Deuce’s D- Book Report #1: Slimed!
In case you haven’t figured it out, I like to take a moment every once in a while and examine things from my youth. Not even necessarily for nostalgia’s sake, but to take inventory and try to figure out what the hell was going on at various points in my youth with a more mature and objective eye.
Okay, a more objective eye.
This review, though? This is entirely nostalgia. It’s all classic Nickelodeon in its obnoxiously green-and-orange, doo-wop-theme-song-having glory. The book is called SLIMED!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein. The oral history has become a popular vehicle for books recounting a specific era in time, and for good reason: as far as I’m concerned, stories are more thoroughly and interestingly told when they’re told by the people who lived them. Conflicting memories, biases, all of these things shining through helps create a culture in your head, a feel as opposed to cold facts, which is, to me, probably the most important aspect of understanding a musical scene, the culture of a sports team, or in this case, a fledgling network.
But it would be a real shame if one were to do that because this book is chock full of interesting stories, trivia, and perspectives that not only touch the nostalgic aspect of Nickelodeon, but also make you realize how utterly weird the network really was. I mean, seriously, the network was several TV generations ahead of its time. The single-camera, no-canned-laughter style of sitcom that’s all the rage now (The Office, Modern Family, Community) was used by Salute Your Shorts 20 years ago. The animation styles of Doug and Rugrats were incredibly unique. The tone of Ren and Stimpy was completely off-the-wall. This has it all, from the origins of the network and You Can’t Do That on Television to Melissa Joan-Hart’s mother being a complete stage-mom on the set of Clarissa Explains It All to Marc Summers and everyone else invoked with Double Dare figuring out just how the hell this crazy show was going to work. The stories of how these art students and members of the punk and no wave scenes of downtown New York in the early 80s came to start their own network that became a multi-billion dollar empire to rival Disney is fascinating, hilarious, and inspiring.
It also makes you realize that when people say “Man, Nickelodeon today isn’t nearly as good as when I was a kid” isn’t hyperbole or rose-tinted glasses. Shows like Pete and Pete and Rocko’s Modern Life had a certain self-aware weirdness and rebelliousness that has no real connection at all to the smoothed edges and gloss of Sam and Cat or Hannah Montana.
If you want to take a really fun trip down memory lane, you can pick the book up from Amazon here.