Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Time Warp Wives?

Time Warp Wives: Meet the women who really do live in the past: "Meet the 'Time Warp Wives', who believe that life, especially marriage, was far more straightforward in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties." This is a fun little article from the UK tabloid The Daily Mail about three women who supposedly live as if it were a different decade--the 1930s, the '40s and the 50s, respectively.

The article is a spinoff from a BBC 4 program Time Warp Wives. You can watch excerpts here. "And it's not just about vintage clothes and vintage decor," the BBC tells us, "they have vintage values!" Such as? "We've been married for 13 years and we're extremely happy because we both know our roles," says faux-50s housewife Joanne Massey (pictured here), who met her husband at a Fifties convention: "There is none of the battling for equality that I see in so many marriages today." The other women are also living in imagined pasts. "Back then, the world just seemed a sunnier place," says Diane Rowlands of the 1930s, a decade that saw an economic depression and the spread of fascism. She does confess that it was "an austere time between the wars."

These women fall under the broad category of historical reenactment--or as I prefer to call it, playing dress-up. Like Civil War or other historical reenactors they project into the past what they want to find there.

Unless of course the whole thing is a media hoax--which it may well be!


AndrewMc said...

This ranks high on my "completely bizarre"-meter.

Larry Cebula said...

I almost did not post this because it definitely has my BS meter quivering. But if it is a hoax it is such an elaborate one.

Juf Jo said...

Not a hoax, these women have a vintage lifestyle, just like thousands of others have.
I know they feel they have been represented in the documentary though.
I too have a vintage lifestyle but am far from a domestic godess.
Just like thousands of women back then I am unmarried, have my own job and am horrible at cooking and cleaning ;)

Larry Cebula said...

Thank you, Juf Jo, for the clarification. Perusing your blog and following the links I see that this is indeed a movement and not a hoax.

May I ask, what sort of historical research do you and other vintage lifestyle enthusiasts do about your periods? I ask because the women in Time Warp Wives seemed to be very knowledgeable about the material culture of their chosen eras, but had very little knowledge of the larger social/historical picture. Lots of their comments were of the "Life was simpler back then, people were more moral, the sky a deeper shade of blue" variety. But this may be a product of the decisions of the TV producers, who were after all looking for something sensational.

In this country we have thousands of Civil War reenactors. What they do--dressing up on the odd weekend--is not strictly analogous to your more encompassing vintage lifestyle. But I do find a parallel in that the average Civil War reenactor has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of regimental brass buttons but only the sketchiest knowledge of the causes of the war or even of the true motivations of the people they are reenacting.

Juf Jo said...

I do historical research for museums, movies, authors, etc.
Personally I am specialized in daily life in Western Europe in the 1930's and 1940's.
So I spend pretty much every day researching this subject.
I cannot speak for others like me but generally the people I have met know quite a lot about the subject and can't get enough of reading about it or talking to the people who lived trough the era.

Because I am especially interested in the 'average' person, I have done a lot of research about the "less romantic" or "darker" side of society.
Subjects like poverty, crime, prejudices, etc, are not avoided by me.

I think that the ladies in the documentary have based their lifestyle on the old Hollywood movies and magazines.
I have no problem with that but it may seem a bit too luxurious and carefree to the outsiders.
Of course plenty of people back then really lived like that, but not all.
And of course back then there were also issues like the ones the ladies in the programme try to shut out.

So perhaps their view of the past was a bit too positive but many people today see those years in a too negative way.
The 1930's were more then just depression, poverty and threat of war.
Modern people may find it hard to accept that many people back then also had it quite good.
It's hard to find reality in between all those overly positive and overly negative ideas.

Generally (!) life was indeed simpler, your life was pretty much clear and predictable.
Freedom and choices are great but they also come with responsibilities and pressure.
Some people prefer not to have all that.
Modern society is full of uncertainties and expectations.

But yes, the documentary makers have made everything a bit extremer then it was.

Thousands of people are involved with re-enactment or living history.
There is indeed a similarity between this and the vintage lifestyle, many people like me often visit, or take part in living history events.
I have seen one of the ladies in this documentary at events singing her heart out.
Great show, search youtube for Lola Lamour.

But yes you are right, many only study the bits they like.
They know everything about their rifle and uniform but nothing about the music that was popular at the time or the newest play in the theater, life of the poor people, etc.

I find the 1930s an interesting era that has plenty of things that are better then they are today.
But of course many things today are better then they were then...
I don't feel the need to romanticize that era, I find it fascinating, regardless if it was a good or bad time to live in.

Time Warp Wives said...

Hello Larry,

You can read a real interview done of Joanne Massey on Time Warp Wives Blog. Joanne was not only disappointed by the Time warp Wives documentary, but also felt misrepresented in the documentary. So she wanted to set the record straight as to who she really is.


Time Warp Wives

Carmen Johnson