Friday, August 17, 2012

The Treasurer's Report


At a convention recently, a writer who entered the field at about the same time I did and who probably wouldn't appreciate being quoted in this context, observed that one of the advantages of growing old is that you know a lot of things younger people don't.  He was talking about things known simply because he was there at the time. But it strikes me that it equally applies to pop culture.

For example, how many young people nowadays know that the humorist Robert Benchley also starred in many movie shorts of  his own devising?  For that matter, how many young people have ever heard of Robert Benchley at all?  When I was a kid, they taught his essays in school.

Anyway, above is Benchley's best-known movie short, "The Treasurer's Report."




JJM said...

Those of us who grew up in the age of recorded media are the first generation that could directly experience the (pop) culture of our parents and grandparents. I have more than once had occasion to be glad of this -- watching with my mother the films of her youth, and listening to big band era music on PBS, proved a true bonding experience for us.

And oh, those old, old films, the scratchy ones, the silent ones ... seeing the tsar and his family on a pleasant outing on their yacht, unaware of what would happen in a few short years; the sad and solemn funeral procession of Queen Victoria, and William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo mere hours before his assassination; Mark Twain having tea with his daughter ... I can watch such films for hours. Even just scenes of daily life in the late 19th / early 20th centuries become endlessly fascinating. Closest we'll ever come to time travel. --Mario R.

Michael Swanwick said...

Or George Bernard Shaw saying, "People say that I'm a monster, but I think that I'm rather a kindly old man," with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Our generation was also the last to stay up late because a movie we wanted to see was playing at 1 a.m. I can't help thinking of a Russian friend complaining that his son didn't understand him. "He asks why we copied out entire books by hand. Well . . . we just wanted to read them."

Brian Siano said...

Chris Rock had a great line on W. Kumar Bell's show last week: "My kids are rich. I can't relate to them."

When we think about the work we had to do to enjoy things years ago-- say, waiting for the TLA to run a particular movie so we could see it-- it's funny to realize what we want when we talk about that stuff. Why do we want younger people to know that the easy stuff they get used to take work? Do we want them to see us as _heroic_? "Wow, Dad, you couldn't just buy a DVD? You had to pay to sit in a crummy theater where _hippies_ hung out? You must've been a _total badass!_"