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  • Susmita

As The Years Go By, As We Grow Up And Grow Old

I find these to be absolutely facinating. The 50's and 60s don't feel like they were that long ago to me, I guess mainly because both of my parents are on the older side and were born in those decades. But looking at these videos, it really feels like a long lost dystopian alternate universe. These videos really bring out the inner time traveler in me. I remember as a kid liking movies, books, and TV shows that had an element of time travel in them.

One of my favorite shows growing up was this crime drama (one of my favorite genres) called Cold Case where two detectives in the early 2000s would look at cold cases from decades ago ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s and whenever they would interview people that the victims knew or people that might have clues relating to who committed the murders, they would show little flashbacks of younger versions of those people from decades ago as well as the societal norms they adhered to back then. I remember that one of my favorite episodes was about this teenage girl who was murdered in the late 50s. While the 50s are very known for their rigid gender roles, this girl was very much a tomboy. She got in trouble a lot with teachers and her parents and her peers often ridiculed her for having short hair, wearing pants, not having any interest in makeup etc. She wasn't trans but she carried herself in a very androgenous way. Because this was the 50s, they thought there was something messed up in her brain and thought she was confused about her gender so she was sent to a mental hospital where she underwent a lot of shock therapy that messed with her emotionally. Her death was super sad to me because she broke out of the hospital with the help of her friend. She had one guy friend who was also in love with her. She asked him to take her to the spot by the lake where they hung out and then asked him to kill her since the shock therapy more or less put her in a very unresponsive state. The way this episode was shot was in a way that show cased the social dynamics of the time, the rigidity etc. while still having a focus on the present day detective work. I remember searching up the accuracy of the depictions in that episode and surprisingly apparently shock therapy for not adhering to gender roles were very much a thing back then. I was horrified that things were that bad back then.

Another vintage thing that I find fascinating is people's view back then of what the future is going to be like. This is a video from 1967 about what they thought 1999 was going to be like. I find this comical because 1999 wasn't like that lol. It also reminds me of the time I decided to watch the movie Back to the Future Part II where Marty travels to 2015 back in 2013 as a kid and finding it wild that the people back then thought we would have flying cars and actual hoverboards by then. I think focusing on the technological advancements of the future is a less controversial and more whimsical way of imagining the future. Maybe this is the way my mind works but whenever I contrast the 50s and now, the first thing that comes to my mind is social progress and how people view their place in society. Like sure we have a lot of technology that wasn't present back then but it's not to the point where it's like the Jetsons and its completely other worldly in that aspect.

To me, the other worldly, dystopian aspects of the past comes from people's attitudes and world views. But predicting attitudes and world views can be extremely controversial since they often have a political aspect to them. Like imagine going to the 50s and telling someone that segregation won't be a thing in 2020, interracial marriage is legal, and that people are comfortable with coming out as gay and trans. Of course there are still people who throw a fit with interracial marriage and are homophobic and transphobic, but my point is that all of this would be absolutely inconceivable back in the 50s. Sure we still have problems now and I'm not undermining any of that, but it would be a misconception to say that we haven't come a long way in our collective mentalities. As usual, the trend of history is to be more conscious and loving and as a result more and more left leaning and radical in the eyes of conservatives and people who want to preserve the status quo. And I wonder all the ways we will advance as people in the coming decades and what things we will look back in the 2010s and 2020s and see as barbaric.

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