There and Back Again (and Again)

Everything old is new again. At least that’s what they say, and rightly so. One man’s junk (or dirt or rubbish) is another man’s treasure. According to David Crow, “dirt” is whatever society rejects in its societal classifications, it emcompasses the elements considered “out of place.” There cannot be a system without dirt. After all, if everything is accepted, then there are no rules and, therefore, order. There is only disorder – non-system – which one could argue is a system and order in itself.

These “classifications” exist across regional, cultural, communal and professional planes. I am going to show some examples of “rubbish” (economic and social value decreases over time) from an American, pop-culture standpoint. First, please observe a rubbish-recyclable forty years in the making. I give you Charlie’s Angels.

The original television crime drama aired in 1976 and ran for five full seasons, not uncommon. The middle “angel”, Miss Farrah Fawcett was the breakout star of the series and has cemented her place in pop culture history. In 1981, the Angels (with an entirely different set of angels) officially became the rubbish of the seventies. The show became less relevant as time went on, until twenty-four years later, when this gem of a movie appeared.

The film-version of Charlie’s Angels. These girls also benefitted from the Angels fame machine, with Cameron Diaz becoming the breakout star. (This has, no doubt, everything to do with Diaz’s placement in the middle of all shots and pictures associated with the film, much as Fawcett was.) This film was so successful that they made a sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2003. The sequel was so much more successful that ABC turned it into a television series that premiered less than one week ago.

Hello, [new] angels. I wonder if this series will be allowed to become rubbish before being brought back into the limelight and asserted value again. Please notice, there are always at least two Caucasian angels (one blonde and one brunette), but in the revamps of this century, the producers have brought in new ethnicities: Asian and African American. It seems one way to turn rubbish into cultural relevance is to become more politically correct?

Moving on to classic literature. Just how many times can you turn a novel into a film? No, I’m not referring to Wuthering Heights or any Jane Austen novel. I am referring to the party novel of its time, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The first film was released in 1974, forty-nine years after Gatsby’s original publication. After a few years, English teachers grew tired of showing the same old seventies movie to their classes each year and the original film became rubbish. Who would provide a solution to this dull dilemma? The new millennium!

This made-for-TV film circa 2000, was really made-for-English-teachers. This can only be considered a remake in the barest terms. The producers weren’t trying to reboot the popularity of Fitzgerald’s classic, just update it a bit. The newest version of The Great Gatsby to be glamourized is still in production with an all-star cast, huge budget, and highly inventive director, Baz Luhrman. The poster is not yet available and neither is a release date (sometime in 2012), but thanks to the craziness that is Hollywood, some photos have been leaked.

Only time will tell the results of this film, but it seems a safe bet this is a true recreation of the 1974 film, though you can never be sure with Luhrman.

With the popularity surrounding this newest addition to the Gatsby clan, fashion showed its recreation of the Jazz Age as well. At the latest New York Fashion Week, Ralph Lauren unveiled his spring collection, which was clearly Gatsby-themed.

While most runways were debuting bold colors and ladylike silhouettes inspired by the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge, good old Ralph was taking his cues from Hollywood.

On the subject of fashion, this behavior of copying Hollywood is typical. The films or celebrities inspire the designers, who send their inspirations down the runway, which, in turn, end up on the celebrities who inspire and are inspired by them. It’s quite a lovely, fashionable cycle.

With this I turn to style icon Audrey Hepburn. Any photo of her directly represents her rise to fame and the longlasting affect she has had on American culture, film and fashion. While I highly doubt anyone would refer to Hepburn as “rubbish” (or Fitzgerald for that matter, Charlie’s Angels…), it is true her economic and social value is steadily declining. Every now and then, however, corporations will use her as a bargaining chip with their consumers. I present you the Gap commercial of 2006.

Here is the video:

Here is a display window of Gap during the advertisement’s run.

There you have it. Everything old is new again. What’s in one day is out the next and back next week. Where has originality gone? That’s simple: into the recreation.

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