Monday, April 5, 2010
These two short films are a riot. The first is a friendly propaganda film introducing John Q. Public to the suburbs. The film hasn't aged well, and not only promotes a dull conventional life it ignores what is really going on in society. (Where, for example, are "Negroes?")
The second clip signals a sea change. What happened?
Historians note that "the sixties" didn't actually begin until about 1964--after the previous era ended with the Kennedy assassination. You can witness the split in this newsreel that begins with the brassy flatulence of military introductory music and a narrator from the past guiding Middle America through a strange new phenomena. What was this joyous NOISE? Believers would say it was just rock 'n' roll, but fussy profs might call it the clarion call of a new Dionysian Age celebrating wild music and carefree abandon--not to mention the wretched excess of casual sex and drugs and long hair. The grim post-war, cold war, cookie cutter suburban conformist lifestyle was on wobbly legs--and not only because of all the martinis and tranquilizers. The oldsters figured this was a fad like hula hoops and coonskin caps, and maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't. Either way, there was no turning back to I Like Ike, golfing, and Ozzie and Harriet. Yeats might have seen it coming.
...now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?