When you watch a movie like "North by Northwest," it can be somewhat depressing. Not necessarily because of the content (it is a great movie), so much as because of the backgrounds, specifically the extras.
Ignore the characters for a second and just pay attention to the people in the background. They're doing what people still do these days, namely eating in restaurants, having a couple of drinks, and so on. But instead of looking like a mishmash of humanity culled from a combination trailer park and died-in-the-wool middle class subdivision, almost every extra is wearing nice clothes, actually conversing with the people they're eating or drinking with, and generally behaving like adults.
Now, I don't necessarily pine for the days where it was socially unacceptable to leave your house without a three piece suit and a fedora. I like to wear shorts and sandals as much as the next guy.
But where did this attitude that wearing a suit is some form of full-body shackle come from? Unless you have no idea what you're doing or your tailor can't work a tape measure, dress shirts and ties simply don't choke you.
Even in a suit that doesn't fit right, you still look better than wearing perfectly tailored beach bum attire. You might not, but you certainly give the appearance of caring about your looks.
And how about this? Maybe as a nation we can collectively agree that sporting events just aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. I know, this runs counter to the apparently prevailing line of thinking that without sports our culture would be a banal wasteland of hollow trivial pursuits. But it's kind of hard to get worked up over a playoff baseball game when you spend the morning watching a prosecutor convict a man who raped a woman and beat her so bad she's now blind and essentially a vegetable.
Suddenly, whether or not Carl Crawford strikes out with the bases loaded is meaningless. His ability to drive in a couple of runs won't fix what happened, and it won't make her family feel any better.
Reading for pleasure, dressing like you care, being able to carry a conversation that doesn't include references to sporting events, treating children like subordinate actors in society (whatever happened to the notion that kids should be seen and not heard?). Did I miss a meeting?
I really don't mean to channel Andy Rooney here. Ever since he ridiculed Kurt Cobain's suicide on air, I've detested the guy. But since I watch "60 Minutes" I sometimes catch a few seconds of his schtick while I viciously search for the remote, and it's always "the world has passed me by, when did this start happening, and this, and this," ad naseum.
The world wasn't better in the 1950s because people wore suits. It wasn't better, period. Certainly the constant threat of nuclear annihilation made life suck to a degree, and minority citizens could fill shelves, probably entire libraries, about the things they had to endure back then. Technology obviously wasn't near as advanced, air conditioning wasn't as ubiquitous, mortality rates were probably higher across the board, etc., etc.
But when did this country decide that dressing like a slob, engrossing yourself in fantasy football, and surrendering your life for your kids' social activities become the definition of "adult?"
So horribly sad. How is it I feel like laughing?
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