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Once and awhile it is brought home to us how much things have changed in our lifetimes. Some changes are really radical and kind of mind boggling, especially in the areas of technology, and sometimes they are just little changes that make a big difference. Either way, in the end it isn't as much about the changes themselves as much as it is about how we deal with them as human beings.
Some of the changes in anyone's lifetime don't appear to be for the best, of course, which is a little disheartening. The fact that young people today are far more sedentary than they were in my time and consequently, more obese and less healthy is something that makes me sad. It isn't just the entertainment technology that is to blame for this, although that is certainly a huge part of it. It is also the state of the world in general. I grew up in an environment where my brothers and I could be out and about all over the place all day long and my mother never had to worry much about us. We didn't have cell phones or any way she could track us, but we were having fun outside and were perfectly safe. I'm not sure anyone nowadays feels they would be able to do that, not in most places, anyway. If I had raised my children back where I grew up I would never have felt comfortable letting my children walk out the door in the morning with only a vague idea of where they were going and when they would return. It just doesn't work that way anymore. There are just too many people now and too many of them are less than entirely stable.
But there are some changes in my lifetime that have been rather monumental that happened slowly enough that the impact is somewhat diluted because I lived through them, that are brought home to me through the reactions of my children. This happened recently while watching a bunch of old movies with my teenage son, Chuck.
It all started when we saw a trailer for the newest James Bond movie coming out in the fall. We got to talking about the many Bond movies and the original books and how long the whole business has been going on. The first Bond movies with Sean Connery came out when I was pretty young, but I have a very distinct memory of going with my family to see Goldfinger at the theater. I had friends who's parents were totally horrified at the idea that my parents would take us to see such a scandalous movie. Bond was, after all, a notorious womanizer who thought nothing of snuggling up to every woman who came his way and killing evil agents of Spectre whenever necessary. My parents, however, were progressive thinkers and fairly certain that seeing Bond hop into the sack with a few ladies and doing away with a few evil guys wasn't going to scar us for life. As far as I can tell, it didn't. When I got into Middle School I had a kid who sat next to me in class who was sent home in disgrace for bringing a paperback copy of Ian Fleming's Bond classic, From Russia with Love, to school. I never got that. I had read it and didn't think it was going to make my brains leak out of my eye sockets or anything. It seemed like a lot of fuss over nothing to me at the time but who knows? Maybe it was the beginning of the end or something.
Chuck and I decided to watch all the Bond movies from the beginning and then decide which movies were the best and who was the best Bond. Obviously, the crazy Bond mayhem back in the day was pretty tame compared to what they were increasingly able to do as the years went by. Watching the progress of special effects and technology is really pretty interesting. Chuck was able to identify immediately when they started to use CGI effects. It isn't the changes in technology, however, that caused him shock and surprise. It was the portrayal and treatment of women that horrified him.
Poor Chuck. He was appalled. He had no idea how it was. He was appalled by the objectification of women, that all the beautiful women were ultimately weak and sort of stupid, how all the smart women were ugly and strident, how all the tough women were hideous and masculine, and how the male characters treated all the female characters almost as if they were children. Seeing it through his eyes was interesting. Chuck likes his female characters smart, strong, able to take care of themselves, and funny. When I get angry at things in the news that seem to indicate a backlash against women and women's rights, Chuck has always thought that I was over reacting. After watching a bunch of movies from the early '60's he doesn't understand why all women aren't a lot angrier. Neither do I.
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