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Old 06-07-2019, 02:16 PM
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Unexpected Different Attitudes In Older Works


One thing that's fun in reading older books or watching older movies is seeing little patterns of thought that are different from today. Not things like 'these medieval characters think like medieval people', but 'these spacemen from the future do things I'd consider really unusual and it's not part of being a spaceman' or 'this medieval person seems to have a distinct 60's mindset'. I'm specifically excluding things like racial and gender issues here, and I'm not thinking of the blatantly obvious, like 'they didn't have cellphones in this 1940s movie'.

One example from EE Doc Smith's Lensman books:
There's a scene where the main character Kim is in deep cover to infiltrate a criminal operation. He goes off on a day trip to have lunch and fish while making a drop for the criminals. As part of his day trip, he brings a packaged lunch in box, then when he's done eating collects the trash into the box and drops it into the late. While he will comment when he does things that are out of character to maintain cover, dropping trash into the nice lake you're fishing doesn't even warrant a mention, it's treated as the perfectly normal thing to do. I don't think you'd have a squeaky-clean hero today who casually pitches his lunch containers into a lake without a second thought, but back then it was just what you did with trash.
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Old 06-07-2019, 02:34 PM
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Many English-language writers of the fairly recent past felt much more strongly about the acceptability or otherwise of men wearing beards than we tend to feel nowadays.

We generally think, a guy gots a beard, a guy don't gots a beard, whatever, who cares. But not according to the juvenile-fiction author R. M. Ballantyne in 1863:
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Besides the alteration that two years sometimes makes in a man, Jasper had made a considerable alteration on himself. When Marie last saw him, he had been in the habit of practising the foolish and unnatural custom of shaving; and he had carried it to such an extreme that he shaved off everything—whiskers, beard, and moustache. But within a year he had been induced by a wise friend to change his opinion on this subject. That friend had suggested, that as Providence had caused hair to grow on his cheeks, lips, and chin, it was intended to be worn, and that he had no more right to shave his face than a Chinaman had to shave his head.
The humorist P. G. Wodehouse in the mid-20th century had an opposing viewpoint:
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A lot of us grew beards. Not me. What I felt was that there is surely enough sadness in life without going out of one’s way to increase it by sprouting a spade-shaped beard. I found it a melancholy experience to watch the loved features of some familiar friend becoming day by day less recognizable behind the undergrowth. A few fungus-fanciers looked about as repulsive as it is possible to look [...]
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:05 PM
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A few years ago I decided to watch the movie Car Wash, released circa 1976, just to see what it was like. I never expected it to be any sort of great masterpiece of course, but it was somewhat amusing, and it was actually a pretty good insight into the culture and attitudes of 40+ years ago. One scene that was unexpected for me was when a male customer goes to pay for his car wash, starts flirting with the young woman working the cash register, and asks her out on a date. Now every woman I know in my age group (I'm 39) who's worked in the service industry has told me they find it extremely annoying when men try to hit on them while they're at work and would definitely not agree to go on a date with a random customer. Maybe if the guy was a regular who she's gotten to know over time, but certainly not someone she's never met before. But in the movie, the cashier acted flattered and excitedly said yes to his request for a date. Later on in the movie she's excitedly telling her coworkers that she has a date tonight. I genuinely found that surprising.

Also somewhat surprising to me, it seemed like disco was portrayed in the movie as "black music". That is, all the young black characters listened to disco, while the white characters listened to rock and roll. I'd thought disco had more widespread appeal. Or did it achieve more widespread popularity later on? I'm obviously too young to remember the disco era.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:17 PM
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The music in Car Wash was Funk not Disco.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:47 PM
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In The Adventures of Captain Marvel, Frank Coghlan, Jr. plays Billy Batson. The actor was 25 years old, but the movie still describes the character as "a boy", and presents him as a teenager. In a couple of scenes, Batson shoots bad guys. In one scene, he mans a machine gun and mows them down in droves.

In one scene, Captain Marvel is fighting a group of gangsters on the roof of a skyscraper. Cap grabs one guy and casually throws him over the edge of the roof.

You could not do that in a kid's movie today.
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Old 06-07-2019, 09:30 PM
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I like reading old mystery stories in part because they've turned into historical novels, but written from the inside, so to speak. The author isn't explaining the time and place to a modern day reader -- you're just dumped in there, because that's when they were written.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:52 PM
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I have a 'mystery story' example that's rather like the OP - in a Dick Francis thriller that I have on my shelves, the hero is riding through a South African wildlife park, and someone starts to throw a plastic bag out of the window of the jeep. On being told bluntly not to do it, he then argues about it and asks for reasons ("because the animals would try to eat it", in this case)

The idea that a grown man, and responsible professional, would need to have it carefully explained to him why you don't throw out plastic bags in nature reserves is ... very pre-70's.

(The plastic bag, of course, having been emphasised, becomes a plot point later - our hero uses it to collect drinking water when he's locked into an overheating car in the middle of the desert)

I had a good example in a Georgette Heyer mystery recently too. Character is trying to persuade the policeman that the cheque from deceased guy that he has in his posession doesn't prove that he saw deceased guy on the day of the murder, because it was posted to him. Aha! says the policeman - but we haven't found a letter from you acknowledging receipt of the money, so that throws doubt on your story, doesn't it? Clearly expectations of timeliness and personal responsibility were high in the 1930's
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:56 PM
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In The Day the Earth Stood Still, some Army doctors remark on the health and longevity of their alien visitor, while casually lighting up some cigarettes.

https://youtu.be/bWnT7pWg6x0
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Also somewhat surprising to me, it seemed like disco was portrayed in the movie as "black music". That is, all the young black characters listened to disco, while the white characters listened to rock and roll. I'd thought disco had more widespread appeal. Or did it achieve more widespread popularity later on? I'm obviously too young to remember the disco era.
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The music in Car Wash was Funk not Disco.
It's 1979-1980 in a suburb of Detroit, junior HS( 7th and 8th grade ). My school is about 75-80% white, 20-25% black students and we have a little school paper. Black student writes short article attempting to educate the masses on cultural differences. In a local white tween/teen culture where "disco sucks" is a universal refrain( see the TV show Freaks and Geeks - almost identical time period and setting ), this young columnist notes how all her white friends would casually say "disco sucks" and then turn to her and say "no offense." She then points out that there is a real difference between soul & funk and disco. She kinda thinks disco sucks too .

So yeah - it was very real cultural backlash attitude and anything that wasn't good old standard rock like Foreigner or Bad Company kinda got lumped into the "disco" category by clueless white teens. At least in Michigan, in junior high at the end of the 1970's.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 06-08-2019 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:26 AM
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It's 1979-1980 in a suburb of Detroit, junior HS( 7th and 8th grade ). My school is about 75-80% white, 20-25% black students and we have a little school paper. Black student writes short article attempting to educate the masses on cultural differences. In a local white tween/teen culture where "disco sucks" is a universal refrain( see the TV show Freaks and Geeks - almost identical time period and setting ), this young columnist notes how all her white friends would casually say "disco sucks" and then turn to her and say "no offense." She then points out that there is a real difference between soul & funk and disco. She kinda thinks disco sucks too .

So yeah - it was very real cultural backlash attitude and anything that wasn't good old standard rock like Foreigner or Bad Company kinda got lumped into the "disco" category by clueless white teens. At least in Michigan, in junior high at the end of the 1970's.
Disco was soul music with the soul removed.

I'm around your age and from the whitest background possible. (So white, none of the TV markets I grew up in even had a station that aired "Soul Train".) Still, even then I knew there were distinct differences between disco and funk. I was also aware disco was different from Philly Soul even though they shared similarities like lush string sections and slick production values. In retrospections of that era, these points are often forgotten.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:51 AM
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To be fair; disco was a direct descendant of funk and soul.

It all started in the gay dance clubs in Manhattan (as all good things do, to hear my friend Reg tell it). The DJ's would isolate the bass lines of funk songs. Speed them up a little (120 bpm was found to be right, and "coincidentally" is the same rate as the heart during sexual arousal) and maybe lay some electronic keyboards or some hooks from other songs over it. And stretch out what was probably a 3 min funk line into a 10 - 20 min dance track. The reason disco eventually got such a bad rap was that the ubiquitous clubs of the late 70's and early 80's took that recipe and ran it into the ground. the clubs would play what seemed liked the same song all night long and so it seemed to lose the "soul" of the original source material. And, of course, record companies had to cash in with a seemingly endless supply of disco "hits" for radio airplay.

Lesson and hijack over.
mc

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Old 06-08-2019, 01:02 AM
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Have you ever read an unexpurgated, unbowdlerized version of Arabian Nights?

In English-speaking countries, we tend to have a romanticized view of the Bedouin, derived from Hollywood movies starring Rudolph Valentino or Peter O'Toole. The 1001 Nights stories were written by urban-dwelling Arabs. They viewed the Bedouin the way we view the rednecks in Deliverance. Uneducated, uncouth, and utterly untrustworthy.

Sexual mores are also peculiar. The medieval Muslims were not nearly as prudish as their modern descendants. Lots of things were forbidden, but there were lots of loopholes.

Premarital sex was forbidden. (But if, by the end of the story, you got her father's permission to marry her, all would be forgiven.)

Extramarital sex was forbidden. (But if, by the end of the story, her husband divorced her, died of natural causes, or was executed by the king, all would be forgiven.)

It was forbidden to have sex with another man's slave. (But, if he was a good friend, he would give her to you when he noticed your interest. [And, if you were a good friend, you would give her back when you were finished. ])

Attitudes toward homosexuality depended mostly on how good-looking the homosexuals were. If and old person, or an ugly person, or a person of low social status lusted after you, that was a calamity. If someone was young, good-looking, rich, and professed their love for you, nobody seemed to mind. The gay sex always took place offstage, but the hints about it were pretty broad.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:27 AM
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In one scene, Captain Marvel is fighting a group of gangsters on the roof of a skyscraper. Cap grabs one guy and casually throws him over the edge of the roof.

You could not do that in a kid's movie today.
Not quite the same thing but in the mid-90's live action Disney Jungle Book movie Mogwai kicks a character over a cliff and kills him, granted it was in self-defence but I was still surprised.

This thread reminded me of something I was struck by while reading an American book published in the 1930's where readers of a magazine wrote in about strange and unusual experiences which happened to them.

On more than one of the stories the writer casually stated that she was at home alone when a strange man knocked on the door, introduced himself as a friend or acquaintance of her husbands (who was away on a business trip) so she let him in to stay the night or until her husband returned.

This wasn't the strange and unusual part and was presented as perfectly natural behaviour and not in the slightest bit unusual. They really were more innocent times.

Last edited by Atomic Alex; 06-08-2019 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:35 AM
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The title character of the 1942 Henry Kuttner/C. L. Moore sf classic story "The Twonky" is a future machine whose purpose is to protect humans from all harm. It's first action is to light a character's cigarette.

Similarly, there must be a million stories in which the first reaction to someone being knocked out or otherwise injured is to give them a drink of restorative brandy, or a big glass of whisky when they're back on their feet. This is also true for non-drinkers, who always accept the drink gratefully and never throw up as a result.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:42 AM
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In one of James Fenimore Cooper's novels, the leader of a new town is eagerly hoping to find a coal seam somewhere nearby, because the wood the town is currently burning for fuel is a finite and limited resource, but a coal seam would last forever.

The same novel includes a passenger pigeon hunt, where the townsfolk are all shooting as many as they can just for the heck of it, but at least Natty Bumppo is portrayed as being opposed to that.
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Old 06-08-2019, 03:31 PM
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A vital clue in Ellery Queen's The Chinese Orange Mystery hinges on the fact that people would know something was very wrong if someone wore a suit jacket without a tie.

Edgar Wallace's The Angel of Terror hinges on the fact that no one can believe a beautiful woman could be evil. Wallace was deliberately twitting that convention, but the characters -- even when she is shown to be a psychopathic criminal -- are willing to believe she's really good because she looks so lovely.
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Old 06-08-2019, 05:04 PM
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...the first reaction to someone being knocked out or otherwise injured is to give them a drink of restorative brandy, or a big glass of whisky when they're back on their feet. This is also true for non-drinkers, who always accept the drink gratefully and never throw up as a result.
"Thanks... I... needed that."

Also said by the hysterical woman in a film noir, after being slapped or "had some sense shaken into her".
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Old 06-08-2019, 08:02 PM
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NM, wrong thread.

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Old 06-08-2019, 09:46 PM
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Similarly, there must be a million stories in which the first reaction to someone being knocked out or otherwise injured is to give them a drink of restorative brandy, or a big glass of whisky when they're back on their feet. This is also true for non-drinkers, who always accept the drink gratefully and never throw up as a result.
Yes, YES, so much this! Brandy was THE panacea in every Hollywood action film, especially Westerns, from ca. 1935-1960. Only rivaled by screams for hot water when there was an instant birth. I recently saw "Drums Along the Mohawk" with Henry Fonda from 1939, which had a twofer: a difficult birth takes place on a prairie farm, hot water has been asked for and provided, and the doctor (who against all odds was available) steps out of the birthing room, baby screaming in the background, and shouts for : "Brandy!" Fonda (the lucky father): "Brandy? For the baby?" Doctor: "No, for me!". So they kinda spoofed that meme early.
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Old 06-08-2019, 09:55 PM
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Yes, YES, so much this! Brandy was THE panacea in every Hollywood action film, especially Westerns, from ca. 1935-1960. Only rivaled by screams for hot water when there was an instant birth. I recently saw "Drums Along the Mohawk" with Henry Fonda from 1939, which had a twofer: a difficult birth takes place on a prairie farm, hot water has been asked for and provided, and the doctor (who against all odds was available) steps out of the birthing room, baby screaming in the background, and shouts for : "Brandy!" Fonda (the lucky father): "Brandy? For the baby?" Doctor: "No, for me!". So they kinda spoofed that meme early.
Too late to edit: I have to correct myself: The doctor's answer really was: "Nor, for the mother!"
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:13 PM
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Casual racism, too many examples to begin to list.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:20 PM
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“Save for the occasional use of cocaine he had no vices..." (Arthur Conan Doyle, The Yellow Face, referring to Sherlock Holmes)
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:35 PM
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I like reading old mystery stories in part because they've turned into historical novels, but written from the inside, so to speak. The author isn't explaining the time and place to a modern day reader -- you're just dumped in there, because that's when they were written.
In the mysteries of the Golden Age (1920's and 30s), almost everyone is smoking. Here's a line from Dorothy L Sayers: "Do sit down, and please smoke."
And of course there are those 1940s ads with doctors smoking Camels.
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Old 06-09-2019, 07:05 AM
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Casual racism, too many examples to begin to list.
Well, I'll provide one, because it's so eye-popping: the Agatha Christie novel which was actually entitled Ten Little N.

American publishers, possibly showing a little more sensitivity, generally used the title "And Then There Were None" (now universal, I think); apart from one which went for the anodyne (not!) Ten Little Indians. God help us.

Enough racism, on to fun pedophilia. Leslie Thomas (of Virgin Soldiers fame) was a writer of rather jolly and entertaining comic novels. I remember he was admired by Frank Muir, so there's a recommendation. The novel His Lordship tells the story of a physical education teacher, hired at a girls' boarding school. I can't remember much of the detail, but I do remember that he impregnates a sixteen year old and spies on naked girls under sixteen.

I remember thinking this was unsavoury at the time; but back in 1970 it was evidently acceptable for a mainstream publisher to release a jolly romp of this nature.

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Old 06-09-2019, 07:26 AM
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If we're getting into racism and sexism, we could be here all day. Which is presumably why the OP specifically excluded them.

But on pedophila, there's quite an uncomfortable streak of it running through 1970s science fiction.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:10 AM
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Not unique to 70's sci fi. In the aforementioned Arabian Nights, it is forbidden to molest a free Muslim boy. Slave boys, however, are often described using the same language that is used to describe an attractive woman. (Lots of rhapsodizing about their soft lips and round thighs.) The pederasty always takes place offstage, but the hints about it are pretty strong.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:13 AM
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WildaBeast writes:

> A few years ago I decided to watch the movie Car Wash, released circa 1976,
> just to see what it was like. I never expected it to be any sort of great masterpiece
> of course, but it was somewhat amusing, and it was actually a pretty good insight
> into the culture and attitudes of 40+ years ago. One scene that was unexpected for
> me was when a male customer goes to pay for his car wash, starts flirting with the
> young woman working the cash register, and asks her out on a date. Now every
> woman I know in my age group (I'm 39) who's worked in the service industry has
> told me they find it extremely annoying when men try to hit on them while they're
> at work and would definitely not agree to go on a date with a random customer.
> Maybe if the guy was a regular who she's gotten to know over time, but certainly
> not someone she's never met before. But in the movie, the cashier acted flattered
> and excitedly said yes to his request for a date. Later on in the movie she's
> excitedly telling her coworkers that she has a date tonight. I genuinely found that
> surprising.

I think you misunderstood the point of that scene (which is this one):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHAVcgjGDqM

The character (Melanie Mayron as Marsha) sometimes get hit on by her married boss. She doesn't meet anyone, customer or employee, at the car wash that she wants to date. They are too old, too poor, and not handsome enough for her taste. Then a guy (Tim Thomerson as Ken) comes in who meets her requirements. She doesn't date just any random customer. She accepts a date because this is a rare one who meets her requirements. As it turns out, when she meets up with him after finishing work, he didn't really want a date with her. He was just trying to match her up with a friend of his. The point is that a woman shouldn't accept a date with someone she's just met, regardless of how handsome, rich, or young he appears.
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Old 06-09-2019, 04:45 PM
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If we're getting into racism and sexism, we could be here all day. Which is presumably why the OP specifically excluded them.

But on pedophila, there's quite an uncomfortable streak of it running through 1970s science fiction.
Though about 95% of that was Piers Anthony.
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Old 06-09-2019, 05:01 PM
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Well, I'll provide one, because it's so eye-popping: the Agatha Christie novel which was actually entitled Ten Little N.

American publishers, possibly showing a little more sensitivity, generally used the title "And Then There Were None" (now universal, I think); apart from one which went for the anodyne (not!) Ten Little Indians. God help us.
The most recent version used "Ten Little Soldier Boys" for the rhyme giving the clues, though the title is setted on And Then There Were None
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Old 06-09-2019, 05:36 PM
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“Save for the occasional use of cocaine he had no vices..." (Arthur Conan Doyle, The Yellow Face, referring to Sherlock Holmes)
There was a scene in John Varley's novel Titan where two of the heroes were meeting a powerful alien and were asked if they'd like some refreshments. One of them casually asked for cocaine. The novel was written in 1979 and Varley apparently didn't foresee that cocaine, which was enjoying a surge of popularity in the seventies, was going to have a backlash against it in the eighties.
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Old 06-09-2019, 07:33 PM
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There was a scene in John Varley's novel Titan where two of the heroes were meeting a powerful alien and were asked if they'd like some refreshments. One of them casually asked for cocaine. The novel was written in 1979 and Varley apparently didn't foresee that cocaine, which was enjoying a surge of popularity in the seventies, was going to have a backlash against it in the eighties.
Social change is very hard to predict. I remember reading a sci-fi book (I can't remember the title, but I'm pretty sure it was written in the 70s or late 60s) set a few centuries were drug use was as common as alcohol and free love was the norm, but only for heterosexuals. Homosexuals were explicitly mentioned as one of the groups that leaving Earth for extrasolar colonies.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:52 PM
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I don't know if this counts as a racial example, but reading the 1939 novel The Drums of Fu-Manchu, it was rather hard for me to get behind the protagonists as they tried to stop the evil doctor from carrying out his fiendish plan to...

...bring about world peace by assassinating Hitler, Mussolini, and their key financial backers and weapons experts (different names were used in the book, but in that's who they essentially were). I mean, sure, the guy runs a criminal empire, but racing to prevent WWII and the deaths of 50 million people from being averted?

Last edited by Annoying Buzz; 06-09-2019 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:25 PM
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Judging from movies, radio and from real-life accounts, hitchhiking was incredibly common in the 1970s and before - people could count on being able to travel by hitching and people passing by felt a social obligation to pick people up along the side of the road.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:42 PM
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Judging from movies, radio and from real-life accounts, hitchhiking was incredibly common in the 1970s and before - people could count on being able to travel by hitching and people passing by felt a social obligation to pick people up along the side of the road.
My belief is that until the 1970s, cars were still somewhat scarce and people felt that helping others like them out for a scarce good was indeed an obligation.

But they felt no such connection with hippies. They saw them as privileged snots expecting handouts. And hitchhiking women were something new. It didn't help any that the 70s were awash in hard drugs, also something new. The combination made hitchhiking very dangerous in a cultural blink of an eye. A lot of people who were used to the safety and ease of hitchhiking only a very few years earlier got blindsided by the change.

I blame Nixon, of course. Imagine a President sending out signals that it was perfectly okay to use violence against people you didn't like. Couldn't possibly happen today.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:51 PM
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In one 1930s cartoon Popeye, mistakenly believing that Swee'Pea has been naughty, prepares to administer discipline by picking up a stout piece of wood.
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:33 PM
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"Thanks... I... needed that."

Also said by the hysterical woman in a film noir, after being slapped or "had some sense shaken into her".
That reminds me of this scene from Airplane!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0GW0Vnr9Yc
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:22 AM
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Some of the British movies from the 1930s and 40s (particularly some wartime 'stiff-upper-lip' productions like Mrs Miniver) just carry an assumption that the wealthy aristocrats are naturally in a superior position to the working class - and that the working class recognise that and accept it.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:59 AM
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Not so much attitudinal as technological, though the two are ultimately entwined: before the advent of cell phones, the heroines of mystery/suspense novels would often, with formulaic predictability, find themselves trapped by the bad guy, who would attempt to murder them in a remote spot. Only the pluck of the heroine would save the day.

I recall reading that as cell phones became ubiquitous, there was actually a workshop at a mystery writers' conference regarding "how to write a realistic climax in the cell phone era." Because nowadays, if one is striving for realiism, all the plucky heroine has to do is whip out her cell phone and call for help.

Common solutions to this writers' problem include lost phones, stolen phones, phones hurled into lakes or stomped on by the evil guy, lack of reception in a remote area, and so on. All of which are potentially plausible circumstances, but this is something mystery novel writers never used to have to worry about.
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Old 06-10-2019, 05:34 AM
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In one of James Fenimore Cooper's novels [snip]...
The same novel includes a passenger pigeon hunt, where the townsfolk are all shooting as many as they can just for the heck of it, but at least Natty Bumppo is portrayed as being opposed to that.
Interesting, that in a work presumably written a couple of hundred years ago and set at an even earlier time; Natty is shown as having some notion of nature conservation. (Am wondering whether it might be worth my giving Fenimore Cooper a try -- notwithstanding Mark Twain's scorn of him...)

In similar vein -- though here, in a historical novel written in our era -- there's an episode in Patrick O'Brian's The Surgeon's Mate, involving a situation and sentiments on the part of Stephen (who is in advance of his times in a number of ways), re the Great Auk.

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I don't know if this counts as a racial example, but reading the 1939 novel The Drums of Fu-Manchu, it was rather hard for me to get behind the protagonists as they tried to stop the evil doctor from carrying out his fiendish plan to...

...bring about world peace by assassinating Hitler, Mussolini, and their key financial backers and weapons experts (different names were used in the book, but in that's who they essentially were). I mean, sure, the guy runs a criminal empire, but racing to prevent WWII and the deaths of 50 million people from being averted?
Thoughts concerning Ben Elton's IMO excellent time-travel novel Time and Time Again: in which the protagonist travels back to 1914 in an effort to cause retroactively, a much more pleasant twentieth century: by preventing Princip from killing Franz Ferdinand -- after which the protagonist moves on to Berlin and kills Kaiser Wilhelm II. It turns out that this is just one such achieving of these goals, out of of a fair number of same, by travellers from an assortment of alternative time-lines (the author sets up a McGuffin by which repeated "shots" at this 1914 feat are possible, and happen) -- and in every such case, the time-line develops in a more ugly and horrific way than happened in "our" actual time-line, with its actual World Wars etc.

Could it possibly be that those in the 1939 novel who are trying to stop Fu-Manchu; have some inkling of a scenario, such as Elton's as above?
  #40  
Old 06-10-2019, 08:22 AM
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Judging from movies, radio and from real-life accounts, hitchhiking was incredibly common in the 1970s and before - people could count on being able to travel by hitching and people passing by felt a social obligation to pick people up along the side of the road.
As a person who hitchhiked in the 1970's: this was pretty much true, but already becoming somewhat less so than it had been.

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My belief is that until the 1970s, cars were still somewhat scarce and people felt that helping others like them out for a scarce good was indeed an obligation.

But they felt no such connection with hippies. They saw them as privileged snots expecting handouts. And hitchhiking women were something new. It didn't help any that the 70s were awash in hard drugs, also something new. The combination made hitchhiking very dangerous in a cultural blink of an eye. A lot of people who were used to the safety and ease of hitchhiking only a very few years earlier got blindsided by the change.
Cars were very common by the 1970's, and even by the 1950's; though the acceptance of hitchhiking may have been partially cultural leftover from the 30's and 40's. And certainly lots of people picked up hippies in the 70's -- including hippies with cars, of whom there were also quite a few, and many of whom would pick up hitchhikers more or less on principle.

Most hippies were taking marijuana and/or psychedelics; use of hard drugs was IME relatively rare. And in any case they weren't a new thing -- most of them had been legal over the counter earlier in the century, and some of what we think of as hard drugs now still were; codeine cough syrup for instance.

I don't know how often women hitchhiked before the 70's, but children certainly did, generally around their own neighborhoods of course.

I think what actually happened was less that hitchhiking became more dangerous than that news reports started to become more national. People heard of things which had happened all along, but without their knowing about them. The perception of danger increased. A similar thing happened with perception of children being kidnapped and/or molested -- not an increase in frequency but an increase in perception.

Of course when the general cultural perception becomes that hitchhiking is dangerous, it does become more so, primarily for the hitchers: because if most people of good will stop picking up hitchhikers, the chances that any given ride being offered is an unsafe one to take increase.
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:49 AM
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I think hitch-hiking was not only perceived as more dangerous, it was more dangerous - the crime rate in the US skyrocketed during the 60s and 70s.
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Originally Posted by Pantastic
One example from EE Doc Smith's Lensman books:
There's a scene where the main character Kim is in deep cover to infiltrate a criminal operation. He goes off on a day trip to have lunch and fish while making a drop for the criminals. As part of his day trip, he brings a packaged lunch in box, then when he's done eating collects the trash into the box and drops it into the late. While he will comment when he does things that are out of character to maintain cover, dropping trash into the nice lake you're fishing doesn't even warrant a mention, it's treated as the perfectly normal thing to do.
Same series - they want to find all the greatest scientists for a conference, and there is a huge library they need to search that takes up a whole planet. They do the search with a card reader.

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Old 06-10-2019, 09:44 AM
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I've been watching a few of the old Our Gang comedies and was struck by the fact that the kids -- who were well under ten years old -- were allowed to play unsupervised. The youngest ones did hang out with their older siblings, but you had six-year-olds who spent the day getting into trouble without an adult around until one showed up to deal with the mess they made.

That was the way it was in the 50s and early 60s: kids just hung out together without adults. But nowadays, you can't leave a child that young without supervision, and it could be construed as child neglect.
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:45 AM
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What about bullying? Way back when, it was just a normal part of growing up? Stephen King's Carrie is a good example. I think King probably suffered some serious bullying in his school days, and wished he had the powers needed to get revenge.
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:51 AM
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That's [card readers] a change in technology, though, not one of attitudes. I suppose it'd have been to Smith's credit if he had been able to predict electronic databases, but one can hardly hold it against him that he didn't. Most science fiction writers don't fare any better, and even the few who do, it's mostly just by fluke.

Last edited by Chronos; 06-10-2019 at 09:52 AM. Reason: Intervening posts
  #45  
Old 06-10-2019, 10:21 AM
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Not quite the same thing but in the mid-90's live action Disney Jungle Book movie Mogwai kicks a character over a cliff and kills him, granted it was in self-defence but I was still surprised.
I haven't seen the movie, so maybe it involves a Gremlins crossover I'm unware of, but I think you mean Mowgli.
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:28 AM
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Well, I'll provide one, because it's so eye-popping: the Agatha Christie novel which was actually entitled Ten Little N.

American publishers, possibly showing a little more sensitivity, generally used the title "And Then There Were None" (now universal, I think); apart from one which went for the anodyne (not!) Ten Little Indians. God help us.
Even worse, both Ten Little N-word and Ten Little Indians are references to children's rhymes originating in the 19th century and being popular way after Christie's book was published.
  #47  
Old 06-10-2019, 10:38 AM
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Common solutions to this writers' problem include lost phones, stolen phones, phones hurled into lakes or stomped on by the evil guy, lack of reception in a remote area, and so on. All of which are potentially plausible circumstances, but this is something mystery novel writers never used to have to worry about.
I collect vintage paperbacks, so I've been reading a lot of 30s and 40s mysteries lately. The depiction of the police investigation varies from fairly good crime scene work to the most casual perusal of the dead body. What I find most hilarious, though, occurs in the familiar plot of a bunch of unrelated people staying in a house when one of them is found dead. The police - invariably - order everyone to stay in the house. Of course - invariably - a second, and sometimes third, person is then murdered because they knew too much, while the murderer gets to gleefully destroy evidence and alter crime scenes at will. Didn't the police ever read mysteries in those days? Everybody else did.


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As a person who hitchhiked in the 1970's: this was pretty much true, but already becoming somewhat less so than it had been.
Most hippies were taking marijuana and/or psychedelics; use of hard drugs was IME relatively rare. And in any case they weren't a new thing -- most of them had been legal over the counter earlier in the century, and some of what we think of as hard drugs now still were; codeine cough syrup for instance.
The Haight-Ashbury scene was destroyed by hard drugs by 1967. (The "Death of Hippie" parade took place in October.) Hard drugs spread though the rock world before 1970 and to their audiences by 1975. In the same way, hard drugs, cocaine primarily, became the drug of choice for partiers in the 1970s. That decade was also the decade for speed, with amphetamine abuse skyrocketing. Speed was abused by truck drivers to a frightening degree.

Remember the War of Drugs? Nixon started it in 1971. He wasn't just going after pot.

I'm glad you had good experiences. I'm not sure that you can say they were typical.
  #48  
Old 06-10-2019, 01:16 PM
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Have you ever read an unexpurgated, unbowdlerized version of Arabian Nights?

In English-speaking countries, we tend to have a romanticized view of the Bedouin, derived from Hollywood movies starring Rudolph Valentino or Peter O'Toole. The 1001 Nights stories were written by urban-dwelling Arabs. They viewed the Bedouin the way we view the rednecks in Deliverance. Uneducated, uncouth, and utterly untrustworthy.

Sexual mores are also peculiar. The medieval Muslims were not nearly as prudish as their modern descendants. Lots of things were forbidden, but there were lots of loopholes.

Premarital sex was forbidden. (But if, by the end of the story, you got her father's permission to marry her, all would be forgiven.)

Extramarital sex was forbidden. (But if, by the end of the story, her husband divorced her, died of natural causes, or was executed by the king, all would be forgiven.)

It was forbidden to have sex with another man's slave. (But, if he was a good friend, he would give her to you when he noticed your interest. [And, if you were a good friend, you would give her back when you were finished. ])

Attitudes toward homosexuality depended mostly on how good-looking the homosexuals were. If and old person, or an ugly person, or a person of low social status lusted after you, that was a calamity. If someone was young, good-looking, rich, and professed their love for you, nobody seemed to mind. The gay sex always took place offstage, but the hints about it were pretty broad.
In Burton's version princes and princesses are constantly being thrown together and having sex after awhile. My favorite example in Arabian Nights is a story where the hero converts a serial killer giant to Islam and then casually mentions him killing the infidels because now that he's a Muslim that's perfectly acceptable.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars and Pellucidar stories feature casual female nudity.

There's a scene in Bleak House where two of the women are talking about somebody and casually mention that her name is a "servant's name".

Last edited by furryman; 06-10-2019 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:21 PM
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I haven't seen the movie, so maybe it involves a Gremlins crossover I'm unware of, but I think you mean Mowgli.
I am indeed thinking of Mowgli, you've probably just corrected a two decade long confusion regarding names.

Though featuring a Mogwai in the background of a scene in a Jungle book movie could be a funny easter egg.

Also, I've just read a webpage about the character gizmo and it suggests Mogwai's are extraterrestrial in origin, I don't think that was ever mentioned or implied in the movies? Edited to add that on further reading apparently they were supposed to be aliens, wow I don't think that improves things or makes a better story to be honest.

Last edited by Atomic Alex; 06-10-2019 at 01:24 PM.
  #50  
Old 06-10-2019, 01:25 PM
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I think hitch-hiking was not only perceived as more dangerous, it was more dangerous - the crime rate in the US skyrocketed during the 60s and 70s.
During which time hitchhiking was pretty common.

After that the crime rate went back down again, and everybody starting thinking hitchhiking was too dangerous.
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