Old is the New Black

celineIn today’s T, the NY Times’ style magazine, as I zipped through the opening ads (about 20 full-page ads before even the index), I stopped at the Céline advertisement with an old woman.  Figured she must be famous, so I googled her.  Sure enough, she’s the American author Joan Didion.  I’ve read a few short articles by her, but felt guilty that I haven’t read any of her books, so I just reserved The Year of Magical Thinking from the library.  It’s a memoir she wrote it just after her husband died of a heart attack, after they had returned from the hospital where their only child was lying in a coma.

dolce&gabbanaFurther on in T, Dolce & Gabbana showed old women in its ad.

Picture it: Sicily. Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2015 campaign… [T]he ad features elderly Italian women posing in the collection’s black lace jackets, paired with ornate jeweled mini-bags and tiaras.1

old is the new blackSomething was going on, so I checked out Joan Didion and Céline2 and followed a link to a blog, Advanced Style, from February 12 of this year, and discovered that Old Is The New Black!

Aging never goes out of style, but the fashion world is definitely having a senior moment. This season’s It Girls are all over the age of 60! We are thrilled to see so may brilliant, powerful, and gorgeous older women in campaigns and on the runway. 3

Film Censorship

This from my Scandalous Females in Film class.

Today we have a rating system for movies  (G, PG PG-13, R, NC-17 – which replaced X in 1990), but back in 1934 there was the Hays Code.  You may get a kick out of reading the whole code.  It could never fly today.  This is just the preamble (my highlighting):

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code)

If motion pictures present stories that will affect lives for the better, they can become the most powerful force for the improvement of mankind…

Motion picture producers recognize the high trust and confidence which have been placed in them by the people of the world and which have made motion pictures a universal form of entertainment.

They recognize their responsibility to the public because of this trust and because entertainment and art are important influences in the life of a nation.

Hence, though regarding motion pictures primarily as entertainment without any explicit purpose of teaching or propaganda, they know that the motion picture within its own field of entertainment may be directly responsible for spiritual or moral progress, for higher types of social life, and for much correct thinking.

During the rapid transition from silent to talking pictures they have realized the necessity and the opportunity of subscribing to a Code to govern the production of talking pictures and of re-acknowledging this responsibility. On their part, they ask from the public and from public leaders a sympathetic understanding of their purposes and problems and a spirit of cooperation that will allow them the freedom and opportunity necessary to bring the motion picture to a still higher level of wholesome entertainment for all the people.3

10030265_1Our professor said that the Hays Code was a response to Jean Harlow.  I just watched her in The Red-Headed Woman.  This from Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

During the course of the film, Harlow breaks up a marriage, has multiple affairs and pre-marital sex, and attempts to kill a man…

The film proved difficult from its inception. Producer Irving Thalberg was concerned that the original story [novel by Katherine Brush] and the first draft of a script by F. Scott Fitzgerald were too serious, and offered the job of rewriting it to Anita Loos, instructing her to provide something that was more fun and playful and with a greater emphasis on comedy.

Prior to its release he worked with the Will Hays Office to ensure it would receive approval for general release. Under the Production Code, a criminal could not be seen to profit from the crime, or to go unpunished, and sin must be punished. Adding further to the problem was Harlow’s overtly sexual portrayal, with several scenes in which she was partially undressed, or making obvious sexual advances.

Although the Hays Office could not ban a film as such, a refusal to issue approval for a particular film could lead exhibitors to refuse to screen it. Thalberg agreed to seventeen cuts to enable it to screen in the United States; however upon release, it …was banned in the United Kingdom…

mae westOur assigned readings for next Monday included The Code, details about The Red-Headed Woman, and two essays on Mae West (shown here in her youth).

I also checked out names of “talkies” between 1929 and 1934 – Merrily We Go to Hell, New Morals for Old, Night After Night, Night Nurse, Of Human Bondage, Party Girl, and many more5.  My, but films were risqué back then.

1http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/12/dolce-gabbana-ads-feature-awesome-old-ladies.html
2http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2015/jan/07/joan-didion-and-celine-why-old-age-is-having-a-fashion-moment
3http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/
4http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html
5http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/precode.html

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2 Responses to “Old is the New Black”

  1. tothemaxime Says:

    stunning grannies

  2. marysasse Says:

    Wow! I am excited to see that “old” is the “new black”! Given my own age, I never thought it would be! Thanks for the tip!

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