If there is a bitter truth to the old Klingon axiom that revenge is a dish better served cold, for a no less volatile species, though perhaps slightly more attractively packaged; mainstream pop culture, nostalgia is a dish best served old.
And the older you get, the more delicious it tastes. A side dish like nostalgia is nourishment for the soul, which is essential in a world where, as Benjamin Franklin once noted, the only two certainties are death and taxes.
In Douglas Coupland’s 2007 novel, The Gum Thief, Becky, a twenty something goth girl trapped working at a McJob within the narrow, horrid confines of a Staples store, laments, “the modern world is devoted to vanishing species, vanishing weather and vanishing capacity for wonder”. Maybe that’s why we need works offered to us from folks like the Van Orton crew.
By tapping into that childhood wonder, these colourful, re-imagined images serve as a reminder of our first foray into fantasy.
The storybooks we were read as children, cartoons and video games we consumed over sugar laced cereals on saturday mornings and comics we devoured inside tree houses and under blankets with flashlights were our first sources of joy. These were our first moments of escape from the tedium of classrooms, homework and the banality of structured living.
They provided our first glimpse into a life of wonder and infinite possibilities. So when someone is somehow able to repackage those original impossible dreams into something that is instantly recognizable, it tricks our brains for a moment that it’s something new and exciting.
It transports us back to those magical moments, when we were young, if only for an instant. And God knows, we could all use a little more wonder. Right before we do our taxes, one more time.