Monday, July 4, 2016

The cure for Independence Day

Twenty years ago this month, I took a day off from my summer job on an island off the coast of New Hampshire to see a concert by one of my favorite bands at the time, The Cure. It was actually probably two days off, since it necessitated an overnight. This meant I had to save up a day off from another week, since we got only one per week.

Unfortunately, not long after coming to shore, my friend J.D. and I learned that The Cure had had to cancel their show. I can no longer remember the reason for it, but that's where the internet comes in handy. The internet tells me that the July 6, 1996 show at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine -- about a 45-minute drive from where we'd come ashore -- was canceled due to poor ticket sales. I guess The Cure were already fading in popularity back then.

Suddenly without any plans, we pointed our car south to the Boston area rather than north to Portland. We stayed over at my parents' house and went that night to see Independence Day.

Which is still the only time I've seen that film. Needless to say, not a big fan.

Twenty years later, the fates are aligning again in a very humorous way. There's another Independence Day movie out in theaters -- Independence Day: Resurgence -- and later this month, I'm going to see The Cure. For only the second time ever, and the first time since that aborted attempt back in 1996.

Both are examples of the incredible power of nostalgia.

Probably no one expected them to make another Independence Day. This was before almost every summer movie was left open to the possibility of a sequel. From what I remember of that film, it was wrapped up pretty neatly. And though some people certainly got off on the destruction porn, it wasn't such a popular brand that the studio felt it was necessary to force a sequel within the usual two- to six-year timeframe.

Nowadays, though, two powerful factors are contributing to change all that. The long-delayed sequel is now a proven commodity, no longer carrying the desperate odor of a cash grab (although of course that's what it is), and nostalgia has become commodified like never before. Not only are we getting an ID4 2, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an ID4 3 or ID4 4 in a couple years.

Nostalgia is of course the dominant factor in the resurgence, so to speak, of The Cure. They've never exactly gone away, though it's been eight years since their last studio album and more than a decade since they've toured certain parts of North America (though they were here in Australia within the past five years). But they seem to be capitalizing on a certain "this may be the last time" vibe this time around, as selling tickets has not been a problem for the show at Rod Laver Arena on July 28th. At age 57, Cure frontman Robert Smith is not yet over the hill by rock star standards established by people like the Rolling Stones. But for goth rock, he's ancient.

Because it's been three years since I've seen any type of concert, and the acts I would actually want to see in concert are all getting gray, I decided to splurge for tickets -- even though I probably haven't put on a Cure album in ten years. One of my wife's friends (my friend also, but known through her) will be going with me. It should be fun. Let's hope it is, because we paid $150 each for our tickets. Another sign of how nostalgia sells, especially to aging Gen Xers.

The difference between 1996 and 2016?

This time, I probably will not be seeing the Independence Day movie, and -- unless I lose my tickets or something -- I probably will be seeing The Cure.

And my soul will rejoice at the reversal.

Happy 4th, and may it be free from bad Roland Emmerich movies.

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