I often hear people saying, in response to talk of how the world has deteriorated, that those who complain are nostalgic for a mythic ‘Golden Age.’ This is usually followed by comments on how [insert period here] was nothing of the kind.
This, it seems to me, has it backwards. That a given time was no Golden Age does not make the present any better. On the contrary, the less golden an age actually was, the more of more of an indictment that it seems so by comparison.
To take an analogy: the Brendan Frasier version of The Mummy is no classic. It’s a silly, stupid pulp adventure. That people look back on it fondly in the wake of the Tom Cruise version of The Mummy is not an indictment of their taste or memory; it’s an indication of just how bad the latter film really is.