The Monster Right Here: Cold War Nostalgia and the Ambiguity of Goodness in Stranger Things
In honor of season two, in this Olio we will examine these political and even existential dilemmas as presented in the lovingly nostalgic Stranger Things. We will examine the political message of the series, probing at what Eleven means when she claims herself the true monster, and we will explore the complex, and perhaps troubling, function of nostalgia at work in this masterful series. What, exactly, are we nostalgic for? There is more going on here, I think, than nostalgia for our youth and the stories we loved, and more too, I think, than simply the pleasure of being on the inside of an inside joke. By watching Stranger Things, we get to experience not simply a story, we get to experience ourselves experiencing our stories. We are watching ourselves watch, and it turns out, we were right all along. The government is bad, only kids know the truth, parents might love us but they have no idea that all of this is a lie, the cool kids are actually miserable, the outsiders will save the day, friendship is the highest moral good, and magic is real. But, still, we must ask, who is the monster?
Jamie Warren has a Ph.D. in American History from Indiana University, and she is an Assistant Professor at BMCC-CUNY where she teaches American history, the history of women and gender, and women’s studies. Her research focuses on slavery in antebellum South with a particular focus on death, the body, and the philosophy of history.