Mutton dressed as lamb
September 15, 2009 3:19 AM   Subscribe

Is there a formula related to the statement "What's old becomes new again"? As middle age encroaches, it becomes harder and harder not to see history recycled and repackaged whether fashion, music, etc...

Do marketers and and advertisers have a strategy backed by science or math? Or is this just my first sign of developing "Get off my lawn" syndrome?
posted by Funmonkey1 to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Speaking from an analytical point of view and with no knowledge of the media industry: Change is constant because we get bored with more of the same and certain things can only go in two directions (hem lines, trouser ends, heels ie big or small) so it seems inevitable that old things will come back. The way it may apply to music is that despite what seems like a very wide range of possibilities the number of combinations which would generally be appealing to the human mind will still be finite.

Just my thought....other may be able to enlighten how the industry tries to predict and cope with such change which would be interesting to know.
posted by london302 at 3:52 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Isn't it just that the more you've seen, the less it's possible to see for the first time?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:17 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Could it be that music, fashions, and other trendy things are intermeshed, inversely or "versely," with the general mood of the times? "Happy music"? "Lively fashion"? Doesn't there seem to be a resurgence of the music and fashion of the 1920s (pre-Depression) now that we're in the Great Recession? And, of course, what "Obscure Reference" says.
posted by RichardS at 4:36 AM on September 15, 2009

I think the best formulation of it I've heard is this: "History doesn't repeat. But sometimes it rhymes."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:38 AM on September 15, 2009

I once had a media class taught by an old ex-CBS executive. His big lesson was, "What goes around, comes around." Things go in and out of fashion, and then are rediscovered either as nostalgia or as a "discovery" by a generation that has no previous experience with them.

In other words, as Charles Manson said on "Family Guy," "If I haven't seen it, it's new to me."
posted by Devoidoid at 4:44 AM on September 15, 2009

I always thought it was every 20 years.

Which means grunge should be back right
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 4:55 AM on September 15, 2009

You are not the only one who has noticed this.
posted by carmen at 6:09 AM on September 15, 2009

I've been told that for fashion it's a 20 year cycle. Current fashion is similar to the 80's, which was based on the 60's, which was based on the 20's (40's is an anomaly because of the war, etc.).
posted by thejanna at 6:16 AM on September 15, 2009

In the mid 90s, when "80s oldies" stations became somewhat common, I just thought it was a new trend. I didn't realize I was part of a targeted 25-40 year old demographic market. Now that most of that group has aged out of that market, there don't seem to be too many 80s oldies stations anymore, but I'd predict 90s oldies are an inevitability. So, in that sense, you can see a formula. I haven't watched VH-1 Classics in a long time, but I suspect they're playing Radiohead and Hanson these days, if not the Spice Girls.
posted by kimota at 6:18 AM on September 15, 2009

The words of the Teacher, [a] son of David, king in Jerusalem: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." . . . What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

From Ecclesiastes 1
posted by MasonDixon at 6:40 AM on September 15, 2009

"When the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning."

The marketing folks have been reading Baudrillard again.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:53 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Do marketers and and advertisers have a strategy backed by science or math?"

In one of Malcolm Gladwell's books he talks about this team that developed a movie box office predictor software based on tropes and facts about other movies. I can imagine someone creating something similar for trends, fashions, music etc. It would only be as good as the input but the advantage would be that it could account for much more information than a human brain could. (not) answer your question: If they aren't now they soon will.
posted by ian1977 at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2009

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