ( Sadie Sink), the real stars of the latest batch of characters. Instants such as the already arched Metallica Scene or the vicissitudes of the young Max are emotional peaks that go beyond mere quotationism, they are not nostalgic dynamics but narrative intuitions that arise from a storytelling that may not please, but which has its own soul and a precise value. . They thrill, because the characters are written in an engaging way. | ); }

Can we free Stranger Things from the nostalgia operation label, of a serial Ready Player One? Accepting the departure based on this expedient, the Duffer Bros series has shown that it can go beyond this definition, showing an increasingly less brazen desire to pay homage to a culturally fruitful decade that has risen to the role of touchstone, limiting easter eggs and quotes to a contribution in keeping the personalities of the protagonists authentic. Stranger Things may have been born as a nostalgia operation, but its path has led it to become one of the most loved and profound productions of the period, not without flaws and critical points, but capable of reaching the hearts of the spectators with a unique power. br>

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