What are blue jeans doing in the old royal courts of Europe…? Glad you asked!
Films like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and the countless tales of the elegant-speaking Elizabethan and Victorian eras are attended today by droves of blue-jeaned popcorn-munchers who couldn’t tell you the difference between a split infinitive and banana split. What’s more they don’t care. You see, for most of them (us?) watching the sophisticated form and formality on the screen is like visiting an art museum. Nice to look at….not to look like.
There once was form and formality in 20th C America too. Dad always dressed in three-piece suits; gave his seat to a lady; and in age of properly starched white shirts, his idea of casual was the white shirt without a tie. But not so much after the 1960s. In that raucous re-energizing decade, America started to become something different. Youth challenged Age. Change challenged continuity. The chant was: “You can’t trust anyone over 30.”
Nothing wrong with relaxing the rules. The question now 50 years later is, what are the rules? Or are there many rules left?
The answer that roars back from the rock-concert, buddy-film, pot-smoking, motor-cycle legions echoes the 60’s: “If it feels right, how can it be wrong?” A question — actually a challenge — few today are willing to take on, lest they be dismissed as silly anachronisms.
Speaking as a walking anachronism, I can accept being dismissed. What I wonder, though, is why casual grungy America remains so fascinated with Elizabethan/ Victorian form and formality. When you look back you can’t help noticing how those sterner & staid worlds, even with all their faults, helped make possible our own amazing & aspiring world. Could that mean….? No, no, that’s a silly thought…! But still…?
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