Hollywood as an icon is fast going the way of Howard Johnson’s to time-honored oblivion as indieism decentralizes the home-movie monolith, but there are some time-lapse productions still available, such as The Founder, a sugary-salty movie recollection of America’s one true history of consumer capitalism.
Who cares to delve deep into its dumb wars, its stupid Nixon-infested politics, its morose social mores and fatuous religionism – it’s the bounteous excess of mass-scale consumer capitalism that makes for popular retro-entertainment. All those burgers and shakes, fries and root beer floats didn’t just disappear in o the ether – these intensely manufactured home goods were the definition of American life for a good long post-war period, as The Founder evokes. Blatant jackasses like Ray Kroc and the recent spate of tech geek cretins like Jobs and Gates and Zuckerberg were the men responsible for driving this post-war industrial victor and behemoth into the lives and mouths and ears and eyes of nearly every human on this planet, and it does no good to pretend that this consumer wonderworld was all excess and destruction – there was a lot of freezer-cold calculation that gave the average American such a toxic blast of slick sensations in eating, reclining, and driving.
Damn, those fries in their devious excrescence hit the jackpot. These are all nostalgic gimcracks now, as the downside to such “entrepreneurial” genius becomes transmogrified into climate catastrophe, insane levels of business-fueled economic inequality, and record levels of obesity and cholesterol drug intake. McDonald’s (improperly apostrophe’d unto eternity), Wendy’s, A&W, Friendly’s, Saturday morning cartoons, Ronco, Sorry, 70’s one-hit wonders, F Troop, TV dinners, minute steak, Adrienne Barbeau – these are humanity’s icons now, and their millennial/Gen X replacements will never be more than pallid imitations of the primordial Sugar Smacks.