The Murmuring 2000s
Downton Abbey- the BBC’s historic costume drama and aesthetic masterpiece- is returning to television screens for a fourth season.
The Daily Mail, whose British readers will have the opportunity to view the new season before we Yankees do (U.S. premier is January 5, 2014), has reported on concerns that Downton has passed its prime. As far as its new plot and character development goes, how should I know? But I speculate that the new era into which Downton will plunge- that of the Roaring Twenties- will do nothing less than inspire.
This year’s Great Gatsby movie I actually enjoyed (a little guiltily), mostly just because of the dazzling costumes, vivid sets, and Leo, Leo, Leo. (Except when he said “ole spore.” Cringe.) Plus the writers used a lot of verbatim excerpts from the novel, which was a delight, because no one writes like Fitzgerald. He manages to make one actually nostalgic for the present moment.
Where was I? Oh yes, Downton and the 20s. The 1920s were the best, especially in America, as far as anyone from the modern era can tell. The following highlights (briefly) what of that era was superior and the spirit we should imitate now:
The politics: Calvin Coolidge, obviously, and three consecutive Republican administrations who embraced supply-side economics and low taxes.
The economy: The 20s roared because prosperity was widespread. This was due to leaders like Presidents Coolidge and Harding who knew when to let (the market) well enough alone. Labor unions declined. The technology industry boomed. The introduction of cars, electricity, movies, and telephones made the 20s an exciting and profitable time to be alive. And to thrive! We make new innovations in technology and industry every day…but why aren’t we roaring?
The fashion: Women’s attires, eh, not so much. I like the fringe and the beads and the fun and feathered headbands, but on what type of figure, other than that of a twelve-year-old boy, does a shapeless bag dress look good? Same goes for the pixie cut. As far as men’s wear goes, though, timeless! People actually got dressed back then. Even the working class wore suits to work. Suits were well-thought-out, tailored, and tasteful. Men knew how to groom themselves, and cigarette holders just make good sense.
The literature: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Eliot, Cather…and those are just some of the American authors.
The people: They experienced Prohibition and lived to tell about it. Enough said.
Teresa Mull is the managing editor of Human Events.