Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indiana Jones: Bane of Vintage Enthusiasts

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was recently released. Once again Indy donned that brown fedora and gripped his whip. This time, instead of punching Nazis he was crushing Communists. The biblical treasures gave way to alien crystal skulls. And people in theaters were taken back in time...

Indiana Jones is the bane of wearers of fedoras and vintage clothing. Rarely can I place a brown fedora on my head or wear a leather jacket without hearing someone identifying me as the fictitious adventurer. "Hey Indy!" go the catcalls. Once while wearing my 1950s silverbelly Open Road fedora and a leather flight jacket with WW2-style nose art painted on the back I heard a lady behind me quietly begin to hum the Indiana Jones theme song. This proves two things. First, one does not need to be wearing anything similar to IJ's getup to provoke thoughts of archeological discoveries and slugging bad guys. Secondly, most Americans view the era of the 1930s-1950s through the lense of the Indiana Jones movies. And that's pretty sad.

Though entertaining, the movies are completely insignificant in the ultimate scheme of things (like most movies). It is truly unfortunate that the struggles and triumphs of perhaps the most important era of the 20th century is almost completely forgotten only 60-70 years after the fact and are only brought back to life for most Americans by Hollywood stunts. The destruction of the Golden Era lifestyle, architecture, value system and way of life in general is almost complete. And once it is complete we will only be able to glimpse at the past through the work of actors and directors. Just like Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg.

Recently a fantastic Royal Deluxe Stetson homburg sold on Ebay for $200. And while homburgs usually don't sell for half that much, this one did. It had a very tall crown and wide brim and was in almost untouched condition, but that's not why it sold for so much. It was because of Indiana Jones.

Looking at the buyer's other items we see dozens of IJ items, from holsters to IJ dolls. Why would an Indiana Jones collector be so interested in an old brown homburg? One can only imagine the horrors that fine hat must be going through right now. Steam to flatten out the pencil curl, scissors to cut off the edge binding. Or perhaps to cut down the brim in an attempt to get rid of that 'unauthentic' edge binding.
Most ignorance is willful and sometimes it ruins historically priceless items.

But not all is doom and gloom. One bright spot is that more people will become interested in history because of these movies. With more vintage-inspired movies on the silver screen the more vintage enthusiasts we see. And maybe they will turn the tide against the historical ignorance. Inviting new folks into the hobby is always fun; helping them learn and understand the past is even better.

So maybe the movies are important, at least to a certain extent. While they may help many people remain ignorant they also bring others out into the light of historical knowledge.

And that is indeed a good thing.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails