Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"60s Girl Grooves" on PBS

I've admitted before that I only have broadcast television at home. This means that I sometimes get to see interesting things that I didn't know about because I don't have a choice in the matter. If you have the freedom to choose to do whatever you want, you may choose to refuse to do some things on the basis of not knowing that you would actually like to do them. So not having total freedom of choice can be a good thing, sometimes.

In this particular case, I tuned in to PBS and saw that they were advertising a series of music videos and tracks of hit songs by girl bands from the 60s. The title to this post gives the name of the program. I myself am a stalwart 80s person when it comes to the style of music I like (not necessarily the lyrics...you'd be surprised how many of them talk about sex, euphemistically, if you haven't stopped to think about it before). Nevertheless, I recognized quite a few of the songs I heard. But what I was most intrigued by was not the music, but the women themselves. And not in the way you might expect of a guy in his 20s.

I was shocked by how they were dressed. Having not lived through the '60s, I've often heard about how the '60s was the decade of the Sexual Revolution, when modesty was thrown out the window. If you've heard of Hippies, this is the heyday of when they roamed the earth. Anyhoo, what I hadn't realized was that if modesty was lost in the 60s, then it must have been had, initially, in order to be lost. So in the early part of the 60s, you should expect to see evidence of modesty rather than immodesty. This is what I saw in the music videos.

Allow me to emphasize this observation: almost all of the videos shown on the broadcast depicted the performers covered from ankle, to wrist, to neck, with no skin showing in between. Only one had shorts that ended above the knee, and even she had a one-piece getup that covered her arms to the elbows. The "most undressed" of all were the ladies who had their arms uncovered:

Look at that! How scandalous.
Above are the Supremes. One might imagine when hearing the name of their hit, "Heatwave," that one should see bikinis and dancing on a beach. Nope. I couldn't find any still shots on line, but they were dressed ankle-to-wrist in whatever-they-call-those-things. I was stunned. 

Beyond the get-ups, their motions as they performed were extremely restrained by comparison to musical mainstream artists today. Again the 'guilty party' were the Supremes, who moved around the most on stage of all the artists that were featured. Guess what they were doing? Swaying their hips. Oh man. Yes, most of the artists stood still and maybe turned side to side or snapped their fingers with the beat. It was SO WEIRD, coming from a world where I've been able to see the dance moves of pop stars on television and on Youtube, which by and large utilize armies of sex-specific (depending on the performer's sex, that is..it's the opposite in the) backup dancers, elaborate sequences of choreographed steps and typically even a striptease or hip-thrusts that would put Elvis-the-pelvis-Presley to shame...or is that, 'to dignity?'

I ate it up. It was fascinating.

The 60s was only 40 or 50 years ago, depending on which end of it you're counting from. When you see what a difference that period makes in a culture's sense of acceptable attire--and stage performance behavior--it can make you wonder, what will the next 40 years look like? Will things become even more licentious? Or are we going to experience a bounce-back? A rebellion against the rebellion to the old culture, which has become the new culture? One hopes. Call me crazy, but I think I enjoy the type of artistic atmosphere that promotes female talent based on their musical skills and not their willingness to behave in shocking ways in order to "please" a crowd. 

I've always thought t-shirts and shorts looked better than string bikinis, anyway.

~ Rak Chazak

No comments:

Post a Comment