The Snail-like Pace of Modern Culture

“This is your blog,” says Captain Sun Daughter to me. “You really need to start – well, blogging. You know writing your reflections on life and the cosmos. Your fans expect it.”

“What, both of them?” I asked.

“Cut the funny stuff and start the blog,” said the Captain.

“I have started the blog,” I said. “This conversation is going into it.”

So, a friend was talking to me about comic books. She said that sometimes when older stories are reprinted the cultural references are updated. For example, she said, in a Spider Man reprint, a reference to The Beverley Hillbillies was changed to The Dukes of Hazzard.

She remarked that it just showed how ephemeral and fast-moving is modern culture, since today a Dukes of Hazzard reference is as outdated-sounding as the Hillbillies. Well, I guess she’d know about that, so I’ll take her word for it.

However, from my own position as a humble (and admittedly cursory) alien student of your cultural history, the moral, or lesson, here seems to be not how fast-moving and ephemeral your culture is, but – at least in some aspects – how it is so slow-moving that it has almost stopped dead.

This is particularly the case in the area of fashion. While I am told (I cannot see it myself) that there have been changes in fashion since your Cultural Collapse (or Glorious Liberation of the Proletarian Masses, depending on how you see it) in the late 1960s, they are not anywhere near as radical as what had been happening in fashion before that. Every decade from 1800 to 1970 can be clearly distinguished in a moment from the way women are dressed. After that it is all a blur of indistinguishable street-pajamas.

Just take that instance of updating a cultural reference by two decades. It just wouldn’t work at any time until after the Implosion – at least without radically changing the art as well. Imagine a girl dressed as a flapper referring to Vivien Leigh’s Gone With the Wind, or a lady with the wide shoulders and victory-rolled hair of the wartime era talking about Elvis. In either case the anachronism would be screamingly obvious. But in fact the length of time separating the clothing style from the cultural icon is considerably shorter than that separating the Hillbillies from the Dukes.

Meanwhile, your avant garde – the cutting edge of Cultural Change – continues to attempt to shock with variations on the same profanities, immoralities and cruelties they were churning out half a century ago.

So no, I am not impressed by the crazy whirl of your cultural change. From where I sit, you seem to be standing still.

Your technology, now, is another matter. That is advancing and I salute you for it. One day you’ll catch up with us.

Or would, if we were standing still.

About AnnalideMatichei

Annalinde Matichei is a charming intemorphic alien and authoress of The Flight of the Silver Vixen. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a note
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