When I look at a teenager’s blog filled with outfit posts from the 1940s or 1950s, exclaiming that it would be ‘cool’ to go back to the past, I don’t feel like I’m watching a new phenomenon. The same thing has been said many times by audiences who have watched Heritage films or period television dramas, dreaming of a ‘simpler’ and ‘better’ past. Of course, we all know the past was rarely ‘better’, and for the majority of the working population, for minorities and for women, it was downright hellish in many cases. So why do we continue to enjoy the delusion of a beautiful picturesque notion of history?
My answer would be that the representation of the past is often all about the present; it is one of the ways through which we discuss, debate and define our current beliefs, and engage with our contemporary problems. The way we represent history on screen and on blogs has very little to do with the way ‘it really was’, but with the way we want it, and need it, to be.