Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘1950s

‘Resolve to Make 1951 the Beginning of New Security for Your Family’

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October 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

America after the Bomb

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August 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

This Vibrates Me

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How to speak like a 1950s hipster.

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November 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm

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Elsewhere, U.S.A.

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I’ve got another book review in the Indy this week, this one of Dalton Conley’s Elsewhere, U.S.A.

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February 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Survival Under Atomic Attack

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Survival under atomic attack: it’s easier than you think! Via Cynical-C.

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September 30, 2008 at 4:17 am

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Good News for culturemonkeys (All about the 1950s)

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Never say Hollywood can’t learn from its mistakes. The producers have figured out how to please everyone: maintain earnestness regardless of the inherent absurdity of the genre, be ‘topical’ by way of empty allegory, be spectacularly violent, never stop moralizing. Meet these requirements, and a great deal of variety is possible: one has free reign to be jokey or serious, bright or gloomy, undisguisedly sexist, racist, homophobic, or none of the above, ‘critical,’ or ‘wish fulfillment.’ Or all of the above. These labels are simply not the creator’s responsibility. Restore the superhero’s propaganda function, in short, and in so doing prove Sontag’s thesis that “pure camp” is always so for the future and not the present.** The comic book-loving nerds of my generation are now faced with the dubious realization of our pubescent dreams: the nerds have taken over Hollywood, and the responsibility thus falls to the Figure of the Superhero to ‘teach us’ something about the “human condition.”

Good news for culturemonkeys: Ryan has a great post on superhero cinema over there. (And here too.) It’s more or less the definitive post on Dark Knight. But a few quick thoughts. First, I think Acephalous’s attempt to rehabilitate the film from attempts to understand it solely as a “balls-out obvious apolog[y] for the authoritarian, repressive ‘excesses’ of global capitalism” is instructive, and definitely worth reading.

Second, Ryan writes that we are currently experiencing the”repetition-as-farce of the ’50s”—but this doesn’t strike me as a new phenomenon. Isn’t it more the case that postwar American culture is perpetually returning to the ’50s as a site of degrading, doomed unity?

This is to say that Jameson’s claim that WWII is the moment of highest American nostalgia par excellence is, I think, fundamentally correct, with the revision that it’s more the period from Dec. 1941 to August 29, 1949, the day the Russians exploded their first atomic bomb. The ’50s are the memory of “the good ’40s” combined with and juxtaposed against the reality of 8/29/49—they are the dawning but perpetually unfinished recognition of how it all will go / is going / has already gone wrong. In other words, the ’50s themselves were a repetition-as-farce the first time around of the ideologically unacceptable, apocalyptic shock at the end of the previous decade—and we find ourselves going back to the ’50s for answers whenever we get shocked again.

That’s why, when 1973 is the year of disaster for American capitalism, Happy Days premieres in January 1974.

‘Caprica’ Airs This Fall

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While we wait for the last twelve hours of Battlestar Galactica (coming in 2009) we’ll at least have the long-awaited Caprica prequel to look forward to. Given my recent interest in Mad Men I find the spoilers rather interesting: it looks as though the BSG producers will be pretty explicitly aiming for a 1950s vibe.

io9 linked to some interesting photos this morning along these lines:

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July 9, 2008 at 10:39 pm

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