Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nostalgia Notes on the Net

Mad Men Sixties Style

Swingtown Seventies Style

Style Spy has posted on the the influence of the 1960's styles which have been beautifully executed in Mad Men . Clearly the latest Vogue has picked up on the 1960's trend with its spread featuring a perfectly coiffed model in ladylike suits and gloves photographed in and about country club quality Cadillacs.

Glenn Reynolds has linked to Tim Cavanaugh's article on 1970's Style Envy as seen in TV's Swingtown and film's such as Viva.

Win Free Sex!
The never-ending charm of sexual revolution nostalgia

But the relative daring of both raises a question: In a world where amp-lover and plushy-fetish porn is as near as your web browser, why does the cutting edge of erotic exploration seem to be found in material that's nearly four decades old?
The appeal may be simple style envy. Swingtown luxuriates in the Super Seventies vibe to a degree that is bracing even after many years of Me Decade nostalgia. Some viewers, this one included, have had a hard time getting up to speed with the three couples at the center of the show, who fit too neatly into a continuum from free love to hidebound tradition (i.e., there's one enthusiastic open marriage, a pair of lovably nervous erotic explorers, and one set of cramped, Stepfordesque squares). But who (other than Nielsen viewers, apparently) could say no to the milieu of plaited hair, randy airline pilots, swingers parties, and paneled kitchens? Viva, an even more finely wrought piece of art, aims not for the look of the period but for the look of the period's movies: the high-key, pseudo-Technicolor lighting scheme and spare, colorful set design a handful of us have been missing ever since Dragnet went off the air; nudge-nudge wink-wink dialogue delivered in the flattest possible tones; and the way everybody's always got a cocktail in one hand a cigarette in the other.

This is why I think the unleashing of the Frigid Woman is the key to this story, the explanation for why the sexual revolution contained both new vistas of freedom and the seeds of its own undoing. For all that loosening up ultimately contained just more male insistence, a sense that the real problem with society was that women just weren't putting out enough! The journey to sexual liberation was sold as a step forward for women, but it was also a clever way to eliminate the option of saying no. And while "frigidity" was a phenomenon that had been discussed for decades, it reached crash velocity just when the promise of balling your way through to the other side seemed believable. It turned out women weren't having a problem achieving orgasm at all: They just couldn't do it with you.

Samizdata's Quote of the Day from PJ O'Rourke

"Weren't the eighties grand? Cash grew on trees or, anyway, coca bushes. The rich roamed the land in vast herds hunted by proud, free tribes of investment brokers who lived a simple life in tune with money. Every wristwatch was a Rolex. Every car was a Mercedes-Benz. A fellow could romance a gal without shrink-wrapping his privates and negotiating the Treaty of Ghent. Communist dictators were losing their jobs, not presidents of America and General Motors. Women wore Adolfo gowns instead of dumpy federal circuit court judge robes. The Malcolm who mattered was Forbes. Bill Clinton was only a microscopic polyp in the colon of national politics, and Hillary was still in flight school, hadn't even soloed on her broom. What a blast we were having. The suburbs had just discovered Martha Stewart, the cities had just discovered crack. So many parties and none of them Democratic...Back then health care was a tummy tuck, not an inalienable right. If you wanted a better environment, you went to Laura Ashley."

So, isn't it getting to be about time for a little nostalgia for the Go Go 1990's.
Shouldn't we soon see a show based on Sand Hill Road venture capitalists, Silicon Valley tech geeks and the Wall Street analysts who were in their pockets during the days of the search for the New New Thing...all set in the heady happy time before 9-11?
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