I ponder if one thing like the alternative is going on now: The attract of presentism is inflicting folks to romanticize up to date views on the expense of an excessively vilified previous. It’s uncomfortable to dwell in grey areas, to confess imperfections, to acknowledge blind spots — higher to have a 100-minute documentary or four-part podcast to permit us to tidily “rethink” one thing that we received fallacious the primary time round, so we by no means must suppose too onerous about it once more.
However to consider the linear, one-dimensional narrative that Woodstock ’99 or misogynistic media protection of Britney Spears can solely be seen in hindsight is to gloss over the truth that loads of folks felt uncomfortable with these phenomena whereas they have been occurring. To dutifully carry out belated horror at how tabloids wrote about Spears within the early 2000s, how macho rock tradition was within the late ’90s, how blithely racist white individuals who take heed to hip-hop used to be, is in some methods to consider a comforting fiction that each one of those issues have been solved as soon as and for all.
The previous was imperfect, sure, however so is the current. Inevitably, the long run will probably be too. The lesson to be taken from all these reconsiderations is just not essentially how a lot wiser we at the moment are, however how troublesome it’s to see the biases of the current second. If something, these appears to be like again must be reminders to remain vigilant towards presentism, typical knowledge and the numbing orthodoxy of groupthink. They invite us to surprise concerning the blind spots of our present cultural second, and to be careful for the types of behaviors and assumptions that may, in 20 years’ time, look nearsighted sufficient to seem in a kitschy montage about the way in which issues have been.
The most effective film I noticed this 12 months broke this cycle, primarily by presenting one other, extra harmonious manner the previous and current coexist. Todd Haynes’s exceptional and immersive documentary “The Velvet Underground” didn’t a lot depict the previous by means of the restricted vital lens of the current, however as an alternative conjured its personal visceral temporality — a bit of bit like Andy Warhol did in his personal sluggish, unusual artwork movies.
I used to be not alive in 1967, the 12 months the Velvet Underground launched its debut album, however for a heady and hypnotic two hours, I may have sworn I used to be. Cut up-screen photographs instructed the validity of a number of truths. The music’s blaring brilliance rained down self-evidently moderately than having to be overexplained by speaking heads. Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico and Moe Tucker all appeared, at numerous moments, to be each geniuses and jerks. Neither glorified nor condemned, 1967 got here flickering alive and appeared about as fantastic and terrible a time to be alive as 1999 or 2021. Or, it stands to motive, 2022.
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