The day after thoroughly enjoying the 84th Academy Award presentations, I was reflecting on the winners and was struck, as well as heartened, by a realization. Perhaps I’m “reaching,” but I sensed a correlation between the selection of the nostalgia-filled big winners, The Artist and Hugo, and a societal yearning to live or return to a simpler, slower, quieter life. These two films each received by far the most nominations and Oscars, including The Artist winning “best picture.” Ironically, my son Michael’s senior cinematography thesis film, Twombley, was very similar to The Artist in several key respects, even though it was written months before the release of that Hollywood hit film. Each of these three movies, portraying entertainment in the second quarter of the 20th century, reflect a struggle with transition into the future. The Artist was a silent movie until a few words were uttered at the very end.
Our culture has become so fast-paced, raucous and complex in numerous ways. For example, the average full-time worker in the U.S. logs more hours, often doing two or three jobs, than do workers anywhere else in the world. Add to that the demands and frenzy of parenting and attempting to lead some semblance of a balanced life. Success as an entrepreneur requires more marketing than ever before.
Relationships too often get reduced to social media contact and text messaging. Our nation has developed an insatiable appetite for technological advances such as smartphones, apps, and intense video games. Sporting events and concerts have increasingly evolved (or devolved) into extravaganzas, replete with flashing lights, dancing girls, prizes falling from the sky or shot at the audience, etc. Is it any wonder that ADD, ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders, and substance abuse have become so prevalent?
Although I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I have often witnessed that my age group and older are far from alone in seeking an inner calm, a pared-back lifestyle, and simple, wholesome activities. I’ve observed and celebrated the growing numbers of folks who are flocking to yoga classes, meditating, enjoying quiet evenings at home, and even playing board games (which I’ve unashamedly always enjoyed). Nature adventures and spirituality (beyond institutional religion) are also gaining popularity.
Amidst our information and technological age/obsession, I dare assert that the pendulum is notably starting to swing back to a saner, more sanguine era. My reaction to that reversion, if you haven’t guessed it already, is, “Hallelujah!”