“You think decadence has declined…?”

I’m not much for quirky comedies these days, mainly because in so many of them the offbeat itself has become the focus. But really, the quirkiness is at most an effect – of the slightly anthropological quality that satire takes, and of the fact that life is so peculiar that it paradoxically requires exaggeration to be accurately represented.

Damsels in Distress (which I just got back from seeing) gets it right, and in no small part because it is genetically closer to Oscar Wilde than Woody Allen.  And, of course, a movie that lovingly skewers the pretentious, idealistic and often slightly weird milieu of university life is going to appeal to me because in spite of all my higher ed carping  I can’t help but have a certain fondness for these characters. In part because I’m perhaps a bit closer to them than I sometimes like to admit.

And, of course, I was rather shocked to find a movie which so casually summed up my own disillusionment with sexual liberation:

VIOLET: Have you chosen a topic for your paper?

FRED: Uh, “The Decline of Decadence.”

VIOLET: You think decadence has declined?

FRED: Definitely. Big time. Major, major decline.


FRED: “How” or “in what ways”?

VIOLET: Either.

FRED: Okay, take the flit movement in literature, or homosexuality—


FRED: Homosexuality. It’s gone completely downhill. Right down the tubes. [He makes the sound: “Whchht.”]

FRED: Before, homosexuality was something refined, hidden, subliminated, aspiring to the highest forms of expression and often achieving them. Now it just seems to be a lot of muscle-bound morons running around in T-shirts.

[Violet looks a little shocked.]

FRED: It’s pretty disillusioning.

[Violet pauses in thought for a long moment]

VIOLET: Are you gay?

FRED: Not especially. But in another era, it would have had more appeal. Now, I just don’t see the point.

(Quote borrowed from here)

It is almost peculiar that gayness would probably have been more of a temptation, more of a spiritual stumbling block for me, had I lived in, say, Victorian England. But these days the wages of sin is boredom.

Anyhow, do see the flick.

(edit: Gratias ago, Don)

About Josh W

A Catholic. Likes to write stuff and draw pictures.
This entry was posted in higher education, Movies, pop culture and its discontents. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “You think decadence has declined…?”

  1. Pingback: Politics, grammar and velcro | Zoopraxiscope

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