Apropos of Not Much: Word Usage

Stream-of-consciousness film/words nattering ahead…

Back in the Blacula post, I noticed I’d referred to the movie as a “cultural artifact.” This seems to be my go-to term for movies made in the ’60s–’80s that have very specific period-appropriate styles: If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium, Blacula, and Valley Girl are all cultural artifacts, for example, in their language and costume and general look.

Oddly, I don’t often find myself describing movies from before 1960 as “cultural artifacts,” even though the world I live in more closely resembles Dracula AD 1970 than The Third Man or His Girl Friday. In some cases, I suspect this is genre-related: a noir is a noir is a noir, and usually the only thing that changes is the level of gore/sex shown, the weapons used, and the quality of telephony.

So there’s a gap of thirty to forty years between what I think of as “period clothing” (flappers and earlier) and “cultural artifact” clothing (chest medallions, polyester miniskirts), even though there’s a big difference between Hildy Johnson’s suits in His Girl Friday and Donna Reed’s dresses on her titular show, to pick two examples out of the gap. Perhaps it’s because some of the ’60s-plus paraphernalia was in common use during my lifetime?

At any rate, the tl;dr here: I am far too young to think of Leave it To Beaver as some sort of aesthetic baseline, yet some part of me clearly does. Weird.

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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