Millennial digital content via G.I. Generation analog technology and vice versa
I was stopped short earlier today as I drove between Wooster and St. Clairsville when I happened upon Ohio’s oldest drive-in in Strasburg.
The just released cyberbullying revenge thriller Unfriended was on the bill.
I am amongst the final Americans to have graduated from high school without exposure to the Internet, and drive-ins say “analog age” to me in the way that few things do. I have the haziest memories of going to the drive-in with my teenage mother and her friends. IIRC, I wasn’t supposed to get in without a ticket, but a boy who worked there was sweet on one of the young ladies and always comped me in an effort to impress. Part of the weirdness of the experience was the technological discordance of showing a feature film about digital media on an analog platform (digital projection doesn’t make sense financially for drive-in operations). Another part of the weirdness was what the two technologies mean socially. I haven’t seen Unfriended yet, but I had read Emily Yoshida’s review in which she calls the movie “the first film to accurately capture our virtual lives.” The weirdness wasn’t about anything like nostalgia, a cloying, insipid sentiment if ever there were one. The Lynn wasn’t founded as a retro venue. Rather, it has been around since 1937, less than five years after the patent for the drive-in was issued.
This embedding of the bleeding edge new within the still relevant old was also part of what stopped me short in Strasburg. And after I arrived in St. Clairsville and started working on this post it occurred to me that my reaction there probably had something to do with my reaction to the new Star Wars trailer less than 48 hours previous. The formula was reversed in that one: rather than the juxtaposition of the new being delivered by way of the still relevant old, it was the delivery of the still relevant old via the new that left its mark.
Time leaves its marks in interesting ways; striking the right balance of the old and the new is a mighty challenge. There’s new everyday, but I count myself lucky when I get the chance to actually see some innovation. Since Emily Yoshida is one of my fav pop culture writers, I’m now looking forward to checking out Unfiended. And distinguishing between conservatism for conservatism’s sake and the recognition of those things which will become antiques rather than obsolete is a mighty challenge. E.g., the once mighty innovator George Lucas, who proved unable to see that his innovations would never be irrelevant. Early indications are that J.J. Abrams might be cut from a different cloth.