So, this past 4th of July Holiday, I was watching old Parliament Funkadelic videos, as you do. I would have watched Independence Day, the contemporary classic by American Patriot and auteur, Roland Emmerich (yes, I realize he is actually German), but jive Netflix doesn’t have Independence Day on livestream.
Those old videos are interesting. It’s really amazing what people looked like back then. OK, so this was only 30-40 years ago, but it’s almost like it was when humans lived on another planet. Everyone is really skinny, smiley, sweaty. They have muscle and fat and bone. They have bumps and frizzy hair and energy. There’s a life and glow and sparkle.
These days, even in real life, everyone is so “perfect” looking, even in person. Air brushed, Spanx skinny, body sculpted, full facial, matte powder (or is it? Maybe dull skin), helmet hair held in place with a product. Need to lose weight? Just go to the doc and get yourself on the 800 calorie per day liquid diet and you’ll look great! Sunk cheeks, thin waist, arms, legs, neck. That dent in under the jaw bone, which means you’re really disciplined and never eat anything but steamed spinach and brown rice.
If you watch some of those old funk bands do their floor show with the coordinated instrument moves and the knee drops and jumping around, it doesn’t take too long to figure out those guys were in some kind of shape. Not just “gym body” fit, but really, work it fit. Even models in old photos just look like young girls, kid skinny.
Sometimes I feel like that character in the famous (infamous?) episode of the classic Twighlight Zone, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, about a future (actually it’s 2000) World where everyone undergoes plastic surgery in their teens to look like one of a predetermine set of options. Is it just a TV show?
I honestly think sometimes we’ve lost sight of what human beings are really supposed to look like and be like. At least some of our subcultures—I’m not putting the entire United States in this bag, although more than I would have ever thought possible fifteen years ago. Wigs and makeup and outfits and shoes—half our country gone Effie Trinket, and the other half standing back wondering what happened and what they are doing.
I think I think I’m fine. I think I think I’m pretty. I think I think I’m fine with my hair combed and loose or pulled back. I don’t need a half dozen products cementing it into some unnatural configuration. I don’t need a full facial to go to the grocery store. I don’t need a brand new outfit every week. And a body shaped by recreation and work and full meals is just fine for me.
The fifties to the seventies to the teens to the forties to the sixties. I wonder what we will look like then? Is there a lesson in time travel, a warning? Is past prologue? Is the trajectory linear? Do our peeks into the past reveal a cause or an outcome?
I guess the downside of time travel is that speed and distance are controllable in only one direction: backwards. To the future, whatever it may hold. The past may be fixed and inescapable, but the future is ours to determine.