Before I begin can we just all agree on one thing – there has never been, nor ever will be, a time of ‘magic and innocence’ in our world. Can we agree on that? Don’t give me this ‘those were simpler times’ nonsense either. Humans have been rotten to one another from day one and we remain rotten. When we talk about long gone days we talk about the mythology of them, or our recollection of them, but that doesn’t mean that they were that way.
We can agree on this, right?
Let me set a plate for you.
Two people can go on a date.
One thinks it is sweet, romantic, and that it could lead to something more.
The other person thinks it was awkward, forced, and they really felt no connection or spark.
Which is the truth?
The answer is yes.
Yes, in that both things are the truth because they are true for both people.
BUT, once the romantic tries to force their truth on the person who thought things were awkward there’s a problem.
The truth doesn’t stand up so well because Person A has to now deal with Person B’s truth and vice versa.
PERCEPTION of the whole is not necessarily the reality for the individual.
Anyone who has ever longed for someone and didn’t have them reciprocate those feelings should get it, even if they don’t want to. Your truth, your feelings are what they are. There is nothing wrong with them. It’s when you try to force those feelings onto someone who doesn’t want them that there is an issue. It’s then that both sides need to come to terms with the great gap between perception and truth.
It’s a lonely realization for both sides and neither will leave happy, odds are.
Let’s look at a decade like the 1980s, a decade where I really was a product of the time. For ME it was a magical time. I remember kid’s cartoons, and GI Joe toys, and Transformers, and on an on. I remember playing with friends. I remember going trick or treating. I remember Christmas and Easter and times spent with the family. I remember not liking the music that I now hear and bop my head in time to. When I think of the 1980s, I think of my childhood and growing up a white kid in suburbia out in the country.
For some though, this was a time of watching your friends literally dying from a relatively new disease that was said to only affect ‘your kind’ – gays at first and people of color later. Instead of the government working to get a handle on this disease it instead started pointing fingers at what it deemed ‘aberrant behavior’ and it filtered down to the churches who called it God’s Wrath.
And then, as if by a miracle, it was suddenly discovered in people who were straight or bi-sexual.
For some the 1980s were a time of watching as the rich got richer and your family stayed poor. It was a time when America preached one way and acted another. It was a time where the several conservative factions were fighting desperately to keep the country pure for children that were already being raised by televisions.
So many people look back on the ‘80s with the warmth of nostalgia and that’s fine. That’s great. Like I said, for me, it was a formative time. It was the time where I started to become who I am. It wasn’t great for everyone though. So, when someone tries to proclaim that those were ‘the good old days’, sure, they were, for you.
Your perception of them is great because you remember good times and had good memories.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a true reflection of the time for everyone.
Lots of people struggled.
It was the foundation for the financial collapse that was to come where people’s greed and hunger for power started to overtake their desire to do the right thing and to do the responsible thing.
That doesn’t mean the 1980s were awful, at all, but let’s stop painting our glasses red to look at that decade as if our love of those movies, or fondness for the attire, or whatever. Love what you love, just don’t expect everyone else to have that same love because THEIR truth isn’t yours.
ON TO THE ‘50’s!
Americans have a deep fondness for the 1950s, don’t we? We love the cars, and the music, and the clothes, and the VIBE of the era. I talked about this in another blog recently. Many of us look back at things and wish it were that ‘simple’. Those were the ‘good old days’, that time after the second world war, where soldiers were home, families were growing, and America was falling in love with itself.
I love the PERCEPTION of that era.
The idealized, movie version.
I love the cars, love the music, and love that science fiction movies were getting so interesting.
I didn’t live in that era, so I GET to sort of moon over what my PERCEPTION of it was. The fact though is that every era is far more complex than the very black and white way we see them.
The ‘50s were a time of change and repression.
Rock music wasn’t universally loved as the older generations thought it was evil cacophony meant to make teens sexual. They pined for a return to the days of crooners when music was ‘pure’.
Drive-ins, which we hold in such nostalgia, were again seen as places where teens would go to be promiscuous and were not seen merely as a place to watch a movie from a car.
It was a time of racism in the country as people of color fought to be heard.
It was a time of change as the counterculture movement began to grow and the beatniks and artists of this era slowly became the hippies of the 1960’s.
The Fonz type of cool guy anti-hero was seen as a miscreant and parents worried desperately that their ‘good’ children would want to get into trouble like ‘those people’.
It’s a great time…to remember.
It wasn’t such a great time for everyone to live in.
Sure, you will find people who lived through those days and will pine for them.
You’ll also find folks who scowl at the decade.
What I am getting to, slowly, is that there is no real Good Old Days. It’s a measuring stick we move on a whim as we make up a new version of reality based on our hazy memories and what we have seen in the movies. I had detention once in the 1980s. Once. It was after school for one hour and we sat quietly. Maybe all-day weekend detention was different. I really doubt it though.
We ALL do the ‘back in my day’/‘good old days’ nonsense. We do it with movies – man the 1970s were so great! We do it with music – man, the 1990s grunge scene was amazing! On and on and on. We look wistfully at our pasts because we judge eras by our experiences during them. It’s a great tool to wield that can become instantly weaponized with the right audience as you bemoan how something you don’t connect with or understand or agree with now would never have been tolerated ‘back in the day’.
Oh, well, this music today. I can’t even understand these lyrics. Why, in my day…
This rap music today, all it does is talk about sex and drugs and violence, why when I was a kid…
You get the picture.
We do it.
Our parents do it.
Our leaders do it ALL the time.
They bemoan how our culture has fallen off some sort of ‘path’ and that it’s not like it used to be. Yeah, it isn’t. To me, that’s a good thing. Being ruled by men, or by white people, or by the rich, or by fear, or by hate, or by religion are not my perfect society.
We can disagree with someone without demonizing people who believe in that.
We forget that.
We forget that, hey, we AREN’T a Christian nation. We weren’t founded on that. We were founded on the FREEDOM of religion, to follow or not. When we start demanding people ascribe to our religions, well, I mean, that’s sorta not what we were founded on, is it? It’s what they do in other countries we like to hold up as ‘third world countries’.
The past is weaponized all the time, as it is being weaponized against Disney, the 500-ton gorilla, or mouse in this case, that doesn’t really need me to stand up for it. Disney is a business and as such, it serves its own interests and those of its board. The only reason it is taking a stand in the growing culture wars in Florida is that it employees and serves a LOT of the people who are being discriminated against.
The LGBTQIA+ community is a convenient target.
They can be pointed to as ‘aberrant’ to the church community.
They can be claimed to be ‘indoctrinating kids’ – which, have you ever seen a gay person telling a kid, yeah, kid, you wanna do it, you wanna be gay? Ever? Didn’t think so.
You can even dredge up the old chestnut of ‘oh, well, they spread diseases and such, don’t they’? Because we love to take that time machine to the days of yore when we could be bigots and get away with it.
STOP BEIN’ SO PC!
Political Correctness, or rather, universal decency and thoughtfulness.
It’s awful, isn’t it? GEEZ.
Letting people live their true lives and not have to stand for our derision.
I am not religious, but I am not going to start demanding an end to religion.
As is the hate and anger for Disney, oh, but they are a very big target, aren’t they?
They took the stand they did because the room to not take sides is running out. We are seeing conservatives get so outrageous in their demands and claims that saying nothing is complicity. And as I always say, that’s not to claim that the ‘other side’ isn’t doing and saying stupid things but right now, this is a battle with the ‘right’.
It’s a battle for the soul of the country.
Gay people are not a new thing.
When will we get this?
The entire LGBTQIA+ community isn’t new.
People hiding themselves doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.
Jews hid during World War II, does that mean they suddenly didn’t exist?
Many hid because they had no choice.
People who feel hunted do what they need to do to survive.
We have time and again told people of color and in the LGBTQIA+ communities that they are less than straight white people.
That’s a lie.
It always has been.
And we are at a point where we cannot keep lying to ourselves.
We can’t keep pretending that slavery didn’t happen, and that oppression didn’t happen.
While we don’t have to tell everyone who wasn’t ‘there’ that they caused it, we can look at ourselves and say – I benefitted from those things, not out of choice but because the culture was gamed to work that way. Self-actualization, seeing you and what made you, isn’t a bad thing.
Kids learning REAL history, and not the cherry-picked history, is desperately important because if they don’t learn what not to do then we just see the same things happen again and again.
Disney aren’t heroes for doing what the money deems they should do, but they are still taking a stand when too many aren’t. It’s easier to say nothing but by doing that you have your opinion chosen for you. One of their board members cried about how they want Disney to get back to the days of myth and innocence. You know, the days when it was OK to white wash dark fairy tales, or remove people of color from stories, or where gay people don’t get to love, or whatever. They don’t want REALITY, they want a world where the things they don’t believe in aren’t shown, kinda like a kid hiding from a monster. What we forget, amidst the political pandering, the religious fear mongering, and the chest beating of trolls is that this nation is meant to represent ALL of us.
That’s the deal.
We forget that, we try to ignore that, but that’s the deal.
You can frown at that fact and disagree with the concept but we are all meant to be represented. THAT is how this is meant to work.
Business SHOULDN’T have to choose sides because they are beasts that feed on money, but the more we insist that people choose sides, they will, and they will usually choose whatever side can get them the most money.
It’s time to stop behaving like spoiled brats as we stamp our feet and wag our fingers and try to demonize one another for social acceptance or for political and religious coin.
We have this thing where we look at the past and let out a long sigh, wishing things were like some days gone by because society and culture changed. We want the benefits of today but the ‘simplicity’ of the past that lets us benefit from something we have to work hard to have now. The past never got less bruised and bloody, we just stopped wanting to see that and instead look away and focus on the things we like, and not what we don’t.
Maybe it’s time to grow up.
I write books, do podcasts, make movies, and review movies. Hit the internal links and check out the rest of what I do!