Welcome to the 60’s
Lately I’ve been watching American Dreams. There’s something magical about the 60’s in some ways. It was a simpler time. A time before computers or cell phones or the internet. A time when people walked to school and went to drive-ins on the weekend. When people listened to records and the radio and television was sometimes in black and white. Families had dinner together every night and you knew everyone who walked by you on your way to the grocery store.
There would be something lovely about all of those things.
Yet, it was not all happiness and doo-wop, was it?
If I’ve learned anything from the media’s portrayal of the 60’s, it was not the Stepford wife perfection they tried to pretend it was. The American culture was absolutely teeming with racism and sexism. With suppression and exclusion. With judgment and deception.
As shiny and fun as it looks from the outside [sometimes], I don’t think it would have been very fun to be in your 30’s and 40’s in the 60’s. I think if I were a woman in the 60’s, assuming in this imaginary universe I was straight and married with children, I would have been like Helen Pryor on American Dreams and always wondered what else there was. I would want to take literature classes at the local college and ignore my husband’s grumblings because we’re having TV dinners once a week. I would be friends with the local divorcée because her independence and nonchalant attitude would intrigue me. If I were a teenager in the 60’s, again assuming in this imaginary universe I was straight, I would have been a little like Meg Pryor, dancing on Bandstand because it’s the only thing I had ever dreamed of. Or maybe even like Tracy Turnblad and innocently making friends with the “Negroes” because I liked the way they dance and not understanding why people found this appalling.
But if I were me in the 60’s, I think I would have been miserable. I probably still would have tried to get on Bandstand, but I’d have wanted to dance with Meg Pryor, not Jimmy Riley. The only time I was able to finally realize I was gay and be okay with it – proud of it, even – was after I moved out of the small bubble I was raised in, after I met other people like me. If I was a teenager in the 60’s, I don’t think I would have ever come out. Unless I pulled an Emily Fields and managed to attract every single lesbian in a hundred foot radius and made them bend to my every whim.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that, I love movies and shows that are set in the 60’s.
I’m just glad I get to see them from the safer side of the screen.