Marketing Info

golden age ideas

“I wish there was some way to know you’re in the good old days before you actually leave them.” -Andy Bernard, The Office

*Spoiler alert* in the first few paragraphs if you’ve never seen Midnight in Paris before.

In Midnight in Paris, struggling novelist Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) feels like a fish out of water in modern times.

On a trip to Paris with his fiancé and future in-laws, Pender romanticizes the idea of ​​writing in the City of Lights during the freewheeling Roaring 20s.

If he had gone back to that time, all his problems would have been solved and he would have been much happier.

Michael Sheen plays Paul, a connoisseur who tries to set Pender straight into his nostalgia for another time:

Indifference is denial – denial of the painful present … and the name of this delusion is called golden age thinking – The mistaken belief that a different time period is better than living one – this is a flaw in the romantic imagination of those who find it difficult to cope with the present.

Here is the scene of the film:


This scene provided some good foreshadowing for the rest of the film.

Through some film magic, Pender is taken back on his midnight walk through Paris in the 1920s, by Ernest Hemingway, F. Hanging out with the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, TS Eliot and Salvador Dalí.

In these ventures he falls for 1920s Adriana (played by Marion Cotillard) prematurely, but she doesn’t see her time as the Golden Age of Paris.

So when Gil and Adriana are transported back to the Belle Epoque period in the late 1800s, they think it must be the most wonderful time in history to live in.

Of course, when Gill asks some of the people of the time what era he liked best, he answers the Renaissance.

It is easy to look at past generations or perhaps your childhood and conclude that things must have been better.

A survey of Americans, Britons and French asked people whether life in their country is better or worse today than it was 50 years ago. About a third of Britons, 41% of Americans and almost half of French people said the situation was worse now.

Johann Norberg recently wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal explaining why this happens:

Psychologists say that such indifference is natural and sometimes useful: Anchoring our identities in the past helps to give us a sense of stability and predictability. For individuals, nostalgia is especially common when we experience rapid transitions such as puberty, retirement or moving to a new country. Similarly, collective apathy—the longing for the good old days, when life was simpler and people behaved better—can also be a source of communal strength in difficult times.

Another reason is that historical nostalgia is often colored by personal nostalgia. When were the good old days? Was that, by chance, an incredibly short period in human history when you were young? A US survey found that people born in the 1930s and 1940s rated the 1950s as America’s best decade, while those born in the 1960s and 1970s preferred the 1980s. In the 1980s, the popular TV show “Happy Days” was set in a nostalgic version of the 1950s; Today, the popular series “Stranger Things” lovingly captures the fashion and music of the 1980s.

For most families in America, the period 1900–1950 may have marked the beginning of the greatest technological changes for any generation in history.

People were introduced to many luxuries that we now take for granted – radios, refrigerators, washing machines, irons, full electricity in their homes, private indoor toilets, central heating, air conditioning, automobiles and much more.

The high school graduation rate rose from just 10% in 1900 to over 50% by 1950. Average life span from 57 to 72.

Almost somehow the world was a far better place in 1950 than it was in 1900.

Yet not many people saw it that way in the 1950s.

Frederick Lewis Allen writes the definitive book about America’s transformation in the first half of the 20th century The Big Change: America Changed Itself, 1900–1950. He describes the plight of the upper-middle class in 1950 and how they yearned for the days of 1900:

Because wages and construction material costs in the building business were much lower than they are today, they could live in much larger quarters. Since the wages of servants were very low and candidates for the job of servants were plentiful, they could adequately staff these large quarters. In addition, they were spared a number of expenses that most of their descendants would certainly have incurred: the cost of an automobile (much higher than that of a horse and carriage); the cost of additional gadgets such as electric refrigerators, washing machines, radios, television sets, or what not; the cost of college education for children of both sexes; And an extra house for weekend or summer use is very likely to cost. (As we’ve seen, far fewer affluent Americans had “summer spots” than they do now.) So the person whose salary would now command a fairly cramped apartment could occupy a house that is much larger today. appears to be.

Elderly people who look back on childhood today, who lived under whatever circumstances I am just describing, are sometimes treated with nostalgia. Life then seems to have become much easier in its demands, and few facilities were far more accessible. These people felt that maintaining a sense of family identity was easier then than it is now. People who live in adequate homes are more able to care for older or invalid or ineffective relatives than families with less space. In fact, it is quite possible that part of the social security problem of our times—the widely expressed need for pensions, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, etc., stems from the fact that many families can no longer afford shelter to those in need. whom they believed. Their dependent-grandmothers, who used to have a third-floor room, or eccentric cousin Tom, who were trapped in hell. Even when one makes every leeway for many of the good things today that the rich people of the 1900s (and those close to their way of life) had to go without, one has to admit that Should do that there is a basis for nostalgia.

I’m sure no one felt sorry for the wealthy of the 1950s who were no longer able to pay such low wages for their servants, but you can see how widespread nostalgia can be for those too May those who have seen improvement in their life increase manifold.

When I was a freshman in college, seniors would always give us stories about how much better the party scene was when they first arrived on campus. I made fun of these stories until my friend and I said the same thing when we were seniors.

Over time people tend to remember more positive things than negative ones.

Norberg cited research from school children returning from summer vacation. When they were asked to list both the good and the bad from their summers, the lists were basically exactly the same length. When the same exercise was repeated a few months later, the good side of the ledger became longer while the bad side became shorter. By the end of the year, only good things remained in his memory.

There is nothing wrong with feelings of nostalgia. In some ways, building a portfolio of nostalgic feelings in your memory bank is life.

But the good old days might not be as grand as you think.

Newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams, himself writing during the roaring 20s, once remarked, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

Further reading:
50 ways the world is getting better

This post was originally published on December 31, 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button