The film is a saddening bore


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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50 Responses

  1. You left out the significant other in the background yelling “Are you still on your computer?!??!”Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    A soldier holding a cat attending a same-sex wedding with bad grammar.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    The decades UbikComm’s:
    40s — newspapers
    50s — radio
    60s — telephone
    70s — tv
    80s — desk-top computer
    90s — cell phone
    00s — laptop
    10s — smartphone
    20s — ???

    UbikComms = Ubiquitous communication devices, does not necessarily require two-way communication.

    A second list of Status-conferring UbikComms would be good, but I’m off to see my dentist and have a fitting (rather like having a wedding gown fit) of my new teeth; the 3rd set to replace the ones I left on a road some 40 years ago now.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Cell phones were ubiquitous in the 90s? Man, I am late to everything.

      I remember seeing cell phones as something wealthy and/or business people had until at least the very late 90s, if not the early aughts. I knew people who had beepers into the aughts, too, which I also thought of as status-conferring in the 80s and 90s.

      Also, here’s how fast things moved in the 90s: in 1995, I was the only person on my dorm floor with a personal computer (this allowed me to make money by typing people’s papers, which was nice). The computer labs were relatively empty most of the time. A couple years later (’97 or ’98), the computer lab was packed 24/7, but there were still a lot of students who didn’t have computers at home. By 2000, when I was in grad school, I had students taking notes on laptops, and all of them had personal computers of some sort. It still blows me away how fast computers became so central to our lives.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        1993 – The Fugitive. You knew that Harrison Ford was really, really good at his job because he had a car phone.

        1994 – Pulp Fiction. During the diner robbery: “Is that a cell phone? In the sack.”

        1997 – Tomorrow Never Dies. James Bond was issued a cell phone that could drive a car and had a tazer. I don’t know if it should be included as representative of anything because he got a pen in Goldeneye (1995).

        By The Matrix (1999), enough people had cell phones that we’d reached the point where cell phones had to do cool stuff like “open like a stiletto knife” to be notable. And open like a stiletto they did.

        So for the 90’s, I’d probably say “CD player”.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2004. As pretty much everyone I knew got a cell phone over the early aughts, I kept saying, “I’m never going to get a cell phone. If people want to talk to me, they can talk to me when I’m hone.” When I got a cell phone, I felt like I’d let myself down.

        Now I’m trying to figure out a way to get my cell phone surgically attached.Report

      • Avatar trumwill says:

        My brother went through the exact same process. My wife sort of did though she’s still somehow able to not have her phone on her at all times.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        You know, this may be highly dependent on geography.

        Until ’96, I lived in Boston; and yes, cell phones were common. In ’96, I moved to Maine, where they were uncommon, mostly because the tower infrastructure didn’t exist.

        So we can modify the list; 90’s were the CD player. the 00’s the cell phone and the laptop, the 10s the hand-held device that replaced the cellphone, laptop, camera, and CD player.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      I would say that desktop 80s and cell phone 90s are status conferring UbikComms. I knew a lot more people with laptops in the late 90s than people with personal (as opposed to employer provided) cell phones.Report

  4. Avatar NewDealer says:

    My parents are prime boomers and listened to all the music of the 1960s and are still liberal and did some drugs but said that the number of true drop out hippies was rather small compared to what film shows you. Most people had to work and the work culture of the day was still very prim and conservative. My dad got a deferment from the Vietnam War by teaching in Harlem and going to law school at night. My mom did attend some Vietnam War protests but said it was mainly social for her.

    I think our culture is largely too fragmented and niched to be conveyed in a single cliche. The phone thing works. Being a Brooklyn and Bay Area guy, I imagine that the hipster could work as visual short-hand for the current era (skinny jeans, ironic facial hair, waiting on long lines for a seat at good restaurants) but that is one bit of the early 2000s time capsule. It doesn’t cover the hip-hop scene or the tech start-up scene. Gentrification can also be a visual short hand for the Aughts and 2010s.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I tried to find some way to convey exactly this point in the OP and skipped over it- even at the time the hippies acknowledged that most young people weren’t hippies. I suspect it’s the same with most examples of visual shorthand that cinema uses. I was wondering what the origin of those images could be, but of course the fact is that cinema is borrowing from the news reports of the time, particularly news reels and then television that did exactly the same thing- a love-in is more interesting visually than all a secretary like my mom going to work.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t think it wasn’t that the music was popular but a full-on lifestyle especially one like hippie-dom requires a strong amount of free-will or trust funds. Many people were probably weekend hippies. They listened to the music and dressed the part on their free time but also needed to keep their hair reasonable enough for work.

        The media and movies of the day also seemed to take a lot of emphasis from the hippies and the counterculture from Easy Rider to Laugh-In to countless other examples and it stuck. I imagine that an overwhelming number of boomer media people were more hippie than the average person. Artists set the culture and artists were able to indulge in hippiedom more probably. Also GAP and Urban Outfitters and Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee started out as hippie-companies and are now part of the big corporation establishment. The original Starbucks was a rebellion against piss poor coffee like Folger’s.

        Most people are not hipsters but many artists are and as they will be the ones who write books, make movies, TV shows, etc. Lena Dunham was a creative writing major from Oberlin. She probably knows a lot of people who are living in cities and dreaming of the art world life and working retail during the day or bartending at night. She might not know many people working as accountants. Of course she is going to make Girls to reflect a kind of hipster Brooklyn.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Nice David Bowie reference though.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        and I am fervently glad that not all writers write about what they know in such a restrictive sense.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        If you mean in the title, thank you! I would note too that this is my third consecutive post whose title comes from Bowie lyrics.

        In regards to the hippies, I just read something in Raymond Mungo’s book ‘Famous Long Ago’ that sort of addresses this- basically, he says a lot of young people chose to join “the Movement” because they just didn’t want to get a straight job and found ways to make it pay the bills, hence the alternate media outlets and so forth.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        There has to be something more than writers simply writing what they know as to why hippies became the ubiquitous sign of the 1960s. During the 1950s, the suburb was the ubiquitous social form presented on media even though most rust belt cities only started to decline after 1960 and most writers probably lived more urban lifestyles even if they worked for the networks. Even during the 1960s, young people were presented as being hippies as a class. I think the hippies represented such a radical break from past models of twenty and thirty something behavior that they overtook the zeitgeist.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        My guess is that there are 10,000 times as many people who claim to have gone to Woodstock as who actually went to Woodstock.

        Like wow, man, we were on the way, but the car broke down, and this guy came along to help fix it and he had some really good weed, and we never made it.

        I have had multiple people say nearly those exact words to me when, after vaguely indicated they were at Woodstock, I pressed them on it.

        I don’t think I’m alone in suspecting that those who did not know about Woodstock until after it was all over, and who wouldn’t have gone had they known, were out getting their revenge at Tea Party rallies a couple of years ago, creating some weird karmic balance decades apart that has surely kept the universe from imploding.

        And I suspect, like Woodstock, there were a similar number of actual engaged folk and 10,000 times as many stuck in broken-down cars along the road.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        My English teacher in high school (probably born in the mid-40s) said he did not hear about Woodstock until there were reports on the radio and TV about how the New York State thruway was jammed with traffic.

        The joke I heard was “If you can remember woodstock, you weren’t there.”Report

    • Avatar dexter says:

      New Dealer, The hippies were no more than a fad with a little better than average music. There is very little difference between the bobby soxers, hippies and disco. Your right about thinking the anti-war movement was a social construct where you went to meet people. Unless you had a low draft number it really didn’t matter how much napalm Nixon and Johnson dropped on Vietnam. The second you got your deferment you went Galt. The rest is the sad history of the incredible shrinking middle class.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        My parents were liberal Democrats when they were in their 20s. And are liberal Democrats in their 60s. My grandparents were liberal Democrats who were upset that were upset that Adlai Stevenson lost twice and voted for Carter in 80, Mondale in 84, and Dukakis in 88. No one in my family ever voted Republican.

        Not every boomer went Galt and not every member of the Greatest Depression became Reaganites. Some or many stayed true to their New Deal/New Frontier/Great Society roots.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’d posit that the cell phone holds a unique place in this pantheon for the suddenness of its social ubiquity, it’s intrusiveness into ordinary life, and the enthusiasm with which it has been welcomed.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I’d also add that the tablet, like the iPad, has a feature built in that in an epistolary sense may be like the annoying ness of the Gordon Gekkos on ages past with their brick-thick mobile phones: I write here of autocorrect. One of my biggest pet peeves is misuse of “it’s” and “its”. My iPad INSISTS on autocorrecting them in EXACTLY THE WRONG WAY, EVERY TIME. Argh!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I will forever love autocorrect because it gave us “Damn You Autocorrect!”Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My autocorrect prefers the word autoconnect…Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hey Burt, I haven’t tried this, but supposedly there is a kludge to fix consistent incorrect autocorrecting of a given word…supposedly if you type the offending word in the Notepad app a few times, overriding the autocorrect each time, that somehow prompts the autocorrect learning function to actually FREAKING LEARN (and so remember going forward, in other apps) that you meant what you originally typed. I know when I am on the iPad I don’t even bother with italics HTML, because EVERY SINGLE TIME, no matter how many times I override it and the presence of the <>‘s, it assumes I mean “first person singular” instead.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I like the old solution to autocorrect, which is “a physical keyboard.” Quaint, I know. Who cares about productivity because toys!!

        Excuse me while I go check my lawn for young kids trampling on it…Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I bet you think italics are all about you.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, I obliquely lean that way.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I bet you think italics are all about you.

        I’m so vain.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

        Egregiously bad autocorrect (for that matter, egregiously bad text entry methods in general) is one of the prices (along with, well, the price) one pays for using iOS rather than Android. I recall a year or so ago Lifehacker ran a comparison of the two (geared mostly toward phones rather than tablets) wherein several people who had tried Android and then gone back to iOS said the thing that they missed the most about Android was Swiftkey.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        And even Swiftkey isn’t perfect. I actually use a competing product, but autocorrect is an issue with all of them.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      You saw my post in Drafts, didn’t you, and are prodding me to post it, aren’t you? FINE!

      (Actually, I don’t expect that you’ve seen it, but it sounds better if I can present it as being something “by popular demand!” than “Hey, we’re talking about something and I have a post sitting in drafts on the subject…”)Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Well, the problem is that “the decades” don’t mesh up nicely with the years that end in 0.

    I’d say that the 40’s lasted as long as Truman was in office and so the 50’s didn’t *REALLY* start until Eisenhower was elected. 60’s started with Kennedy’s assassination and ended with… Vietnam ending, maybe? Surely no later than Watergate. Making the 70’s a relatively short decade ending with Reagan’s nomination. The 80’s itself probably lasted until… Nevermind? At which point the 90’s lasted until 9/11.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I concur with this.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      The ’80’s ended when the USSR dissolved into the CIS and the head of the former Soviet military told Colin Powell “You’re going to have to find a new enemy.”

      The ’90’s ended when we found one, as you sadly note.

      It’s not clear to me that the 00’s have ended yet.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I’ve been told by many people who were there that the 60s ended in 1972.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Nixon’s reelection and Watergate. This makes sense to me.

        I have a Big Book of New Yorker cartoons and there is a noted one from the early or mid-70s with a woman in a fashionable yet conservative clothing boutique asking a salesperson for help because the customer “Wants to look like a normal person again.”Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I once encountered a good argument that the 1960s lasted all the way to the end of the 1979s and really only ended with Reagan’s election. The basic argument was that the 1970s was a somewhat of a mauve, in-between decade and a lot of the counter-cultural ethos was going strong pretty late in the decade.

        I’m not really so sure of this. I’d argue that the 1960s ended with the raise of disco to form another pop culture. The counter-culture ethos disapeared and something more nakedly materialstic came up to replace it.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I agree, also. I’ve always thought they social decades should fall on the 5 years; the fifties were 1955 to 1965, the sixties, ’65 to 75, etc. It works perfectly right up to disco, and then it all goes to hell, though it did provide the movie Diva, one of my favorite films; right up there with Repo Man and Stranger than Paradise.Report