Quote card by Opinion.

As I walked into The Michigan Theater the other night, I felt transported back in time. The ambiance had a sleek vintage feel, a stately time machine that reminded me of architecture from the 1920s, when the building was created. I was there with a friend to see “Licorice Pizza,” a coming-of-age film set in the 1970s. 

Walking into the theater room itself, we quickly realized that we were the youngest ones in attendance. Much of the audience were couples in their 50s and above, but we didn’t mind. I’ve had an interest in the ‘70s era since I first heard the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack. My friend and I both also enjoy watching “Once Upon Time in Hollywood” (the setting is actually 1969 Hollywood, but for the purposes of this article we’re rounding up). If anything, the viewer demographic enhanced our experience. 

As the movie unfolded, I felt as though I had entered a second time machine. Vibrant colors and stylish fashion — such as leisure suits and bell bottoms — were extremely prominent throughout the film. Songs from Beatles legend Paul McCartney and the late David Bowie added a nostalgia that is rarely featured in the present day. With explorations of the 1973 oil crisis and waterbeds, the film really captured the zeitgeist of the time. 

Moreover, the plot of “Licorice Pizza” acts as a bridge between generations too. The film focuses on two characters — 15-year-old Gary Valentine (played by Cooper Hoffman, the son of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman) and 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim) — as they navigate daily life in Los Angeles. Their friendship is unusual yet authentic proof that age is truly a mere number. 

Alas, as I soaked in their cinematic work, I could not help but derive a similar message on a personal level. Here we were, my friend and I, watching a film rooted in the 1970s with moviegoers who probably lived through the era. While most of my peers would rather prefer to watch the latest Spider-Man or the recent revival of The Matrix, I opted to watch a nuanced portrayal of two ordinary people where the only recognizable face is Bradley Cooper (who kills in his brief 20 minutes in the film).

This had me wondering: what other opportunities are our generation avoiding simply because they are not considered ‘relevant’ or ‘cool’ today? Are we not allowing ourselves to read classic books? Listen to vinyl records? Visit a roller rink? Of course, these activities do exist, except they are not truly displayed for everyone to notice. Conversely, when they are noticed, do we feel out-of-date if we take interest in them?

Thus, I propose that it is time we normalize confessing our admiration for vintage recreation. Despite the increasingly digitized world we live in and the more modern opportunities for socialization, there is something to be said for the cultural enjoyment of ‘good ol’-fashioned fun,’ which has now become an experience of ‘70s recreation. 

Perhaps instead of worrying about what hangout spot makes us look the most cool on Instagram, we could concern ourselves with the fulfillment we receive from truly doing something we enjoy. For example, when was the last time you went to an arcade? Perhaps we consider ourselves too ‘grown up’ to do so, but our age doesn’t make it any less fun, does it? Pinball Pete’s is directly on South University Avenue, so go give it a try! We’re never too old to indulge in the enjoyable nostalgia of our childhood. 

Conversely, we’re never too young to appreciate the past either. Our world increasingly emphasizes revisionist history and, with it, the growing need to rectify prior events. Thus, it is films like “Licorice Pizza” that make me appreciate the authenticity of a decade that, in its day, was surely a spectacular one to live in. Furthermore, what makes the movie so great is that it emphasizes the human connection. It is the pleasantness (or lack thereof) of the people that gives value to the era’s enjoyment. While the actual decade itself had its fair share of turmoil, the personalities of the ‘70s remained exceedingly — almost unrealistically — optimistic. Perhaps it is this quality alone that makes it so captivating to learn about and experience secondhand. 

In this sense, I began to think about our generation. Some day in the future, someone is going to make a movie about the 2010s and 2020s. In this time period, our country has seen its fair share of pessimism, too. Maybe they will portray our society as one full of technological innovation and excitement for positive change. However, if future filmmakers interview people from this era, they may interpret us as consumeristic robots who cannot look away from their screens and would rather dig their heels in instead of practicing conflict resolution. I, for one, would rather watch the first movie, and I think you would too. The outcome is dependent on you and your choices.

Sam Woiteshek is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at swoitesh@umich.edu.