Thursday, 4 March 2010

Present pessimism versus fond reflections...

During the few weeks that I was working for, a website that serves live links in sync with television programmes, I spent a vast amount of time searching the seemingly infinite internet for links relevant to the programme. It was an illuminating experience to say the least - I stumbled across interactive LAPD crime maps that mark exactly what crimes have happened where and sincere accounts of personally experienced alien abductions, to name just a couple.

However, the websites that I most enjoyed perusing were the loud, colourful jumble of sites that spilled out of google when I searched for links on the 60s. It didn't take many clicks to confirm that the Austin Powers-style depiction of a flamboyant, bubbling decade was true to many. In fact, it wasn't just the nostalgic musings of aging swingers that convinced me – sites that simply catalogued key 60s moments also heralded a certain fizzy excitement.

Martin Luther King had a dream, JFK was assassinated, Neil Armstrong took 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' and the Concorde took off… …England won the World Cup, the Berlin Wall appeared, flower power and festivals blossomed and popular politics exploded…

Clicking my way through wistful websites brought to mind a module that I studied at university: Youth Rebellion in the 20th century. Even fairly dry academic description - 'the first era of extended youth that rejected the parental generation' – didn’t completely nullify the period. The course portrayed a groundbreaking decade of pushing boundaries, shaping the future and making history.

In comparison, the land of the noughties gets little positive press and the capacity to shock and push boundaries has been stunted. Revolutionary rock stars have been replaced with endless streams of celebrity nobodies, students are villainised as binge drinking wasters cushioned from reality by their student loans, idealistic passions have been replaced by dismissive resignation and apathy, and cynicism abounds.

However, despite a pessimistic press, to unquestioningly shelve the noughties as a lacklustre, humdrum era is unjust. It is rare that the media seizes on the positive aspects of the age, such as the passionate environmental protests of the clean and green, or the astounding fundraising fervour of some celebrities.

In fact, the reality of the 60s was probably less upbeat than current perceptions of the decade, which forty years later, are largely informed by rose-tinted reflections. I am sure that, forty years from now, the scathing social commentaries of today will also be diluted by the nostalgia of a reminiscent generation.

The swinging sixties are recalled as decade of hippies, rock stars and liberation. Maybe the noughties will be fondly remembered as an era of diversity and tolerance, glamour and stardom… Only time will tell!

No comments:

Post a Comment