April 3, 2012

Midnight in Paris, Anytime Right Here

Yesterday's post mention of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris got me thinking about the disappearance of artistic nostalgia. Although I loved the film, it's true that the central character seemed anachronistic: a relatively young man in the present day who yearns for the salad days of Hemingway and Gertrude Stein in the 1920s. But no one today yearns for 1920s Paris or any other literary epoch. Why is that?

As a teenager in the 1970s, I and my friends did nothing but yearn for another era, which is exactly why we're called Generation Jones. We sat around pissed that we had missed the 1960s: Woodstock, protests, the good music. We went out in our polyester shirts and Camaros and knew that we were a weak ripple of the great 60s tsunami.

It wasn't until the early 1990s that it really changed. Nirvana wiped the hair bands off the map, American indie film took off, and Gen Xers started moving to Prague to capitalize on the cheap living in the newly freed communist bloc countries. We went to basement art clubs in the city and midnight collective readings of Frankenstein.

But even that was nothing compared to what emerged with the Internet: a full-blown culture of citizen-artists that persists today. Everyone knows that we are in a golden age, and the best stuff isn't coming from a few professionals but from the mass collective that we are: the bloggers, the tweeters, the Hey Girl posters, the Twilight parodies filmed in your backyard, the 6-year-old singer posting from Japan, the lol cats, the grade A snark in the comments section, the Downton Abbey peeps, the parlance of gamers, the fan fic, the Cons . . . the creativity and talent that pours out of the world from every corner, every day. It's amazing.

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