The Uncomfortable Comforts of ‘Stranger Things’

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Deepening in episode 7 of Strange thingsfourth season, Dustin makes a very good joke. He, Lucas, and Max are on the shores of Lovers Lake, watching as their friends search for what they believe could be an underwater portal upside down. As he looks for them, he realizes that this new passage to the underworld could have a very funny name: Watergate.

This current season of Strange things it takes place in the spring of 1986, a dozen years after the scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. Some of Dustin’s friends — the older ones, especially — get his gag. Others just react uncomfortably. But seeing it in 2022, as Congress hearings on the January 6 insurgency unfold on another channel, it’s hard not to want to go back to a time when it seemed like an intrusion into the National Committee headquarters. Democrat in Washington, DC. it would be the most embarrassing thing to ever end an American presidential term. To be kind and rewind.

Much has already been written about what nostalgia is like Strange things‘secret sauce. It’s true that part of his fandom is made up of Gen Xers and millennials who still remember a time when someone could honestly ask themselves “What is the Internet?” People who miss Clear Pepsi and Police Academy and the childhoods that happened on the skating rinks.

And while watching Strange things now he still presses all the same nostalgia buttons, he also hits a few more. May include references to Nintendo and Nightmare on Elm Street (and a cameo by Freddy himself, Robert Englund), but one of his main underlying plots is the satanic panic and fears that Dungeons & Dragons would lead the children to necromancy. It also, once again, focuses on the deep fears of the Cold War era about Russian interference in American life. And in 2022, while Russia is invading Ukraine and the January 6 hearings are taking over the airwaves in the same way as the Watergate hearings in 1973, think of a time when D&D was a more frequent topic of the PTA active shooter exercises provide a feeling of uncomfortable comfort. And so, let’s look.

Part of that, however, comes from historical details that Strange things he has chosen to forget about the 1980s. The AIDS crisis is not mentioned, the calamitous effects of the war on drugs are not mentioned (although there is a clearly visible “Just say no” sign at a given time). No one talks about the Iran-Contra affair, although the Tower Commission didn’t start until later 1986, so it can get there. Most of the action comes from events in the suburbs, on the other hand, bucolic Hawkins, Indiana. Vecna ​​might be killing teenagers, but otherwise the problems of the outside world seem like distant memories. Strange things It is not necessary to include these events, but their absence helps with the escape.

And then there’s Kate Bush. The song of the iconoclastic singer / forerunner of the gothic “Running Up That Hill” occupies a prominent place in the current season and, as a result, has topped the charts 37 years after its release. Some have declared a rebirth of Bush. Apparently, it’s a song about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, but the show helps a young child (I won’t say which, because spoilers) fight the world’s evils. Both of them, to borrow a phrase from the song, are worth making a deal with. As above, also below.

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