Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Best Thing About This Planet

One of the most noticeable things about Mad Men, set in the early 60s, is how much everyone smokes. Anyone who watches TV from this era knows they got it right.

For instance, I just saw "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?," a pretty good 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. It's set in a diner, where one of the patrons is an alien, but no one knows who. But boy do they smoke. What else are you gonna do in a diner?

At the end, the Martian is revealed, the first of a group of colonizers. And what does this alien like most about Earth? Tobacco! Can't wait till the others get down here so they can learn about how wonderful smoking is.


Blogger QueensGuy said...

There's a series of alternate-history/sci-fi books by Harry Harrison where aliens invade earth during WWII. Turns out they find ginger to be intensely addictive in a cocaine sort of way. I wonder if he saw this episode....

4:46 AM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Thats Harry Turtledove. Harry Harrison has the Civil War South and North, in response to to an English invasion, forget their differences and team up to defeat an England run by a Queen Victoria portrayed as a blithering idiot controlled by evil pernicious ducal cousins. (I think Robert E Lee and William Sherman jointly invade Ireland and make it a new state)

5:19 AM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

Right! I always mix them up, although I far prefer Harrison. Now which one wrote the one where Robert E. Lee gets AK-47s provided by future Afrikaaners?

5:57 AM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Thats Turtledove again who has interesting ideas but somewhat dull repetitious prose. I've only read read the unashamedly Anglophobic Harrison described above.

To get back to LA Guy's point, I love episodes like the one described where it just shows how much overarching established attitudes can up and change over time. This sort of gets back to yesterday's discussion as to evolving moral standards. What common everyday practice prevalently shown in film and TV will seem jarring or ridiculous in 50 years (maybe the idea of film and TV as currently constituted)

9:32 AM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

My guess would be factory animal farming. That's going to be looked back on as unspeakably barbaric.

11:47 AM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Part of my point yesterday is you can't easily predict where the future will go when it comes to human attitudes. In fact, you'll almost certainly be wrong. So the claim "you may not agree with me now, but people will in the future" is more arrogance than argument.

Another point is I question the assumption that change represents progress.

(I seem to recall Robin Williams had this bit about him looking back as an old man, and he talks about how the treatment of dogs changed so much after they gave them the vote.)

12:05 PM, August 07, 2008  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

I largely agree, but sometimes you can start to see which way the wind's blowing pretty early. "Free range" chicken was a hysterically funny idea to me when my girlfriend brought some home from Whole Foods' (one and only) store in Greenwich Village back in 1990. I sang "Born Free" while she cooked it.

3:29 AM, August 08, 2008  
Blogger LAGuy said...

If you really had foresight you would have bought Whole Foods stock.

9:08 AM, August 08, 2008  
Blogger New England Guy said...

And bought yourself into an e.coli lawsuit

1:14 PM, August 08, 2008  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

Agreed re the stock. Here's a related discussion about foresight.

11:43 AM, August 09, 2008  

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