Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Thursday, January 13, 2005
The sun shone more in those days - or was it just the surfaces? Biased BBC comments often stray from the point in a fruitful manner. I did a post there about this post by Blithering Bunny in which he said, speaking of old TV coverage, that the lack of "pop-culture smirkiness" in the old clips was "as if Grima Wormtongue had been banished for the day."

Writers who compare the past favourably with the present are often accused of "idolising" an "imagined golden age", usually as a preamble to accusing them of wanting to keep women barefoot. This is a low technique. To compare favourably is not to idolise.

Anyway, Biased BBC reader Susan made a comment that I would like to post here.

I read that Bunny post yesterday. Actually you could use the Grima Wormtongue quote on a lot of US media too, as well as the usual current dreck from Hollywood.

The hopefulness and confidence of the 50s and early 60s, contrasted with the snarky, self-hating nihilism of today. . .it's really stark. And the people look so much cleaner and neater, too.

(I'm not saying that the 50s and 60s were free of their problems, such as segregation in the US, of course.)

I replied:
The contrast, both sides of it, are dealt with rather well (in a joky way) in the film "Back to the Future" . There is brief scene set in a grafitti-strewn self-service petrol station in the nineties. When the hero goes back in time the same garage is shown as sparkling clean and attended by a bevy of service attendants who, if I've remembered this right, sing in harmony like a barbershop quartet.

On the other hand no one can conceive of a black mayor until the hero recognises the young black man cleaning in a restaurant as the future mayor and puts the idea into his head. (One of those self-fulfilling time loops without which no time travel story is complete.)

Personally, I don't see why we can't have mayors of all colours AND sparkling clean garages.

Dinginess makes people unhappy.