Wednesday, February 09, 2011

While We Work (2)

An extra note here, to help clarify things.  (When I'm as obscure & perhaps obtuse as in my previous entry, it's mainly because this is where I first sketch out some of my ideas.  I've not refined them for myself, let alone for you, hence the rambling sentences and unclear thought.)  This evening I got home and ate a snack, and Rudy was on TV.  I watched the last ~20 minutes.  This too is a film that basks in working class comforts, nostalgia for old days - home and factory job and nice town.  (Riding the bench for Notre Dame can be a boyhood dream.)  And it struck me then, a rephrasing of the phenomenon that I was trying to hint at before: this particular brand of working class nostalgia, which is not new, is possibly shifting its tenor, in new films or new viewings of old films, from being nostalgic to being faintly utopian.  (Even if the films themselves are not politically or thematically utopian.)  This is to say, we see reflected along the edges of filmic fiction the conditions of precarity which make this fantasy of an older working class life & culture (complete with its various other baggage, like nostalgia for whiteness in some cases) appear not simply as a lost origin, but as a sociopolitical arrangement which now looks pretty damn fine ... and unattainable.  This is a way of experiencing, in the background, the demise of even the imperfections of a welfare state as now beyond our grasp.  Maybe.

2 comments:

Jon Hastings said...

Real question: is it as utopian in France? Or, say, in Germany where they've done a much better job of not outsourcing traditional, higher paying working class jobs (i.e. manufacturing) and where the unions haven't been quite as beaten down? To what extent is it our American perspective that makes it seem so?

Zach Campbell said...

I don't know precisely how utopian it is in certain other countries, though my impression is that it's certainly becoming more utopian.