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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 19 September 2016

The One with the Cultural Legacies

My children have discovered Friends.  Showing every evening on our holiday, it was great to revisit much loved episodes.  Apart from the occasional fashion issue or the distinct lack of technology to assist (or not) the characters' relationships, I think the shows' content has really stood the test of time.  They just make me laugh every time.  And the kids loved it.

This sharing of my loves has not always worked with the children.  Some things just don't work for succeeding generations.  The Bagpuss (above!) and Clangers DVDs gathering dust on my shelf are testament to this.  Books have not gone how I would have liked either.  Try as I might, I cannot pass on my love of 'classics' like Little Women, Treasure Island etc.  My son reads futuristic adventures like The Hunger Games.  My daughter loves Jacqueline Wilson at the moment.  They did both read some Enid Blyton in the past but not avidly.  Harry Potter has been actually the one series we definitely have in common.  Except of course I first read the books as an adult. 

So how are 'classics' decided?  How many generations have to adopt and love something before it is a 'classic'?  These days we refer to 'classic comedy', for example.  But mostly this means stuff from the Sixties and Seventies.  Is it measured by number of re-runs, number of awards?  Or by generational fanbase?  The Morecombe and Wise Show could be shown to every preceding and following generation and they would all 'get it'.  Well, once you had explained television to the preceding ones obviously.  Is it therefore the themes which constitute a classic?  A love story, a slapstick comedy, a war epic.  All understandable for hundreds of years, no matter what the fashions.

What about all the other stuff?  The books and shows which haven't really stood as classics but in their time were loved and admired.  Hundreds of books were written in the nineteenth century but sometimes you could be forgiven for thinking there were only a relatively few authors around.  Thousands of plays have been written.  Many rarely get a second outing.  Some forms of entertainment enjoyed by our ancestors have vanished forever.  Unless we have access to diaries or letters (sadly unlikely in most cases), we cannot have a rounded idea of what made our ancestors tick.  People should be required to leave recommended - and honest - reading/listening/viewing lists with their wills, maybe.  (In Friends, Rachel claims her favourite film is Dangerous Liaisons.  Her actual favourite is Weekend at Bernie's.  That kind of honesty...!)

On a related note, in the last week there has been a furore about changes to the Great British Bake Off.  Now, I do love the show but I don't believe it will be a classic.  We will not be watching its repeats in ten years time.  I think the more important things to take from the GBBO fuss are the further whittling away of the BBC's resources and the very creditable refusal of presenters Mel and Sue to change channels with the show.  It is a pity, though, that we can't better use the energy expended on outrage over television programmes, Z-list celebrities or random YouTube videos.

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