Saturday, July 28, 2007
  Skirts, cars and 202s

I'm alternately annoyed and amused by Hollywood's tendency to miss the culture and style of earlier periods.

The most annoying and universal tendency is pure Socialist Realist propaganda: they depict the normal taboos and prejudices of the earlier era as evil and repressive, by contrast with the Ahead-Of-Her-Time Heroine who proudly carries this month's rigorously orthodox Leninist taboos and prejudices. She manages to Re-Educate the more Enlightened Ones of the Evil and Repressive Natives in that Horrible Time, and the remaining normal people Nazis continue to Heil each other in their Swastika-bedecked Pigpens.

Hollywood's errors in style are not so intentional or heavy-handed, but still annoying. Can't they hire someone who lived through the '50s or '60s? Surely some of their writers and producers are old enough to remember these things accurately.

Focusing on this point today for two reasons:

1. The new series Mad Men on AMC refreshingly avoids the standard propaganda tricks. Mad Men depicts the taboos and prejudices of 1966 with amazing accuracy and sympathy, and doesn't shove modern taboos and prejudices down our throats to Raze Our Consciousness. The show even distinguishes between 'enlightened' and 'less enlightened' views by the actual standards of a 1966 adult, leaving the viewer to decide which era's peculiar bigotries are preferable.

Despite such careful objectivity, Madmen misses the mark on style. The female hairstyles belong in 1959, and some of the clothing dates from 1948. The cars are also too old on average. It's true that 50's cars were still around, but only in the hands of teenagers and old ladies. No self-respecting social-climbing businessman would dare to keep a four-year-old car, let alone a 25-year-old clunker. This failure is especially puzzling because the three-year obsolescence cycle was created by the same admen featured in the show!


*** Much later note: As I was searching for something else, I noticed an error in this entry. For some reason I thought Mad Men was set in 1966. In fact the first year of the series was set in 1960, so the 1959 hairstyles were just right, and the 1958-59 cars were also within the 3-year obsolescence cycle designed by the ad men. In other words, the show is 100% accurate! ***


2. I've acquired a little more sympathy for the writers and producers, after encountering a period puzzle of my own.



Polistra is displaying a digital model I'm building: a Western Electric 202 phone. It's destined to become part of the furnishings in my version of Nelson's Dream Village Motel, a Route 66 landmark in Lebanon, Missouri. The Dream Village grabbed my esthetic soul for some reason, and I've been working on it sporadically, as a background project when other work wasn't pressing, for quite a while.

Here's the puzzle. Nelson's Dream Village was built in 1934, and its heyday was in the late '30s. When I set out to give the cabins a room phone, I knew that the 'candlestick' phone was still common at that time, but wasn't sure if the newer square style would have been available. Perusing online sources, I found the 202 was supposedly the most common phone in the '30s.

Yet I've never seen a real 202 before, and I'm reasonably certain that it wasn't used in Missouri or anywhere in the Midwest. Why certain? First, before the ATT breakup most folks kept their phones forever. It was just too much trouble and expense to switch the company-owned phone. I saw plenty of candlestick-style phones still in use through the '50s and '60s, but I never saw a 202. Second, I've been focused on electrical gadgets since birth, and spent a fair amount of money and time collecting old phones and radios. If this strikingly beautiful phone had been in a house or motel anywhere within my travels, I would have remembered it with affection; if it had been in an antique shop or auction, I would have bought it with joy. So I'm sure it wasn't used by Bell in the central part of the country, but it must have been common elsewhere, perhaps in the Northeast, judging by the number of 202's available on eBay.

Well, what to do? I finally decided to include it in the Dream Village model on the shaky grounds that it's the sort of thing Colonel Nelson would have wanted in his motel. He had an eye for style, and if this phone had been available from Bell, he certainly would have used it. (No, the actual reason is that it's the sort of thing I like, and I enjoyed building it!)

= = = = =

Much later note: The 202 ended up as part of the Arcade Hotel set, after the Nelson set didn't sell well.
 


<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Name:
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

ARCHIVES
March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 / March 2017 / April 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / July 2017 / August 2017 / September 2017 /


Major tags or subjects:

Aberree
Carbon Cult
Constants and variables
Defensible spaces
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
Patient things
Skill-estate
Switchover

Powered by Blogger