For some reason, more and more of my fellow humans become “conservative”, or as I prefer it, “passeists”.
If you take a look at the news, you can see that one of the very few things the US government has got right is that everywhere you see a radicalizing battle between people who want to change things (admittedly to go back to some “golden age”) and people who want things to stay the same.
The thing hit me hard this morning when I heard about Marion Cotillard getting an oscar for her performance in playing Edith Piaf, a huge star of French singing… in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Now I won’t deny that this is deserved or anything. I just remember when I was a younger guy, traveling here and there, I managed to convince some people that we had no cars, and no electricity. That most french women still dress like Marie Antoinette during the weekends. That I knew about computers only because I got one from a big American company’s dumpster. That, and the fact that we still sung Edith Piaf’s classics during breakfast.
People who’ve never been to France know 3 facts about us : we have the Eiffel Tower, there are some terrasses at the cafes in Paris, and Edith Piaf sung “la vie en rose”. That, and we’re grumpy, dirty, and always on strike. It’s mostly true (even the grumpy part… but not the dirty part… well, not any more than anybody else), but that’s not it.
Our politicians long for the good old days when they had a real and clear role and fame in our society. Our president has to multiply the announces and the scandals just to exist. And how does he achieve that? By asking twice a week that we “go back to the fundamentals”: morals and etiquette at school, less social protection, more religion.
Half of the music hits in the past year are remakes or new albums from the “old scene”. I have nothing against a good classic. I have nothing against a new version of an old favorite. But I sometimes go to bars and small concerts, and I hear new things that can compete with the aforesaid classics. But it’s hard for them to go through.
“La môme” is just the most successful example of these reconstitutions of the “good old days” movies we get so much. Rewriting History to make it more bearable, and some sort of a lost Eldorado, has become the number one selling point. Everyone seems to forget that it wasn’t so easy, that women didn’t have such revealing clothing, and that dying for unknown reasons, or without justice, was far more frequent.
Even sex is not as good as it was in the sixties. “Poor kids, it was better in my time, we didn’t have AIDS” is quite frequent, homophobia still is a reality, and (according to movies) they knew how to have great sex in those times. Now we have to rely on sex toys and role-playing to get our kicks.
Even the working world still struggles with that. In a world that changes daily, the people at the helm mostly are who used to think that Internet was just for an underground population, or that other countries are far away. If you do something borderline immoral abroad, it won’t have any impact on your local life. At first I was watching economical shows with the CEOs of the biggest French companies (aka CAC40) just to get a laugh from their misrepresentation of the current level of technology, but now, it saddens me.
Of course, everything’s not black and white. There are a lot of people who actually have a grasp of the real world (and I don’t pretend to even begin to understand the world. Just the tiny bit where I have my life, and even there… not all of it). But they are always the underdogs, the second-in-commands, in the shadows.
What I would just like is to hear sometimes that we live in a good era. Learning from the past is a good thing. Replaying it over an over as an ideal is just demoralizing.