A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Feeling Nostalgic?

Recently, several waves of nostalgia have washed up over our collective cultural consciousness. To wit or t’wit if you prefer:

The 90s have been resurrected with comments from Republican Congressman Rand Paul referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal that plagued the last years of Bill Clinton’s second term as President. Paul’s wife had earlier commented that Clinton exhibited predatory behavior in dealing with White House intern Lewinsky. She intended it as a warning for voters who might want to elect Hillary president and thus return Bill as first spouse. Her husband seemed to double down on her comments more recently on NBC’s Meet the Press.

A second wave of 90s nostalgia hit with a replay of the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow scandal. This time, their adopted daughter Dylan wrote an open letter to the New York Times, wherein she accused her former stepfather of molesting her. Allen denied the accusations, which prompted another retort from mother Mia…and happy 1992 all over again, people!

In both cases, I am struck with one thought: why am I being subjected to these traumas again? What did I ever do to the Pauls and Allen-Farrow to deserve witnessing a rewashing of all this dirty laundry? This is not the purpose of nostalgia!

When we want to get nostalgic about a certain time or place or person, we like the warm fuzzy feelings of reminiscing. In fact, the Little River Band’s song of the same name specifically mentions the Porter tunes, as in Cole Porter, whose songs were bursting with the sentimentality that pangs of nostalgia are made for.

We look back with fondness at good times. For example, I’ve never heard someone release a whistful sigh with a smile and say something like, “I was just thinking about the Hindenburg! Ah the humanity!”

See, it doesn’t work! So why we we’re getting sentimental about predatory sexual abuse is beyond my comprehension. And I like to think I have a rather vivid comprehension, if I do say so myself.

In the 70s we looked back at the 50s and created an entire industry around what we recognized to be a simpler time. Simpler time? I don’t know about that. In the 50s, America lived in fear that the Soviet Union would reduce us to radioactive rubble for a good portion of the decade. Many Americans even prepared for the event that never happened by constructing bomb shelters in their backyards. At least one congressman was running amok in Washington in his determination to reveal the identity of every Communist who dared to breathe the air of American freedom and democracy. Yet, in the 70s, we tuned in to a representation of this time period every week and watched a show with the ironic title Happy Days.  

Living in fear was a sign of happiness? Go figure!

I doubt that we will see a Happy Days version of the 90s any time soon. Motivation for Paul’s comments about Clinton may not be obvious. The liberals among us may see it as the opening salvo in an effort to discredit a Hillary Clinton candidacy years before it happens and long before any American voters care to think about the 2016 election. At this point, the furthest thought from our minds is the next election. Can we get through the 2014 Congressional mid-terms first, please?

As for the Allen-Farrow rematch, I find myself not caring either way. Full disclosure: I am a fan of Woody Allen and would hate to see any scandal taint his legacy. However, if Dylan’s accusations are true, then shame on him and shame on our justice system for allowing him to escape unscathed. If they aren’t true, then shame on Dylan and Mia for opening up old wounds and pouring an entire container of salt on them. If Dylan’s motives of airing her experiences - real, or as Allen has claimed, psychologically suggested by her adoptive mother - was to put a spotlight on child abuse, then more power to her.
However, if her motive was to destroy Allen’s reputation, then she needs help, professional help. In fact, all three of them need the kind of help that someone like me cannot give them. I got tired of this story 20 years ago and I cannot work up the energy to give a damn about it now. Anyway, Dylan’s motives of career destruction for her stepfather will probably fail: Sir Charles Chaplin weathered accusations which were certainly the Victorian era equivalent of the Farrow stories. Chaplin’s legacy remains untarnished.

Nostalgia got another ride this week with the passing of child actress Shirley Temple. For a few days, we were reminded of her performances (circa 1934 through 1938) when millions were unemployed, many went without food, and drought conditions in the Midwest uprooted an entire way of agrarian life. Again, Happy Days, everyone! Yet there she was, on the big screen, singing and dancing cheerfully (usually as an orphan or near orphan), and making everyone forget their troubles for an hour.

The box office totals from her films are even credited with saving the studio, 20th Century Fox, from bankruptcy. Just imagine for a moment what we would not have seen if Fox had gone out of business. We would not have watched the Batman television series in the 60s. The Planet of the Apes franchise would never have been produced; ditto for the Star Wars series and the new generation of motion picture special effects that it ushered in. We also would not have seen the founding of Fox News in the 90s.

Oh, um, hmmm. Surely we can’t blame Ms. Temple for the journalism disaster that is Fox News. But we can call her Shirley, because after all that was her name.

Monica Lewinsky, Allen-Farrow, and Fox News! Yes sir, a 90s version of Happy Days will definitely not happen anytime soon!

(Thank you for reading. RIP, Shirley Temple; and oh yes, Happy Valentine’s Day!)


Anonymous Janey said...

Monica Lewinsky should have swallowed...

February 15, 2014 at 5:50 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you for your comment, Janey. Yes, swallowed and gagged!

February 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM  

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