Oh, For the Good Old Days…

Written by Jill Chapin. Posted in Culture

Published on July 10, 2011 with No Comments

By Jill Chapin

July 10, 2011

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, recognizes our warm and fuzzy – but not so accurate –  recollections of bygone yesterdays.  It seems to be part of the human condition to conveniently edit out the unpleasant, the mundane, or the hurtful that we’ve experienced in our pasts.  Our photo-shopped, gauzy, selective memories keep our utopian retrospective alive.

What better way to escape today’s realities than by slipping back to a supposedly better time.  Which is what Woody Allen’s alter ego did when he got a magical opportunity to do just that.  But to his great chagrin, he discovered that those people in his romanticized times also longed for the good old days.

So maybe our political landscape isn’t now more deplorable and more devoid of all common sense and civility as we believe it to be.  But if you listened to Carson, or currently tune in to Leno, Maher or Stewart, you would think that we have devolved to an unprecedented state of lies, ineptitude and general unstatesman-like behavior.

All of the above comedians undoubtedly learned their craft of giving verbal thrashings to and roasting those in today’s news from the master of political satire, Will Rogers.  To read his words of nearly a century ago, they send the same message of frustration and futility as do his protegees’ musings, yet all have mastered the art of delivering seriously distasteful realities with more than a dollop of wit and good humor to lessen the nasty taste of it all.

Consider the following quotes from Will Rogers and see for yourself that these current 21st century sentiments were actually spoken to a jaded public in the early 20th century:

–  Everything is changing.  People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.

– I don’t make jokes.  I just watch the government and report the facts.

– There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.

– I am not a member of any organized political party.  I am a Democrat.

– An economist’s guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s.

– Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

– A fool and his money are soon elected.

– About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.

– Our constitution protects aliens, drunks, and U.S. Senators.

– I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him “father.”

– If I studied all my life, I couldn’t think up half the number of funny things passed in one session of Congress.

– We don’t seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?

– All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.

Feel better?  Those from the good old days were not as smitten with their place in history as we would like to believe they were.   If you’re an optimist, you probably feel we’re not much worse off than before. But if you’re more of a pessimist, then it’s apparent we haven’t evolved much from our past.

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin has been a guest writer and columnist in several Los Angeles area papers for over fifteen years. She has written a bilingual parenting book titled, "If You Have Kids, Then Be a Parent!" and a children's book entitled, "My Magic Bubble."

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