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Time and Time Again

posted by Amanda Hallay, Assistant Clinical Professor, Fashion Merchandising

Professor Amanda Hallay Discusses the Current Craze for Time Travel

Outlander.jpgOccasionally I get the sense that many students at LIM College whom I’ve never met most probably hate me. Why? Because I created the Fashion History and Global Attire requirement, and 50 thousand years of any kind of history is a lot to digest in one semester.

Hopefully, an equal number of students whom I’ve never met don’t hate me and enjoy what I like to think of as a time machine that transports young people of the 21st Century to the Dark Ages, the 17th Century, the Roaring Twenties, and so on.  

One of my verbal teaching tools in my own section of FHAGA (as we’ve nicknamed the course) is to tell my students not to consider the past as "something that is over," but instead, to think of the various historic periods as "locations," places where we take a vacation each week. Instead of saying that we’ll "be studying the 18th Century this week," I say we’ll be "visiting the 18th Century, taking outings to Versailles, meeting Marie-Antoinette, etc.," and invite them to step into my time machine for a white-knuckle ride through history.

I don’t know how many of my students actually feel like my classroom is a time machine, but perhaps when they start watching the slew of movies and TV shows currently airing (or about to) that center on time travel, they may not dread their weekly video lectures quite as much!

11.22.63.jpegIt started with a romantic thriller on Starz. Outlander (based on the successful series of books by Diana Galbadon) finds a 1940's nurse transported to 17th Century Scotland.

Next came 11-22-63, a Hulu original series based on the Stephen King novel of the same title and starring James Franco as a 21st Century high school teacher who finds a portal back to The Kennedy Era just in time to save (or will he?) JFK from assassination.

NBC’s Timeless debuted in October, and centers on the standard motley mix of mavericks who travel through time to thwart Nazis and other  (I only watched a little of this; I spotted a couple of costume anachronisms and couldn’t go further!), while The CW hosts Legends of Tomorrow, featuring superheroes who travel through the past to make the future better.

TimeafterTime.jpgComing soon to ABC is Time After Time (based on the 1979 Karl Alexander novel and nail-biting movie starring Malcolm McDowell), and I’m particularly excited about this offering, as the premise is so clever. HG Wells actually builds his time machine, but (unfortunately for us), Jack the Ripper jumps into it, transporting himself to our present day (which, being full of violence, war, murder, and general chaos, he feels right at home in), and HG Wells must then chase him through time to curtail his diabolical rampage.

Later in the year, Fox is debuting Making History, a more light-hearted jump on the time travel bandwagon. The series stars Adam Pally as a 21st Century dweller who somehow manages to get himself back to Colonial America on the weekends, where he involves himself in the Revolutionary War and falls in love with Paul Revere’s daughter. Corny as this sounds, I just watched the trailer and it actually made me laugh. (Which is no small feat, as my students will tell you. I take history very seriously!)

If this isn’t enough to convince you that time travel is the current TV go-to, there’s even more in pre-production. FX has a time travel show in the offing: Time (which promises to be a cross between Back to the Future and Mission Impossible.)

Timeless.jpgThe big screen has also been offering a sizeable slew of time travel movies, starting with Paradox, a not-so-thrilling thriller that was billed as "A Time Travel Experiment Gone Wrong." It seems that the movie went wrong, too, and as the central character only travelled an hour back in time, it hardly seems worth the effort.

The main character in this year’s indie comedy How To Time Travel doesn’t voyage far into the past, either; he only goes back far enough to stop his girlfriend dumping him. Also this year, Synchronicity took the baffling sci-fi thriller route to time travel, and in development are All Our Yesterdays, based on the premise that if we could travel back in time to stop someone being born, who would it be (and I can’t help but think that some of the FHAGA students would choose me), as well as the delightful sounding Time Freak, where a guy builds a time machine to travel back to Ancient Rome, but can’t resist returning to his own, sorry past to fix the mistakes that he’s made.

MakingHistory.jpgObviously, time travel is currently hot, but the question is, why? Is our present too scary and chaotic that the thought of returning to an earlier era seems comforting? Has our present become so boring that the past seems stylish and exciting by comparison (Note: The past was stylish and exciting by comparison, of this I am utterly convinced!) 

Is it all a secret, government conspiracy to get us accustomed to the idea of time travel? Hey, this isn’t as outlandish as it sounds. Famed physicist Michio Kaku thinks so. In his wonderful book, Physics of the Impossible, he states that recent discoveries in quantum gravity could make time travel a reality within the next twenty years! (I would talk about this more, but I don’t know what quantum gravity is. Suffice to say that I have always believed that we’d one day travel through wormholes or whatnot.)

Legends.jpgWhatever the reason, this interest in time travel is sure to impact fashion, with nostalgic, retro trends that speak to more tailored and sophisticated times. (It’s worth noting that both 11-22-63 and Timeless are set in an age where people dressed better.)

Coincidentally, last week, Profs. Miller and Alfonso asked me what superpower I would choose if I could have one. A conversation I continued with Professor Sanchez yesterday evening over one of our regular "boozy brainstorms." All of the above chose teleportation, which would definitely be a lovely (and very practical, especially during rush hour) superpower to possess.

Me? I chose time travel. Sure, it may get a little hair-raising at times, but at least I’d always know what to wear.

Topics: time travel, Fashion History and Global Attire, FHAGA, science fiction