Post by Josh Zinn.
Picture, if you will, a time before the Internet. An innocent world that beckons with the promise of adventure and mystery, without the ability for its treasure trove of secrets to be divulged, pinned, poked, or liked by people in caftans whose explorative minds have been numbed by multiple mouse clicks, Judge Judy, and the soothing reliability of their favorite microwave fettuccini alfredo. Hold in your mind those precious memories of pay telephones, travel agents, Tab cola, and oversized women’s shoulder pads that helped define what it meant to be “on the go” when people still needed to leave their homes in order to satiate their fetishes and desires. Remember, “Ze plane! Ze plane!” and the hope it brought that some washed-up B-list actor could—in between mortgage-paying appearances on The Love Boat and Hart to Hart—find a glimmer of happiness in a temporary, entirely unsustainable setting.
Like a Jurassic Park for those who prefer lust and lingerie to lizards and Laura Dern, Fantasy Island revels in the fact that people desire what they are unable to attain in their day-to-day lives. For some, this might be a healthy version of a tater-tot casserole or a discount on nachos at the movie theater; for others, it’s a torrid affair with a vampire or disco lessons with Charo. Regardless of what its guests desire, however, Fantasy Island’s job is to make the impossible possible by promising the fading stars of yesterday a paycheck for tomorrow and by counting upon the dissatisfied lives of its viewing audience and their unquenchable thirst for an existence where clean Corningware is not considered a measure of happiness.
Sadly, the modern world no longer has much of a place for a Ricardo Montalbån-hosted tropical island where Don Knotts can become a sex symbol or women like Florence Henderson can uncover the power of their womanhood by fighting against the curse of a Don Ameche-led Satanic cult. Now, with the secrets of the world at our fingertips, people can simply find a web page, user group, or chat room that gives them the sense of normalcy and belonging that Fantasy Island may have once provided—it’s all the payoff, without the worry that Mickey Rooney or Milton Berle might show up in a Speedo.
Akin to a Make-A-Wish-Foundation for neurotics and hedonists alike, Fantasy Island captures a pre-internet moment in time when the world had yet to fully comprehend the scope of its depravity or its ability to write Twilight fan-fiction ad infinitum. It is an oasis of sin in the sun, accessible to even the most secretive of suburbanites.