Joshua Finnell's Reviews > Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past

Retromania by Simon Reynolds
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Jul 09, 11

bookshelves: library-journal-review, nonfiction
Read from June 20 to July 09, 2011

Library Journal Review:

In the 21st century, nostalgia is instantaneous. With childhood commercials a click away on YouTube and a huge world musical archive available for digital download, our thirst for the past is unquenchable. Here, Reynolds (Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984) uses critical theory to explore the retro industry and our collective obsession with the immediate past. Reynolds employs Derrida's theory of documentation in deconstructing the popularity of VH1's "I Love the [Decade]" series and various fashion theorists in delineating the concepts of vintage and retro. Covering fashion, music, television, museums, and mashups, Reynolds analyzes our culture's need to acknowledge the past in an attempt to create something new and original. In a paradoxical twist, our accelerated digital world has become locked in hyperstasis. Popular culture, as a corollary, always feels familiar and alluring.
Verdict This superbly written critique of popular culture reveals our deep-seated anxieties about social instability and cultural change; however, the density of the language and unrelenting references to facets of popular culture may repel the casual reader.—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
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