Friday, 15 April 2011

Talking Point: what's so swingin' about the '60s?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Mad Men renewed a long-held media fascination with the 1960s. Transformers 3 is partly set in 1969, the X-Men First Class prequel takes place entirely in the '60s, The Kennedys miniseries obviously focuses on that era, James Bond was rebooted via a Casino Royale update, the two-part premiere of Doctor Who's sixth series takes place on the eve of the Moon Landing, and Will Smith travels back in time to the '60s for Men In Black III. TV pilots Pan Am and Playboy are set in the Swinging Sixties, too. Why are the '60s back in fashion? Or has that decade always been so trendy? And if so, why?

Is it simply because there's so much great stuff to revisit? JFK, The Beatles, the Summer of Love, the Apollo space program, Martin Luther King, the rise of recreational drugs, Malcolm X, the civil rights movement, the Bay of Pigs, bra-burning suffragettes, England winning the World Cup in '66, the Cuban Missile Crisis, hippies, etc. Is there no other decade that can rival its mix of social, political, and cultural changes?

Or is it just the nearest decade that people under-40 (who generally dictate the gaze of entertainment), don't personally remember, so they can re-imagine it with fantasy trappings? And people over-40, who DO remember the '60s, have maybe convinced themselves it was the exciting period the media now promotes? We all think our youth was rosier, as you're more innocent and naïve the further back you go. Is there any truth to any of this?

Or do we just love sharp suits, trilbies, and miniskirts?

Let me know what you think about the media's perception of the '60 and why that decade's always been popular. It may also be fun to reveal your age (if only very generally!), so we can contextualize your thoughts. For me, I was born in 1979, so have no personal attachment to the '60s beyond what I know from history and have seen in the media. I think the decade just has an innate coolness about it (the fashions, the social changes, the politics), and was the birth of the "modern culture". Do you agree?