I awoke in the night with a song stuck in my head and a post ready for the writing. Then reality intruded. Let me explain….
The song was “It’s a grand night for singing,” from State Fair, a very popular 1945 musical with songs from Rogers and Hammerstein. Aside from the fact that I find the song charming (as I do most songs in old musicals), I’ve also liked the idea that all the people attending a busy state fair simultaneously burst into song to express their happiness:
I was going to go on about the fact that movies aren’t mirrors of a society as actually is, but that they often reflect a what a society wishes it was. In the old days, people who wouldn’t be caught dead singing in public nevertheless liked the idea that people would express joy quite publicly through song.
The next stop in my planned post would have been to point out that today’s movies, to the extent they mirror a society’s collective self-image or desires, reveal how far our societal goals — what we want to be, not necessarily what we are — have fallen. Movies today are frantic, cynical, crude, hyper-sexual, etc. I was going to wrap up with a rousing “Is this what we have become? Is this all that we, as a society, dream of for ourselves?”
All of which is true. But I suddenly realized that I was wrong about one very fundamental thing: We have finally achieved the Hollywood vision of 1945.
You see, thanks to the flash mob phenomenon, just as Hollywood once imagined in movies, people all over the world are expressing joy in public by bursting into song. What Americans dreamed of in 1945, the whole world is doing in 2013. That’s a hopeful sign, isn’t it? In at least one innocent, joyful way, we are becoming the best side of ourselves, as we envisioned ourselves long ago.