Opinion

Nostalgia on demand

Friday, December 9, 2022

I have rediscovered YouTube, and Iím finding that I am able to use it in ways I had not previously imagined. Believe it or not, the online video streaming service known for home blooper reels, cat videos, and Mr. Bill can also be a rich source of information. As with its parent company Google, I can use it for researching just about anything that my scattered mind can conceive.

The videos range from classroom movies to documentaries and even include the occasional fictionalized feature-length motion picture. Youtube offers information about the history, science, politics, economics, etc. and videos can get surprisingly granular in focus. Challenge it sometime. Pick something specific: James K. Polk, the Boer War, East Timor, Space Weather, Quantum Computing, Credit Default Swaps, or any other odd topic that piques your curiosity. You name it, itís probably in there and the selection is impressive.

A number of major news organizations now post on YouTube daily, so if I need a fast read-in on a specific news item or a favorite commentator, I can go straight to the desired subject matter without having to sit through an entire newscast. I can also view coverage back-to-back from different news organizations with different points of view. Thatís probably not a big deal to most normal folks, but for a political news junky, itís pretty good stuff. Whatís more, I can quickly view what people I donít like are saying, and that can be educational as well.

Of course, I also use it for entertainment as most folks do; even more so now that I can stream it on an entertainment-sized screen. Music videos usually donít hold my attention for very long, but I can now dig for the good ones and even some that arenít so good. I was a big fan of Nick Lowe when I was a kid, and he recorded great music, but in the days when music videos were first emerging and producers werenít quite sure what to do with the medium, Nick Lowe was the worst. Itís great music, but the videos produced in his name define the term ďcampy,Ē and are actually amusing to watch.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered old television commercials and started searching for John Cameron Swayze, Fred and Barney smoking Winstonís, the lonely Maytag repairman, Ronald Reagan pitching Boraxo, and a favorite of mine this time of year, Santa sledding on a Norelco Razor. Did you know that Groucho Marx was a spokesman for DeSoto automobiles?

Those are fun, but my favorite commercial star is Mrs. Olson. Imagine how many marriages she saved. The ďMrs. OlsonĒ series of commercials spanned from the 1960s into the early 1980s, but in spite of the rapid progression of womenís rights during that period, the script always depicted a somewhat less contemporary view of women. They usually worked like this:

ó Hot, young, bouffanted wife canít make a decent cup of coffee to save her life.

ó Handsome young husband drinks coffee and protests rudely.

ó Hot young wife seeks the council of mature, aproned, hair-in-bun Mrs. Olson.

ó Mrs. Olson tells hot young wife that even she canít screw up Folgerís because itís mountain grown.

ó Hot young wife doesnít know what the heck a mountain has to do with it, but tries Folgers anyway.

ó Husband drinks coffee, approves, calls off the divorce, and by his blessing, validates Hot young wifeís self-worth as a homemaker.

Thatís pure American history in all its glory, but the well is deeper than that. Many of the old television shows we used to watch are available now on YouTube and other streaming services. Lately, Iíve been watching entire episodes of Perry Mason. Itís a well-written courtroom drama, but with nattily dressed characters and much cooler cars. Whatís not to like?

Iíve also managed to find several older, pre-television military training films and some of the cold war ďduck and coverĒ footage. Speeches by Churchill, Goldwater, Einstein and Kennedy are readily available, but silent footage of William McKinley, and Mark Twain is viewable too.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how we choose to use the dearth of information available to us through internet technology. Unlike the old three-network days, our video options are limited only by our imaginations. Whether Kinescope, Newsreel or simply the latest advice from ďMadgeĒ (Youíre soaking in it.), the video library available to us now has undeniable educational value, but it also provides us with an opportunity to look back into our youth, that of our parents and grandparents.

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  • How about a carton of stogies as a parting gift from Gary Moore? (not the, Still Got the Blues Gary Moore)

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Fri, Dec 9, 2022, at 6:55 AM
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