The past is a foreign country
I tried watching a classic Western this weekend, How The West Was Won. I did not make it far. Let’s just say that in the first few minutes, the Spencer Tracy voiceover that accompanies the sweeping vistas sets out an attitude toward the indigenous population that would not fly today.
It’s one thing to be repulsed by a film from another era, but it’s even more uncomfortable to revisit the films from your own teenage years.
Tim Carmody has written about the real hero of Top Gun:
Iceman’s concern for Maverick and the safety of his fighter unit is totally understandable. He tries, however awkwardly, to discuss Goose’s death with Maverick. There’s no discussion of blame. And when they’re assigned to fly into combat together, Iceman briefly and discreetly raises the issue of Maverick’s fitness to fly with his superior officer and withdraws his concern once a decision is made.
I know someone who didn’t watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off until they were well into adulthood. Their sympathies lay squarely with Dean Rooney.
And I think we can all agree in hindsight that Walter Peck was completely correct in his assessment of the dangers in Ghostbusters.
Oh, and The Karate Kid was the real bully.
This week, George wrote I’ve fallen out of love with Indiana Jones. Indy’s attitude of “it belongs in a museum” is the same worldview that got the Parthenon Marbles into the British Museum (instead of, y’know, the Parthenon where they belong).
Adrian Hon invites us to imagine what it would be like if the tables were turned. He wrote a short piece of speculative fiction called The Taking of Stonehenge:
We selected these archaeological sites based on their importance to our collective understanding of human and galactic history, and their immediate risk of irreparable harm from pollution, climate change, neglect, and looting. We are sympathetic to claims that preserving these sites in their “original” context is important, but our duty of care outweighs such emotional considerations.