Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Bright Young People.

We think we are so fresh. There is an innate tendency in every generation to look back at the past as twee, sweet, and even trite. To the uninitiated, photos of the recent past look ridiculous, out of date, past due, and expired. It lends a sort of staleness and "isn't that cute" hindsight to days gone. But, the more I learn about history, the more I realize it's all been done before, all of it. Perhaps now we can do it faster, or wirelessly but trust me, it's been done before. My case-in-point du jour? The group of Bright Young People who used the city of London as their plaything in the 1920s. Set eyes on the eye-lined, gold-dusted, haute cheeked group leader Stephen Tennant, and tell me he's not David Bowie's progenitor, who therefore has spawned Gaga and a whole stable of today's Pop Provocateurs.

Tennant's compatriots were the young rebels who took the Victorian and Edwardian eras in their paws and batted em around until they were shaken free of any vestiges of war or stuffiness, and glittered instead. The crew, including Cecil Beaton and Evelyn Waugh, and Nancy Mitford, drank their asses off and danced til fancy party locations vibrated in rhythm to their cocaine-induced heart spasms. They were a circle of tastemakers, drug-takers, and publicity hunters. Their fancy dress parties became legendary happenings that gave everyone license to morph their age, gender, appearance--any particular of their identity.

The BBC documentary below proves that the fame-seeking tabloid scene is nothing new, neither is drug-taking, gender ambiguity, or eccentric glittery style. It's all been done before, I'm afraid, but don't let that stop you. Every generation needs their bright young people, just remember no matter how bright you are, you'll have to try real hard to be original.

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