Friday, August 19, 2011


This is what I don't get: what's with the nostalgia for the 60's? You have all this hubbub over The Help and before that there was Mad Men. Now, the Fall TV line-up includes Pan Am and The Playboy Club. The Nationalist scholar in me says this might be a backlash against Obama as president--a longing for a time when there was absolutely no chance for a black man to be the head of the PTA let alone be the POTUS. The Feminist scholar in me is suspicious of these portrayals of women in subjugated positions. Stewardess? (And I meant to use that word.) Playboy bunny? Th Gen Xer in me is just annoyed.

I remember a few years ago there was a sketch on MadTV about this 50's restaurant that had opened up. Four friends went to dine there, a white couple and a black couple. They all thought it was great with its rock and roll jukebox and the waitresses in poodle skirts. It was great until the black couple couldn't be served. They were directed to a sign on the wall that read "No coloreds." The clamor for these 60s-inspired shows seems similar. Just what is the nostalgia for?

I am open to the idea that these shows are just the result of the TV& Film industry's total lack of originality. But even if the intent is innocent,what will be the outcome? How will this nostalgia for the 60s shape our 21st century world?


The Steel Magnolia said...

As you know, TD, we are of one mind. I would also add that I think the Tea Party sensation is also not unrelated to this nostalgia. The 50s and 60s are often remembered as a more moral era--well, that applies less to the 60s--and there is a palpable sense of self-righteous fervor in that "party". I'm still on this jag of watching "The Waltons" and see how it could be very easy to define the world in the clear right and wrong, black and white that this version of the past presents. I mean, the children go to the schoolhouse and get their lessons with loving parents at home, and even though there is poverty, hard work and sacrifice make sure that everything works out okay. (I actually think the show is a little more nuanced, but that's at the core). Perhaps the nostalgia is also about an inability for us to create simple solutions to our postmodern problems; if we didn't have overtesting and a huge wealth gap and food instability and drugs, maybe it would all be better. Then again, in this episode of "The Waltons" Elizabeth is deciding whether or not to spend the night with Drew and then they break up.

The Steel Magnolia said...

Just had the realization that "The Waltons" was a show set in the 30s and 40s that aired in the 70s. Another case of the good ole days?

Anonymous said...

The(post)modern world is more complex than most can (or want to) deal with. Thus, I think this nostalgia is grounded in that longing for a simpler time. But that only applies to a certain demographic. Most minorities don't look at those times with much fondness. There is a sports talk show host here in Jackson, MS, who always talks about being proud to be "southern" and how the "Southern heritage" is making a comeback among Gen-y'ers. Yet, when pressed on what does a black person have to be proud about this "Southern heritage", he changes the subject.