I’ve been watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents over these last few days. What an eye opener. All these new-fangled game techniques and social insights are old hat. I’ve been impressed by classic movies before, but was surprised at the consistency of quality Hitchcock manages to get, using different writers and actors over so many episodes. The level of sophistication in understanding the human condition is superb.
Hitchcock made a point of having a macabre humor, and the series is laced with the bitter sweet ugliness of the human condition. Cheating husbands and wives, greed and murder. With occasional love and redemption. The series holds up perfectly well in this modern world.
I suppose one must develop a macabre sense of humor if one is to be clear eyed.
The 30 minute episodes change actors, writers, and directors, and yet each are infused with a grandfathers depth of wisdom. He doesn’t pander to pretty social expectations, and instead expects a lot from his audience. I have to conclude that people were more socially savy back in the day. Stuff it takes top notch manosphere bloggers to come up with as original insights used to simply be common knowledge that everyone took for granted.
It’s a useful education to get some context to our age. The more that changes, the more that stays the same.
Hitchcock makes young social conservatives come across as hopelessly naive. Cluelessly and stridently pining for a world that never was. Having endless fainting spells over the human condition. Acting as if the world has changed, or as if some new insight has been articulated.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on divorce stats, or be alarmed at graphs that chart single motherhood. But step back to get some context, and you’ll see that “society” changes very little, because human nature is barely influenced by culture or setting. Opportunities change, and people follow changing opportunities, but people are as predictable now as they ever were.
People talk about infidelity as if it’s some new trend.
People talk about “the sexual revolution”, as if there were only one. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of them. The roaring twenties. Bohemian Paris. Medieval peasant ritual orgies. Roman orgies.
We have the same major themes now as we ever did. Falling in and out of love and lust. The desire for fidelity from mates while at the same time having the desire to not always be faithful. Greed at the expense of others. There was no golden age or location where these were not foundational motives for action. The idea of a “society” is such a silly and naive construct, that good literature and movies pierce. Over and over movies tear apart the illusion that we have a society. And yet people continue to fiercely cling to the belief and fiercely advocate that others follow their morals.
Society is only the behaviour that we wish other people would adopt. Nothing more. Individuals act selfishly. Because of this, old movies will always show our current world.