Comedy, Fads, Hollywood, NSFW, Sexual History, Social Movements

Faded Celebrity Endorsement Fad of the Early 2000’s

Around 2005 there began to be seen a plethora of former celebrities aka Marie Osmond, Valerie Bertinelli, Suzanne Somers lending their endorsements to fat pills, exercise equipment, weight loss organizations.  It became such a marketing cliche that it was parodied in This Little Britain sketch
Fads, Fashion, Political Elections, Social Movements

Niche Groups In America Through Time: The Preppies

One of the niche groups in America Through Time at the start of the 1980s was the preppies. The 1970s was a decade of disco, social experimentation, outlandish fashion and a reverence of “newness”. However, at the start of the 1980s, there was a noticeable conservative backlash that permeated society, both politically and socially. Religious fundamentalism definitely became widespread and was helped along by the emergence of nationally known TV mega preachers. Many held the belief that society needed to get back to “groundedness”, for the lack of a better word.

The preppies, in addition to religious fundamentalists, were a group that seized on this kind of new wind sweeping the psyche of the nation. The preppies were not necessarily religious, but definitely politically conservative and the second pillar allied with religious fundamentalists in a Republican ascendancy that occurred during the decade. They very often were wealthy country club Republicans, but not always, as the preppie look was copied by many among the lower middle class as well as the upper middle class. In truth however It was really the ivy league elites and “Greenwich Connecticut” lifestyle that preppies idolized and put on a pedestal.

In popular culture this lifestyle was romanticized in television shows like The Paper Chase and movies like St. Elmo’s Fire. The ideal preppie was to drive a BMW or expensive European model automobile and to dress always in a conservative manner that heavily favored old school sports jackets and cotton button down dress shirts when formally attired and Izod sports shirts or wool sweaters when more casually dressed. They would often spend their summers out in The Hamptons of Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard or other similar posh and heavily WASP locations. They still exist to this day, but sort of had their heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s and sort of declined in popularity in tandem with the decline of Republican 1980s conservatism.

Fads, Hollywood

The Troubling Spectacle of 1930s Dance Marathons and the Dark Side of Human Nature: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

I remember going through the supermarket during the early part of the COVID Epidemic. Many of the aisles were totally bare. People were arguing over paper towels and bleach. Now COVID did claim many lives and Loved ones of many families. I do not mean to minimize it, but I thought to myself what would happen to society if an even more terrible tragedy of total warfare, plague or other similar natural disaster occurred. Perhaps that smiling friendly next door neighbor you once knew would now not hesitate to put a bullet in your head to take a piece of meat from you. It’s sad how the brutality of life can change us, steal our innocence and dignity and strip away all veneer of civilized behavior and remind us that nature sees us as just another animal. In the desperate times of the 1930s you had dance marathons pop up throughout the country offering a winning prize to the couple who were the last to remain awake and standing. These marathons could last days and weeks. The desperation of the times caused many to enter. Spectators would come to watch as the couples became more and more exhausted to the point where their sanity started to disappear into a state of lunacy. They were robbed of dignity and became like animals in a zoo, all due to the primal desire to maintain human survival. Here, I post a trailer of the movie “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”, which gives insight to this rather bizarre fad of that decade. Yes, I guess you can call this post of mine a bit of a Debbie Downer.
Fads, Fashion, Racial, Sexual History, Social Movements

Niches In America Through Time: The Gibson Girl, 1890s Tinder Favorite

One of the niche groups that emerged in America during the 1890s was the Gibson Girl. The caricature was an upper middle class or wealthier young white woman who was said to epitomize feminine beauty, grace, spirited and confident, but who delighted in her feminine nature and had no wish to challenge male patriarchy or associate with the suffragette movement. Indeed, the suffragettes were often derisively depicted as mannish domineering old maids and the antithesis of Gibson Girls.

She was often, in fact, seen to have power through her feminine beauty that surpassed any power a man might hold and could reduce even the most desirable alpha man to a drooling fool she wrapped around her finger. Unlike earlier feminine ideals, she was allowed to be athletic and active, which did not devalue her feminine appeal in any way. On the contrary, a Gibson Girl briskly cycling by was thought an enchanting sight. The ideal Gibson Girl was to be slender, but with ample busom and tush, though not vulgarly so. This figure was emphasized by a tight corset she wore around her waist. Her hair was one of her greatest attributes, and should be ample and piled on top of her head in graceful shapes and waves.

As mentioned previously, she was in no way expected to be a meek wallflower. Her playful witty banter with men was thought one of her attractive qualities. While her main focus was to be of her home and husband, she was at the same time seen as engaging frequently in promoting social causes and perhaps even attending college. It is a bit hard to determine whether the Gibson Girl existed originally or whether she was created based on a male fantasy of the ideal female. It may have been a bit of both.

Fads, Landscape and Urban Growth, Sporting

Post WW2 America and the Allure of California and Los Angeles

British strong man Eugene Sandow was considered the father of modern day bodybuilding. However the birth location was really post World War 2 Southern California. The nineteen fifties and early sixties saw a steady growth in popularity. However in the Vietnam era with the Hippie movement it became out of fashion and was associated with militarism or with a sort of homophobic view as something the gays did. The seventies was all about slimness for men. Swimmer Mark Spitz was considered the 1970s ideal for men. The dawn of the eighties brought it back with an explosion. Gyms sprang up all over the country and it became a pursuit for both gays and straight men and unlike in the fifties women took part in the pursuit this time as well.
California is given a bad rap today, but not for me. I love California. I grew up in NJ and dreamed to visit that state one day growing up as a kid. Once I finally did in 1994 I saw the Los Angeles basin from the airplane window. I was not disappointed. We easterners always made jokes about the odd strange Californians and the smoggy haze, but for many it was deflection. I love Mulholland Drive and the windy canyon roads. I love the quirky eerie feeling of the Salton Sea and the abandoned motels. I love the Mediterranean climate, The tragic Hollywood stories and the vistas from Griffith Park. Driving down The Pacific Coast Highway with the Chicago song Wishing You Were Here or America’s Ventura Highway is almost hard to describe. I see a redwood and I want to kiss it. I could go on and on. Many Americans in the fifties shared my love affair and it caused millions to move there chasing this dream of happiness, youth and beauty and warm summer days. Perhaps this dream is like vapor that you can’t really grab, but it still draws people there to this day.