Monday, December 12, 2011

Flashing Back

I've been doing some historical research lately, and I've spent time looking at archived popular news magazines, like TIME, in the library. I'm looking now at 1968, because that is when my upcoming book is set, and a time I need to get more familiar with, seeing as it's a bit before my time.

The process is really intriguing, not just because of the information my research is uncovering--I expected to learn that stuff--but also because of some unexpected results. The best part of flipping through these old mags is the classic advertisements!

Wow, times have changed. Never has it been clearer to me than when I'm looking at these old ads. Looking at what is considered beautiful (women who aren't stick thin), what is considered fancy (really nice Scotch), what is considered risque (long distance driving) and what is considered cool (great cigarettes) has really transformed in the last forty to fifty years.

Needless to say, some of these changes are for better, and others for worse. It's all subjective. There are lot more drawings in the old ads, in addition to glossy photographs. There's a lot more text to read and absorb. There are a lot more families represented, and a lot fewer celebrity endorsements. Alcohol and cigarette and car ads dominate. It's striking, because booze and smoking have become so taboo in ads in recent years.

The research started out as drudgery, but now I'm loving this project. They say a picture is worth a thousand words...well, the thousand or so pictures I've looked at tell an entire story of a moment in time, and the way the country thought and reacted in those days. It's the closest I've come to feeling like I know what the world "looked" like in 1968. Pretty intriguing!

Is there a time period from the past that you'd like to visit?

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