Armchair Historians

Simon Heptinstall, Impressions of America, Reflections of America in 20th Century TV and Film

March 04, 2021 Simon Heptinstall, Anne Marie Cannon
Armchair Historians
Simon Heptinstall, Impressions of America, Reflections of America in 20th Century TV and Film
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Armchair Historians
Simon Heptinstall, Impressions of America, Reflections of America in 20th Century TV and Film
Mar 04, 2021
Simon Heptinstall, Anne Marie Cannon

In this episode of Armchair Historians, Anne Marie talks to Impressions of America podcast co-host, Simon Heptinstall. You may remember a couple weeks back we talked to another of the Impressions of America co-host, Vaughn Joy, about how American culture is reflected in Christmas films during the Cold War period. If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend that episode. 

Impressions of America is a podcast which looks at the wider subjects of culture, politics, and media that formed American life in the latter 20th century.

Today, specifically, Simon focuses on the representation, reflection and deconstruction of America during the second half of the 20th century through film and television. He shows us how, nestled within the TV shows and films of that time period, are reflections of the social, cultural and political events that shaped US history.

Care More. Be Better podcast : https://www.caremorebebetter.com/

For More on Simon and the Impressions of America Podcast:

Impressions of America Podcast: https://impressionsofamerica.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/impressionsofamerica/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/usaimpressions
                   https://twitter.com/SirHeppe

TV and Film referred to in this episode:
Wanda Division
Modern Family
Simpsons
Forrest Gump
Fight Club
Truman Show
Independence Day
War of the Worlds
Catch Me if You Can

To Support Armchair Historians:
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/armchairhistorians
Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/belgiumrabbitproductions



Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Armchair Historians, Anne Marie talks to Impressions of America podcast co-host, Simon Heptinstall. You may remember a couple weeks back we talked to another of the Impressions of America co-host, Vaughn Joy, about how American culture is reflected in Christmas films during the Cold War period. If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend that episode. 

Impressions of America is a podcast which looks at the wider subjects of culture, politics, and media that formed American life in the latter 20th century.

Today, specifically, Simon focuses on the representation, reflection and deconstruction of America during the second half of the 20th century through film and television. He shows us how, nestled within the TV shows and films of that time period, are reflections of the social, cultural and political events that shaped US history.

Care More. Be Better podcast : https://www.caremorebebetter.com/

For More on Simon and the Impressions of America Podcast:

Impressions of America Podcast: https://impressionsofamerica.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/impressionsofamerica/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/usaimpressions
                   https://twitter.com/SirHeppe

TV and Film referred to in this episode:
Wanda Division
Modern Family
Simpsons
Forrest Gump
Fight Club
Truman Show
Independence Day
War of the Worlds
Catch Me if You Can

To Support Armchair Historians:
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/armchairhistorians
Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/belgiumrabbitproductions



Anne Marie Cannon:

Hello, my name is Anne Marie Cannon and I'm the host of armchair historians. What's your favorite history? Each episode begins with this one question. Our guests come from all walks of life, YouTube celebrities, comedians, historians, even neighbors from the small mountain community that I live in. There are people who love history and get really excited about a particular time, place or person from our distance or not so distant past. The jumping off point is the place where they became curious that entered the rabbit hole into discovery. Fueled by an unrelenting need to know more, we look at history through the filter of other people's eyes. armchair historians is a Belgian rabbit production. Stay up to date with us through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Wherever you listen to your podcast, that is where you'll find us. I'm chair historians as an independent, commercial free podcast. If you'd like to support the show and keep it ad free, you can buy us a cup of coffee through coffee, or you can become a patron through Patreon. links to both in the Episode Notes. Before we get started today, I'd like to take a moment to recognize and suggest a podcast that I personally love. care more be better, is a podcast with heart and soul hosted and produced by Kareena bellezza can more be better as a podcast that share stories of inspired individuals, social entrepreneurs and conscious companies from around the globe who create a positive impact in their communities. From Pay It Forward marketers to not for profits and community activists, the stories they feature will get you thinking about what you can do differently to be the change you want to see in the world. I urge you to give it a listen. To find out more check out our episode notes. In this episode of armchair historians, I talked to impressions of America podcast co hosts Simon Hampton saw, you may remember a couple of weeks back we talked to another of the impressions of America, koalas, Vaughn joy, about how American culture is reflected in Christmas films during the Cold War period. If you haven't done so already, I strongly recommend that episode. impressions of America is a podcast, which looks at the wider subjects of culture, politics, and media that formed American life than the latter 20th century. Today, specifically, Simon focuses on the representation, reflection and deconstruction of America during the second half of the 20th century, through film and television. He shows us how nestled within the TV shows and films of that time period are reflections of the social, cultural and political events that shaped US history. Simon Hampton style welcome. And thank you for being here today.

Simon Hepinstall:

Thank you for having me.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So excited to get your point of view of what really goes on in impressions of America. Because I interviewed Vaughn is, you know, and I'm working my way around. Hopefully, I'll get to Toby. Next. So Simon, we just really started out with what's your favorite history you're going to be talking about today and off to the races?

Simon Hepinstall:

off to the races? Well, first of all, I think that's a great open ended question. And I think that's what makes your podcast really interesting. For me, it's the second half of the 20th century in general, which I just love. But to be more accurate, it would be the representation, reflection and deconstruction of America through film and television, specifically how film and television views social, cultural and political movement and events in the second half of the 20th century. So be that the growth in teenage culture that was depicted in the films of the 50s and 60s, or how the TV and film of the 1990s depicted post war and modern America such as The Simpsons, Forrest Gump, fightclub, Truman Show Oh, wow. You could kind of say that I fell in love with her film and TV, framed America. So that's that's me. That is interesting. That's as interesting as bonds take

Anne Marie Cannon:

Christmas movies and the Cold War.

Simon Hepinstall:

Yeah.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So is that now is that something that you studied in? university?

Simon Hepinstall:

Yeah. So my background initially was I went to college for two years and did television production. So that was more on the sort of actual editing and filming side of things. And then I went to university and sort of did the more theoretical side of things. And that's where Yeah, I studied media. History in sort of film history and things like Bertha teenage culture, I just loved it. It's really within my wheelhouse, you know, things like the studio system of Hollywood and that kind of thing. So anything that depicts 20th century in general I'm interested in, but specifically things around kind of media and how it, how we take it in and how it reflects our society, I'm just, I'm all over them. Kind of taking a step back, I was just thinking about what makes can history in general, really interesting. And it's this idea that, you know, different people can take different their own perspectives into the history. You know, for example, I've internalized the American 20th century is like a three act structure. So with the first doctor, you're moving from the 1890s, the continued immigration from Europe, the rise of the KKK through the Great Depression, the New Deal with the 1930s. And then you're transitioning back to, which is, you know, World War Two, and America becoming a superpower, the economic growth of the 50s, the Cold War, counterculture of the 60s and 70s, voting rights and civil rights extension, you've got Vietnam, economic troubles, and then Watergate. And so over that middle period, you kind of got a great, you know, you've got growth and you've got change, and you've got decline. And that's where specifically a lot of my interest comes in. As far as you know, the media depicts that kind appear, period, just because there is so much change within in America from this 50 to late 70s, period. And then act three, as I think that is kind of 1980 onwards, which is really Reagan kind of rebirth in America, as it were with the military spending and the reaganomics kind of reshaping America for the next 40 years. And Reagan basically won the war on government spending and deregulation, then you have the Cold War and Fukuyama is End of History and kind of the economy turning around in the mid and late 90s. And so, by the end of the 90s, America's kind of at this position where it's gone through all these different transition periods. And it's starting to look back and reflect on the 20th century. And you see that a lot in the media that it's producing. And it's also starting to look ahead at the possibilities the 20/21 century. And then the 20th century essentially ends with 911, or maybe Gorillaz into Bush, which really sets the tone for the next 20 years with the war on terror, the economic crash of await President Trump, for all those things that have been terrible, but the 21st century, all grew from what came before it in the 20th century be that American foreign policy, financial deregulation, or social and economic and political climate that allowed Trump to rise to power and then eventually become president. And that's what's so great about history is we can talk about the 20th century been, you know, the 1890s, to 2001, we can always trace the cause of the events that are happening today, you know, to the things we just talked about in the 20th century. So any study of the 20th century, is also a study of today. And that's why I want to talk about how the media has and continues to represent and reflect and deconstruct the 20th century because how we process and review events is so very clearly linked to the content that we consume, especially these days when we have so much control over the media that we we watch and read. And I think something I've grown to realize over the last few years is the actual time period of the 1950s. The 1990s is really interesting. But I'm specifically interested in how we can depict review and deconstruct not just the time period, but also the media of that time. And I guess that's what I'm fascinated by.

Anne Marie Cannon:

No, I love that I was just thinking how I could take that clip. And that could be like a very concise and kinda History of the United States. I could have never even said that. And I think I learned a couple things from it as well.

Simon Hepinstall:

I was gonna leave out so much, you know, I didn't even touch upon 1000 other things I didn't you know, I didn't touch upon television and the internet and everything else. But there's so much that you can take in the 20th century. And just for me, it's so fascinating because there are so many divots to go into. And there are so many ways that you can reflect upon things and because the 20th century is still so close for a lot. I mean, a lot of people that are around in power today came out of the late 20th century and for me, that's fascinating to be able to reflect upon that and and specifically in how we depict that in the media.

Anne Marie Cannon:

One of the things that fascinates me about you and your show, Vaughn is American, and you are Scottish. We're talking to you you're in Scotland. I'm in Georgetown, Colorado. And why this history, why American pop culture, I read that you when you're growing up in style. And you said, You grew up in Scotland on a steady diet of American movies, music and TV. What was that like, and then the kind of let's segue back into your adult life and what you're, you know, focusing on now.

Simon Hepinstall:

So I was born in 89, which is kind of the perfect period for taking in the 90s culture in the late 90s, in the early 2000s. So, for me growing up, there was a lot of like, you know, you're watching The Simpsons on TV, or you're watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And one of the things you sort of realize when you're a bit older Is that something like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was the first time I watched an old block cast on TV, and it was the first time I'd heard heard, you know, Malcolm X, or I'd heard Martin Luther King. And the same with the Simpsons, you know, you're hearing about Richard Nixon and George Bush, and then Futurama, you hear your spiral, I mean, even all these kind of things. So from looking back at it, no perspective, it's clear, there were, there were certain perfect storms, as it were, that allowed me to kind of get into some of the things I'm interested in. But I suppose just taking it back, in general, so much of the content I was consuming when I was a little kid moving forward was American, you know, I watched the Rugrats when I was like five years old, you know, this little cartoon, which actually looking back in it now, it's actually kind of fascinating the stuff that they talk about, but so much of the content I can I consumed was American. And so I think there was a natural instinct of like, America is where it's happening, America is where the content is being created, it's where the bigger stories are happening. You know, you just the films that you see on TV, or you go to the cinema to watch, you know, so many of them are American, and you're just being bombarded with this idea of America being at this cultural epicenter of the world. And I think from myself, and many people of my generation, you know, you, you kind of grow up and you, you just get fascinated by this world, which is very similar to ours, you know, the, it's not like, we're looking at some radical alien race, you know, people look the same, and most of the language is the same. And, you know, a lot of the cultural touchstones are the same, but at the same time, there's real differences as well. And so that's kind of fascinating as well, you know, over here, you know, we don't have gun culture, but in America, you do, or, you know, things like that. And it's fascinating to see something which is so close to yourself, but also quite different in certain aspects. And certain, you know, growing up in Scotland, this idea of, you know, going to Northern California, and having, you know, this beautiful sunny weather to go to, you know, and, you know, going on these wonderful beaches, and you know, surfing and all this kind of stuff, it's very different than growing up in Scottish Highlands, where the weather's just different. And so that this chance to see another world through this, this America, as it's shown on TV is just, it was fascinating for me,

Anne Marie Cannon:

dad is really interesting. And I told you before we started that I'm an Anglophile. I love the UK, Ireland, Scotland, and England. And so I was trying to understand what that would be like, as you were talking, you know, like the gun culture I can't even imagine. It's like, I feel like I have to keep apologizing for how stupid we are. And when I lived in the UK, one of the things that became really clear to me is that people who lived there, knew my history better than I knew my history. And I felt ashamed of that, like, you guys always read the newspaper, or like, I remember, I get on the tube. And there was always those free newspapers. And people were always, I never read the newspaper, that's the thing I like about your show is that you guys are so smart. I really like to have these conversations. And I'm not a historian. I'm not really an academic, I studied writing in grad school. But you guys are able to distill this information in a way that I can understand it, which I really appreciate. And I've learned a lot just from listening to the shows I've listened to that you guys do. So what was that? Like? Can I just ask you I know, this is another sidebar? What was that like? Like starting to understand this country who's put producing this content that you're watching? And seeing the gun culture? I'm really curious about that.

Simon Hepinstall:

gun culture is an odd one for us, because it is kind of so alien. In a certain extent, we kind of just associate with America because there are certain sort of aspects of this kind of freewheeling American independent, individual society where I have, you know, the rights to own a garden. And you know, this kind of thing, but also, you know, up on the screen this idea of, you know, you've you've got your view, your Western figures, your Cowboys, you know, the figure with the gun or you've got this vengeful figure or if you know, someone seeking revenge with the gun. And I guess for us, it was almost one of those things where you just have to put to one inside and you go, that is just different how life is over here. And as not to make it too serious. But you know what one of the things which is just so apparent to us is the school shootings, which happened in America and the violence and this idea that nothing changes. And as a contrast, when I was younger, there was a school shooting in Scotland where a man went into a school and shot some children. In fact, I don't know if you know, the tennis player, Andy Murray, who won won two grand slams, and he was world number one, he was actually up, he was actually there the day it happened. And it was called Dunblane. And it kind of changed how some gun culture, some gun laws in Scotland worked and tightening up of security around schools. And that was one event. And that kind of shocked us to the core. And we weren't really a much of a gun nation anyway. But whatever restrictions there were kind of amplified after that. And so for us watching on and seeing, you know, Sandy Hook or whatever it is,

Anne Marie Cannon:

and just I don't know, if I talked about this to Vaughn, but just some telling you a little bit about myself. I lived in New Town, and I worked in the coffee shop where all the community members came the teachers, the kids, half a mile from there, when it happened, I'd worked there for 11 years, it completely destroyed me. And that's how I ended up in Colorado. So I, I I'm with you, it's important to me that we have this gun culture,

Simon Hepinstall:

this idea that American children have, you know, drills that they do, where they hide under desks and stuff. And I've spoken to Vaughn about this about some of the experiences she hadn't. It's just, it is

Anne Marie Cannon:

abhorrent. So yeah, that was a sidebar, don't know if it'll be in it, or if it'll be an outtake or some point, but I really was curious about that. And then I felt like I you said Sandy Hook. And anyway, so let's move on to so now

Simon Hepinstall:

take it back from our podcast side of things. You were very complimentary. So thank you very much that I take the approach of I normally do the introductions, and I like to kind of maybe set the tone as far as moving between guests and moving things around. I like the idea of talking a little bit and trying to clear out and let other people speak. For me, this is a great opportunity, because this is the moment when Toby and I first started the podcast, it was a bit more us talking together. And then as the natural rhythm fluid, there was a bit more asking Toby questions. And then as Vaughn came into the mix, I became much more sort of the interviewer rather than the interviewee. And so while I do contribute, and I do talk about my thoughts on history, and that kind of thing, I try and take an approach of almost like an old school TV host who has someone interesting on the show. And once the hero they won't have to say, and so I love having different people on and I love having involved in Toby all because they will, as you say, they will dive into some really interesting stuff. And you know, a lot of this stuff. A good number of the stuff, I've kind of researched myself, but they'll be some aspects, I want to pick up on my own research or things I'll have thought that differently than they have. And for me, I think it's great that we have Toby involved who are not just really smart and know their stuff, but are so flexible at being able to pick up new stuff on the fly, which may be you know, we're gonna do it. We've kind of moved through the different presidents. So you know, we Toby and I did a trilogy on Richard Nixon. And then we once Vaughn joined, we were doing a trilogy on Ronald Reagan, and we've just finished or we're just in the process of we just finished our second show, I think on Bill Clinton. And, you know, as we move through this, you know, different people have their own kind of general knowledge about this, but they also pick up specific knowledge as we research. And so, for me, it's great because you know, Vonda a genuine historian who's you know, studying for a doctorate, and Toby's got a master's in history, and I'm not historian, I just love history, and I like learning about it. And I like, as it says, clearing out the way and letting letting other people speak. So for me, it's a great, it's a great gig in that way.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Okay, so another question I had was Scottish. Were there Scottish shows that you watched as a child that were particularly Scottish, or English?

Simon Hepinstall:

Yeah. So growing up in the UK, we had you had your British television that would be British Kids TV and British TV in general that would sort of mix an American TV with it. So a lot of the sort of specific children TV would be, would be a mix of maybe more British stuff with more American stuff. And so you'd get your Rugrats being your American TV show or you know, whatever other animated shows you'd have, but maybe you'd have more specific British programs alongside that. Being Scottish There would, it's an interesting mix, because we basically have the BBC and ITV in Britain, and certainly more so when I was younger. But growing up, we didn't have all the hundreds of 1000s of TV channels I had, you know, for TV channels growing up as a kid. And so you get a lot of it, basically, we basically get the same programming for a lot of the time as English people would, but that they would occasionally be a sort of break to be a bit more Scottish side of things, you know, maybe would change after certain hours of the day to represent maybe Scottish television. So they would always be an element of Scottishness mixed in growing up but it was, I grew up feeling very British, my dad's side, the family's English, my mom's side, the family's Scottish, my sister was born in England, I was born in Scotland. So growing up, I felt very British. And the TV probably reflected at being probably more British than Scottish, I would say.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That makes sense. So then flash forward, your it seems like you just had a natural inclination towards looking at media and film, you've got this focus on American pop culture and how basically, your you know, each time period in American history is reflected in the media as film, especially right film and TV. Yeah. So tell me about that. And where do you want to go with that?

Simon Hepinstall:

So I did take? Yeah, I did. I came here with an agenda, I'm afraid

Anne Marie Cannon:

Thank you. I appreciate that. That that's nice.

Simon Hepinstall:

I guess for myself, would start with is trying to maybe go through some of the how I now kind of look at media of the 20th century. So one of the examples I was going to give now was American sitcoms, which I think are actually a really interesting case study for this kind of thing. And it might not be something you will immediately jump on is thinking, Oh, Americans that comes in history. But I think if you actually look at the American sitcom, it really does, it's really good center point for both where American culture is at that time, and then also when you're looking back at the past, from the future into the past, trying to understand where that culture was. And so there's a Marvel TV show on at the moment, which is called one division. And it's basically a superhero show, but it's framed in the structure of a sitcom dynamic, which is told every episode, there's basically three different decades of that PC got the 50s, and 60s and 70s, and 80s, and so on. And so the first episode is like a 1950s, black and white TV show. And the structure of the Honey, I'm home, America of the 1950s, there's a certain element of truth have, you know, that actually been the dynamic of that time, but there's also that that had that was framed in the media is now also how we take it in as well. So as much truth of theirs as there might have been specifically of that time of, you know, the, the nuclear family in this, you know, husband coming home and the wife having the dinner on the table, we also that has also been taken a step further because of the media that that has been representing it. And so you've got this steady sort of change over the decades with American sitcoms up to sort of now where you have the the new normal as it were this idea of having greater inclusion and diversity, which shows like Modern Family where you know, you've got the gay couple, you know, adopting children, or you've got Gloria, who's the young Latina wife, and you look at the contrast in how we deal with sitcoms today, compared to 1950s. And sort of the gamut and in between those decades. I think it does. It's an interesting depiction of American life and American media over that time. And what was telling about this short one division is that when they were depicting sort of the last decades, they went for the modern family style, telling of like the person speaking directly to camera, which you see a lot and things like the office and parks and recreation and modern family. And that's how they're choosing to sort of depict the modern sitcom, which is, I think, interesting, because it sort of asked questions of, well, is that how we need to take in sitcoms these days? Do we need the audience to kind of see it as a documentary style where they're speaking directly to camera and their knowledge in the cameras around them? And does that reflect the society now we live in where everyone's got a camera in their pocket and everyone's got a YouTube channel or a blog or, you know, a podcast of their own? You know, it Are we do, we really reflect the culture we're in today through the sitcoms that are popular at the time. And I think it's easy to see the changes that are in media over the last 60 years is trivial. But I think actually, a lot of the time, they are quite interesting and quite reflective of the time they're made. And I think you can, you can see that with the sort of the style of sitcoms we have today, compared to the 1950s.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, I thought that was interesting to kind of go back to that 1950s episode that you talked about. They try to recreate the style. But was there anything in it that was definitely, you know, not like, wrote from that time period, how it would have been, if that makes sense,

Simon Hepinstall:

I do one division, I suppose is a little bit convoluted if you've not maybe seen the extended Marvel Universe, but essentially, you have this, these sort of two superhero characters, and on one of them is essentially creating the fictional world around them. So the actual world that is around them is actually a creation of, of this character. And they appear to have almost fallen into this false world that they've created. And the false wall that they've chosen to create is through sitcoms. And so you have this thing where they will sometimes break the fourth wall, because it's not a real sitcom. And you know, they'll, they'll do things, but at the same time, they're also sort of depicting, you know, each episode will have, you know, the clothes and the setting and the music of that time period. And you know, the joke style off that time period. And so you, if you were a 10 year old, and you didn't know anything about 1950s, America, this might be your introduction to it. And I guess that is, I guess what's fascinating is this idea of here we have a 1950s sitcom, you know, sort of aesthetic, which today is kind of, you know, put to one side, we don't we need that style, or we don't see ourselves that style, but a 10 year old has now been reintroduced to that. And they are learning about what TV sitcoms used to be like what society used to be like, and, you know, this idea of the man was at work, and you know, he had this cigars, and the woman was at home making the dinner and and each app at each episode being different, you start to have a look at how America saw itself. During those time periods. I think that's fascinating, the fact that we are always revisiting the 20th 20th century because it's such fertile ground for being able to tell stories.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, well, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at these shows, again, without that filter. And it's cool. It's actually kind of cool. So tell me more.

Simon Hepinstall:

Okay, so I suppose jumping ahead, I started thinking about the time period I grew up in, which was the 90s. And, you know, I grew up being a teenage teenager of the 2000s. And sort of looking back at the films that had just come out. And so we had a lot of films in the late 90s. So from my own point of view, I think when we get into the 90s, we have a very reflective cinema in that period. And there's a lot of films that kind of come out in the late 90s, which seemed to follow a very similar pattern. So I picked out a few of them here, which basically follows this idea of trying to push beyond a safe boundary, the off the modern world to try and find adventure or to try and find truth in a world which doesn't make sense them or in a world that doesn't seem to fit. So you've got films like American Beauty, The Truman Show, matrix, Fight Club, office space, they all feature white male leads and safe, comfortable office jobs, they seem to break away from the realities and find truth or adventure by breaking away from the false realities of modern life. So you've got things like, you know, breaking away from the modern life of things like matrix and The Truman Show where you've actually got an actual reality beyond that, or things like just trying to find meaning in everyday life of like American Beauty and office space, which is, you know, this repeated pattern of we here we have a safe white life for this guy and everything seems on the surface, like it's okay. But there's, there's something else kind of at play here. And the reality that construction, the random doesn't make sense to them anymore. And for whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of that happening in the late 90s things in another film, for instance, is Magnolia, which again, was came out in 99. And two different scenes to pull out what one is there's a scene where all the different characters that are settled around LA, they all start singing the lyrics to the same song At the same time, and it's almost becomes this sort of singalong moment, which can almost bridge reality for a moment. And then later in the film, it turns truly biblical and actually starts Raining Frogs from the sky. And so it seems as if, in the late 90s, there's a move towards almost existentialism, and this idea of, what are we? What's the world around us, actually? What does it mean? And, you know, we all take our own experiences into how we view art and in return art kind of reflects back at us in many different ways. And so perhaps, when I analyze a film of the late 90s, and I see contemporary settings, where reality starts to break down, maybe I'm giving that an extra level of significance, because I emotion, you know, for a time before 911, where we appear to be heading for a future of possibilities, where we, you know, we're worrying about existentialism, rather than, you know, a future based on fear. But I do think there is something to the movies of that time, which kind of lends itself to being annoyed. But on the kind of other side of that you also have the view of these films of the late 90s, where the characters don't believe in their very own realities. And, you know, they seek to find, you know, a truth, which is greater than the world present themselves. And perhaps on some level, at that time, we knew that this golden period was kind of false. And it was built on a poor foundations and what what was kind of happening now was about to break down. And, indeed, what we see in the view, just a few years later, in the 21st century, you know, a lot of those sort of things that we consider bad, were sort of underneath the surface, and just waiting to, to sort of take hold as it were. And so I think there are so many different ways you can analyze films. And to me, you know, two main ways that other people can analyze films. And I think it's important that we do sort of pay attention to different interpretations, because, you know, we will start to understand things in different ways. And just one final thing on this, I think Fight Club is a really good example of something that maybe changes over time as well. So that was a critique on bond society, especially around like corporate greed and consumerism. And yet, perhaps his biggest legacy now is a lot more complex, because its depiction of the righteous anger, the white man, you know, has actually inspired a generation of men to break away from society and consider women hostile, and think taking power back through violence is how we deal with the world. And that's what sort of makes sense to them. And in fact, the film popular is using this term snowflake as an insult, which we see all over the internet today. And so whether or not you agree without reading, you know, it doesn't mean that maybe the original text of it been a takedown of late 90s, consumer driven America is, you know, inaccurate, I think artists are subjective that you could enjoy it on its sort of level as it may have come out in the 90s. But you can also look at it now, it's been very different because of what's coming next and what is inspired. And so for me that late 90s periods is really interesting, because it really did seem to start reflecting on what was happening, it did seem to be a common set of films that were are a set of films at a common theme of this white safe male character who was trying to break away from it. And I think looking back at now, I think that's really interesting.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That is interesting. Did you see what the constitution means to me? I don't know if you know, well, it just reminded me of that. I love your take on that. This is fascinating to me what you're talking about, it's a play, it was a play, and it was supposed to be traveling this year, last year, but COVID. And so the premise, the premise is this woman who which True Story, when she was 15 years old, she would travel around to these debates about what the constitution means to me. And it was all these kind of old, a lot of, you know, old fellows kind of organizations and stuff. And she won and I talked about in my last episode, but she went to enough money to put herself through college. And so she was this white, chirpy little, blond haired girl going around to these organizations, and she went all this money. She revisits it as an adult. And that's kind of the premise and I won't say any more, but your, what you said about Fight Club was such an over arching explanation to me that I totally can see what you're saying. And she kind of goes back and talks about the history of, you know, women and why women are afraid and how they act and all that. So I just really appreciated your kind of take on that. I recommend it though. I'll cut that out.

Simon Hepinstall:

think there are so many different interpretations, and you can take these things and I think it's interesting what you say about, you know, women being afraid because I think one of the things that we can do You need to struggle with or have struggle with certain over the last, basically, since cinema was invented, was this idea of trying to get a woman's perspective on film, and anytime you have more than one woman speaking at time suddenly becomes a female film rather than just a film. And I think for audiences, I think it was Roger Ebert that said, cinema was an empathy machine. And, you know, it's about generating empathy in about generate and understanding. And I think for a lot of men who would, you know, grew up and see, you know, Fight Club or taxi driver and say, Oh, that's me, you know, the world doesn't understand me, I need to, you know, strike out and be different, or whatever, you know, maybe if there was an opportunity at a younger age to watch a more diverse set of entertainment, you know, be it you know, foreign language films or female focused films, you know, maybe the idea of representation, maybe they would understand that actually, the female character of you know, a woman doing x y, Zed, or you know, someone a different country, doing x, y, Zed is as much a representation of them, as, you know, a white man having some struggles, you know, late 20th century, or whatever the case may be. And, yeah, I think that's interesting with regards to women in cinema, because we are starting to see a little bit more nai with female directors getting a place in Hollywood, but it continues to be a struggle. And I think that's something that we American, American cinema and cinema in general, but obviously, American cinemas continues to lead the way, as far as just the industry, you know, how do we deal with making sure that women and people of color and different backgrounds, you know, they're able to tell their stories, I know, all the stuff I've touched on here has been the sort of standard white America perspective, because growing up, that's what the stories that were being told, outside of maybe something like Fresh Prince of Bel Air, a lot of entertainment that you saw on TV was it was white characters, you know, it's their stories, time and time again, you know, it's, it's too often it's the, it's the white male perspective on things. And I think we need to continue to grow in that perspective, to move beyond that.

Anne Marie Cannon:

preaching to the congregation. What else,

Simon Hepinstall:

what else? So I was also thinking about this, in regards to my own perspective on this, and I kind of realized that watching these these films and films, in particular, in some of these TV shows, I kind of became nostalgic at a young age. And so I became the subject not only of the, the things, I have an interest for, you know, be of The Simpsons, but also my own experiences off it. So I think the the larger interests of the second half of 20th century is based on my own addresses based on soldier, both in terms of the content created. And also, you know, on the personal level, I was saying, and I think for many people my age, who grew up in the time of 911. And remember the news and media before and after that event, there's kind of a clear line in the sand, as to the tone of the news in the media. And in fact, a good example of that is a difference in tone of the War of the Worlds which was made post 911 compared to Independence Day, which was made in the 90s. And both films are about aliens trying to invade Earth and causing massive destruction. But the tone of the films and their characters are polar opposites. And now we look back at both of those films from a distance and we can clearly kind of see the difference in how they represent the times in which they were made, and the kind of hope or lack of hope that was in American society at that time.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So was there more hope in Independence Day?

Simon Hepinstall:

Yeah, it's much more triumphant, it's much more. The basic concept is America, these aliens have come to, you know, kick our button, through American ingenuity, we're actually going to kick clears, whereas War of the Worlds is a lot more hopeless. It's we're getting exterminated here and then fall into falls the original story, which was they die out the aliens essentially die out because they couldn't handle the microbe germs that were in our Earth. You know, it's it's the it's the, the germs that basically defeat the aliens rather than any, you know, strike by military or anything like that. And so, Independence Day is about celebrating the earth independence from this invading force, where's more of the world is basically a kind of 911 on screen. There's a lot of like, you know, buildings collapsing and dust, covering people and beams, destroying people into vapor and all this kind of stuff. And it's quite 911 imagery on screen and it is very much just trying to survive a slaughter more than anything else. And then we sort of win by accident almost, whereas independent stress is a triumph of the world in America over the A in force.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, well, interesting. Didn't see War of the Worlds but I did see Independence Day.

Simon Hepinstall:

It's an interesting film. I mean, it's, it feels off its time it does feel off that sort of post 911. Things are a bit grim in America kind of thing. And I think looking back now, it does maybe feel off its time, but it still hasn't some interesting parts.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So as you're now analyzing these shows and movies as an adult, how do you see your world your? Are they reflected at all in these movies? Because you keep referring to the American kind of mentality and point of view these? Do you see yourself in any of that?

Simon Hepinstall:

I find it, I find it that I'm probably not, I don't feel like I'm seeing myself necessarily, although there will be elements where as I grew older, you know, I got married a couple years ago, and you know, hope to have kids in the future. I'm sure there'll be representations of, you know, that kind of standards thing, if you know, waking up at 3am to change the babies or whatever it is that you know, the naturellement have seen media that star sir, reflects your age. And I suppose there's an element of when you're young, and you're, you know, you're out with friends, and you're going to clubs, and you're drinking and that sort of more party lifestyle than the college lifestyle, maybe your first job kind of thing. There's an element of seeing some reflections on it, and my own life, but I'd say for the most part, it's probably more. I probably feel like I'm observing rather, like I'm observing something else, rather than necessarily. I'm feeling like I'm being represented on screen. And that's how I'm currently taking it. Maybe teenage Simon who saw the struggles of the various film characters and TV characters. Were not maybe I did feel more representative. But I can say that no, I feel like I am kind of watching it, but from a distance.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That's interesting. All right. More, please, more, please. Okay.

Simon Hepinstall:

So my favorite TV drama full time is madman.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Oh, I watched that. I watched all of it. Great.

Simon Hepinstall:

I think it's really interesting, Sean, you know, I think it's really smartly put together and it picks that, you know, the early 60s up from 1960, to the early 1970s. And, you know, you kind of get that period, which, you know, I obviously didn't live through and, you know, for me, it's kind of a great depiction of that time period. And if the certain characters and sort of expectations of people within that society be that, you know, Men at Work, or women in the home, as it were, and, you know, Dear God, don't let them in the office kind of thing, or, you know, so I think for me that that's, it's almost so on the nose, the fact that that's my favorite TV show, it's almost too obvious. So Mad Men, I think, is really interesting TV show, because I think I think a lot of the writers were actually women, which I think was a nice change, considering her male dominated a lot of the story is, and how much the perspective is, Men at Work. And in fact, you know, when they, it'd be very easy. There's a difference between a show depicting sexism and a show being sexist. And I think you always have to be careful when you're kind of depicting that you don't cross over the line. Now, I would absolutely listen to any woman who would say that madman was sexist. I personally didn't find a cyclist. I could understand, maybe they would. But the what we know, some of the sexism, especially in the early part of the first couple seasons is, you know, they do represent on screen this idea of, you know, men in that time, they drank, and they saw women as objects. And it's, it's a really interesting depiction for me about how American life transforms, you know, the thing the show starts in 1960. But it's the it's not the 60s, as you know, we might think of it in kind of a very obvious way, it's still basically a hangover of the 50s. And it's not until later in the show that the 60s as it were actually gets going. And then you've kind of got the outside stuff with that. So you know, you've got the different elections and the JFK assassination and Vietnam and that kind of thing. And then moving through to the 70s. And the sort of change in culture there. And so from a purely historical document point of view, it's really interesting seeing basically the, the character shift from a certain 1950s viewpoint to a 1970s viewpoint. And then there's obviously just the interpersonal stuff that I think plays out really well with the different characters as well.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, I have to agree with you. Because when I'm thinking about it, I love the aesthetic. Yes, I all through just everything. I agree with you. It wasn't wasn't sexist. It was really showing us what it looked like. And we're able to judge from this viewpoint and they did it beautifully and I'll never forget that first episode with the cigarettes because my dad was a Lucky Strike smoker. And everything about it. Oh, I got to go back and watch it. But yeah, yeah, I agree with you and I didn't I didn't know that it was a lot of women writers I really didn't know that I

Simon Hepinstall:

could be wrong. But from my understanding, I think there's a lot of female writers involved in the show, which I think does help. I mean, it Well, I think of Matthew whiner I think was the the guy who created the show. But from what I understand, within the writing room, I think there were a number of female writers which helps when you are trying to tell a show which depicts sexism. You know, I think making sure that that is balanced out I think is very important.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That was one of the few series that I really watched every single episode. Oh, yeah. And couldn't wait till the next one came out. So what else about bad men?

Simon Hepinstall:

Man, man. Um, I think we kind of touched on a little bit there. But I think just the the aesthetic is so different. And so well, like crystallized and you do feel that you are in that world is not just a case of like, you're watching a play that's supposed to take place during this time, and you've got some storage, like, the costumes that they're wearing, and the ability to sort of transform you into this world, which like, is kind of the way I look at American of contemporary times, and it seems, you know, like my world, but different, it's kind of like that, looking back in the period of like, 50s to 70s, which isn't so far removed from our time. But at the same time, it's different enough that the, you know, they can go into a restaurant and smoke. But just kind of expanding from that. When I was thinking about man men, it kind of it did sort of dark me thinking about when I started taking in, or seek out film or TV like thoughts? And how much of that is, did I seek that out? Because if it was just one of the things that was available, or did I seek it out, because I genuinely had an interest in this. And I thought back and I was thinking for my 14th birthday, I think it was we went to see Catch Me If You Can in the center, which was the Spielberg film with Tom Hanks, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Yeah, and I didn't realize at the time, but that was probably me, following a pattern that I'd established younger age about seeking out content that gave me a chance to visit the 20th century. And catch me, if you can't, I think, again, a really good example of a film being set in that time, which is, you know, a time period I'm really interested in. And, you know, there's a, there's an example of me, going back to my way and going right, let's go let's go watch that. And growing up in the Highlands of Scotland, you know, it was like an actual proper day trip to go to the cinema, you know, and so to take, you know, one of the one of the few times that year will go into cinema was to watch Catch me if you can, which, you know, for me was a really enjoyable film, and is something which almost set the tone for some of my interest going forward.

Anne Marie Cannon:

There was a good film, he was such an unlikable character.

Simon Hepinstall:

There was another film that came out in the early 2000s, called Almost Famous, which was about a fictional rock band in the 70s, or late late 60s, early 70s. I think it was. And I would have, I was too young to see not in cinema, but I got the DVD when I was a teenager, and he kind of just watch it and you take in, you know, another example of taking in the world of the 20th century through the films that you see. And, you know, you know, growing up, you know, music was a big part of my life as a teenager and you know, it wasn't listen to a lot rock music and you know, American rock music and all this kind of thing.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, what did you listen to?

Simon Hepinstall:

So I suppose when I first got into music, it was things that were kind of popular at the time. So it was things like, you know, the Foo Fighters, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or you know, that kind of early 2000s rock music and then you start to look back at the 90s music and then you're listening to you know, Nirvana or you know, things like that. And you kind of naturally I suppose, start to get certain tastes of things that are similar to the things that are popular or sort of semi popular of your time. And so, again, there's a lot of seeking out I think American music, which was kind of continuing the pattern of taking in American media as it were. And so you listen to an American song, and maybe they're singing about a life which is very similar to yours. But again, it's an American voice singing it and so I suppose that just repeats that pattern of going to an American to listen to about life or listen to about rock music.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah. Oh, interesting. Have you been here?

Simon Hepinstall:

I've never been no, it's something I'd as a teenager, it was like a when I'm young. You know, when I'm older. I read like to visit California. And that was something I'd be really interested in. Life kind of gets in the way You know, you go to college and you get a job and then suddenly years pass and you're saving up and then oh is a wedding to pay for it? And some Yeah, overheads, and it's, it's one of those things that I would, I would very much like to make the trip and I'm sure I will one day but yeah, not had the chance. Yeah.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, that's how I feel about England. Well, I didn't actually traveled to England until I was 50. So it's never too late. So, yeah, what else I know you've you've got our path cut out for us. I'm just

Simon Hepinstall:

so we'll probably the last thing I really had noted down was I was thinking of a film which I've only seen parts of them, they've actually seen the whole thing, which is a film called Pleasantville that came out in 1998, which is kind of a sort of natural extension to back to the futures the Back to the Future, you know, you have them actually going back to the 1950s, where's Pleasantville? I believe they actually go inside the TV show off the 1950s sort of set up. And so it's, as I say, a sort of natural extension of, we're no longer just going back to the actual time period, we're actually traveling inside the media of that time, our immediate depiction of that time. And it started, again, driving back this idea of nostalgia and how much nostalgia is often a driving force within media. And the they have this thing which they refer to as the 30 year cycle. And so as the 50s was the golden histology, or for a lot of TV, if the film's film and TV of the 1770s and 80s sci fi comedies and like the future is done by me, the 80s has become the era of choice over the last decade. So you have Stranger Things, the Americans. It's a film that came out not long ago. So I guess, again, going back to this idea of nostalgia, we've got this nostalgia at the moment for the 1980s and for a lot of the culture around that. And I was thinking No. Who knows maybe 30 years from now they'll feel realest realest object for people, you know, binge watching Netflix and starting their own podcast? I don't know. But it's funny how that happens. And, you know, maybe maybe in a few years time, we'll be really nostalgic for the 90s. You know, I guess it's it's always interesting how these things, things play out, and how we seem to look back on a certain time period. And I guess part of that is just as people age as different generations move forward. And as they become the sort of group who had maybe has a certain power within media, there's a certain natural element of it's that you're never going back to reflect upon. And so maybe that's, that's why a lot the culture, I mean, we had Wonder Woman 1984, which is a Wonder Woman film that came out last year, set during the 80s. You know, that's the time period that they wanted depicted. And so, you know, I find that really interesting. This idea

Anne Marie Cannon:

is interesting. So is that a phenomena, this 30 year cycle you're talking about? Yeah.

Simon Hepinstall:

So I believe it's sometimes referred to as a 25 year cycle, a 20 year cycle, there seems to be some discussion as to exactly the specifics. But certainly the 30 year cycle, I think, is the most famous of those. And it's this idea that give yourself 30 years, and it's that time period that you're looking back on. So as I said, a lot of content of the 80s was looking back in the 1950s. And a lot of content now is looking back in the 1980s.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, that's interesting, too, because Eric Escobar, who was my last episode, he chose the 80s to talk about, and I lived through all that stuff. You don't realize as you're living through it, that it's history. And then when people start reflecting on at the younger generations, and then you, you're like, yeah, that I guess it was history. And then now like that I'm getting even older, and the 80s. You know, I see that I do see that cycle you were talking about?

Simon Hepinstall:

Absolutely. And it's one of those things where I think you quite rightly say, maybe you lived through a period. And you don't you don't think of that as history. I mean, we're, we're coming up to the 20th anniversary of 911. Oh, you know, and all that kind of thing, which is quite amazing to think how quickly Time passes. And it's funny, you don't think or maybe life was that different 20 years ago, but just even just technology, this idea of you know, we had flip phones, no one was really on the internet, or he's not to the same extent that you Everyone is online to today. And so, you know, I didn't have the internet in 2000s. You know, and now I'm online all the time. And you know, kids growing up today will just grow up in this internet time and that's all they'll ever know. Whereas I grew up essentially present You're not really. And some of the even just some of the things that you look at the fashion of the 2000s, you think can the world really be that different? And you actually go Yes, I was genuinely terrible. How did we how do we decide to live that way? So

Anne Marie Cannon:

yeah, I don't I don't see that. I mean, I don't see that fashion is just 80s had distinct, definitely fat 90s I guess they did at it have a fashion, but I don't know what it was? How would you just would you describe the fashion of

Simon Hepinstall:

the 2000s. So looking over the last sort of 1015 years, they're just there. You look at like a pair of jeans, for instance, which is really kind of insignificant, and in some regards, but actually, a pair of jeans quite often reflects what that society is. So it I was watching the film clueless other day, which is the sort of the adoption of Emma, which is really good from the 90s. And one of the things that that film comments on is the men of that time are wearing really baggy jeans, they're basically falling off them, I mean, really baggy jeans. And by the 2000s, they weren't sort of, they were some really massive jeans in their own respect. But it was in a slightly different way. So I wasn't quite hanging off them quite the same, but they were sort of flared towards the bottom in a very distinctive way. And if I, if you look at a lot of the young team TV stars of that times when they'd walk red carpets, it's actually really cringe worthy to think No, but quite a lot, sort of the teenage pop stars of sort of the early to mid 2000s were wearing like a skirt with jeans underneath them. And it's that sort of thing, which people will look back on and go, why would they were in both jeans on a skirt, lots of really old choice. And so maybe we'll look back from like, 10 years ago, when skinny jeans really came in? And they'll go Yeah, wow, f1 jeans were really skinny for a while, weren't they? Yeah, maybe we'll feel as much embarrassment about that as we did for for certain time periods. But there are, you know, like, I was never what they called an emo that was never my scene. But you, you look back at a lot of emo kids after sort of the late 2000s in early 2000 10s. And, you know, they've got a very distinctive look. And most of them are grown up. Now, my age and the have, for the most part probably grown out of that. And for that, for them, they probably felt that was a real cultural identity for them. But looking back now, they probably think or maybe some of them may feel up, though that's a little embarrassing, you know, my hair was a certain style of my jeans were certain style or I spoken a certain style. And you know, everyone lives through that, and everyone has different experiences of of what they wear, and

Anne Marie Cannon:

well then no then and that it's gonna come back in, and the younger kids are gonna think it's cool. I've lived this every decade. But I actually am kind of embracing the 80s. Again, I have to say, is there anything else about this history? Or you want to share?

Simon Hepinstall:

I'm trying to think No, I mean, I suppose from my own perspective, when Toby and I first started the podcast, we were looking for an EMF podcast. And we were always sort of scratching around trying to come different ones. And I was kind of looking at different things. And then I saw this Oscar Wilde document, I suppose it was, he had this writing called impressions of America, which was, as a, you know, someone from one side of the pond kind of going over to America and his perspectives on America. And I thought, Oh, that's kind of interesting, you know, that, that impressions of America. He's getting these impressions from America from you know, his, his time traveling there. And furtopia myself growing up. We were getting these impressions of America from the media we were taking in and from the news we were taking in the film, the TV and the music. And I think it's kind of fitting that we ended up doing a podcast called impressions of America. And I'm talking to you today about 20th century history and 20th Century Media. Because we did get impressions of America as as it were,

Unknown:

yeah. Oh, yeah.

Simon Hepinstall:

You know, I've not lived in America, I can't tell you what American life is genuinely like. But I can tell you about the impressions we got off America for the film and television in us into the history that is told. And I guess that's, that's the kind of story behind the name of the podcast because it kind of reflected our own experience of taking in America as it were.

Anne Marie Cannon:

I love that it's brilliant.

Simon Hepinstall:

As the as the starting point for us to move forward is both our own impressions of America. And also when we look at the surface snapshots of different parts of American life, you know, the impressions that they sort of leave on America, you know, whether it's Richard Nixon, as we often joke about or it's any other character, you know,

Anne Marie Cannon:

we'll get back to Nixon, we're gonna talk about him. I have to say that I find it really helpful listening to your experience, and trying to fit my head into what that was like, you know, it makes me a little bit more open to the differences. And kind of over the past 20 years have really been understanding the American personality and how we're perceived by other cultures, other countries and that type of thing. Feeling a little ashamed of it, I have to say, I'm trying to be more accepting of that identity, I find it really helpful to listen to your experiences, and that, you know, coming from Scotland and be your impressions and what that's like it. I don't know, if I feel like we're more connected that way. It makes me understand things better. I didn't say that. Well, but

Simon Hepinstall:

no, I understand. Yeah, I mean, yeah, I suppose it in a way, I would feel a bit guilty. Because if someone if an American started talking about impressions of Scotland, and, you know, SAR, trying to view our country through media and through history, you know, it's very easy for me as a person not living in America, to you know, be critical or to analyze certain things in a certain way, and not have to live with the fact that that is my identity as it were. And I think for vano, though, I don't want to speak for her, it's a bit different, because although she's now living on our side of the Palm Desert, where she will be critical of American many different aspects, she is Stilton, she grew up in America, she has no family and friends in America, she still has part of our identity as being an American. And so I, we are often critical about certain aspects of American life, and certain things that don't make sense to us, or certain figures who have brought shame on America, or whatever the case may be. And there are, you know, instances where, you know, one of the great bugs I have with America is, quite often, certain Americans will proclaim America, the greatest country as if that were a thing that could possibly be, you know, how you can describe any country as the single greatest country, I don't, I don't understand. I guess, putting all that to one side, America is a fascinating country, and it has so much going on that is both good and bad, and indifferent in all areas in between. and I never want to feel like I'm completely destroying a country, which is given so much back to me, and it would kind of feel false, if, if I were completely critical of American considering how much interest I have in it, and, you know, I will pick apart, we all will poke to pick apart things that we don't like about, you know, America, or American life, or American culture, or American films, or whatever the case may be. But at the same time, I don't want to be unhelpfully critical of a country, because there are so many great Americans who are doing great things every single day, that, you know, there are people right now who are helping people in Texas, you know, with the struggles they're going through, and they're doing fantastic work. And I don't know any of their names, and they're doing all these things, without, you know, fame or glory. And they're doing great work. And I'm sitting back, and I'm reading a summary of one perspective of the news of, of Texas, and I'm somehow, you know, quote, unquote, informed about it. And I, I never want to feel like I somehow know more about America than the people on the ground. And I guess that's one of the things that we have to try and drag on the podcast is

Anne Marie Cannon:

that you know, about America from your perspective of it. And I think that you guys are very self reflective, and you're very thoughtful, you're very educated. You know, I've come to terms somewhat with who we are, by being outside of the country and traveling in Europe and that type of thing. And I think you guys bring a really important perspective. And sometimes it's, it might be subtle, but I think I wish that more American people would understand what we look like from the other side, I think that would maybe help us help some of us, but we deserve a lot of the criticism we got, and I'm not offended by it. You know, we have to come to terms with that. So the podcast, I think we've kind of naturally segue to that. I do want to ask you one more thing. What is the thing that you want to leave my listeners with about this history? What's your message?

Simon Hepinstall:

Um, I suppose the history that we've been discussing today, I guess the thing I'd like to leave with them is this idea that it's not that far away at all. And it's a lot closer with respect to both the themes that are happening in America today and also the people that are still in power as it were. And I guess with any history, part of the point of studying it is to learn from it and to understand the lessons from it and I I think it'd be very easy to say, look at some of the things happening in America today and thinking how outrageous and crazy they are, and thinking this is some sort of fluke. And, you know, there have been lots of things that happened in America, in the, in the time period I'm discussing in particular, you know, because that stuff we're going on about today, but, you know, much further back as well, which really does reflect how America is right now. And I know it kind of feels like America is in a different point, because Trump was so outrageous. And you know, we had the capital riots, which, you know, punk scene and 200 years, all the things today, which seems so different, but I suppose the thing, if I can leave anything with the audience would be, there is so much to unpack from the last 50 years. And maybe consider how we view had the media has no view in some of the events of the last 50 years and how things are being framed. And think about that, as we view things today. And as we move forward. And, you know, I can't imagine any of your listeners right now would be on the Trump side of things. So I don't really feel like I'm trying to turn turn,

Anne Marie Cannon:

I think I've gotten rid of all those by my politic, we're trying

Simon Hepinstall:

to win over anyone you in that regard. But I guess a lot, a lot of what I've been talking about is just considering how we frame the news and events of today on Think about how we've been viewing and framing the events of the past 50 years and think, right? Could we have done a better job at the timing? Can we do a better job of today, and you see some of the false hoods of how certain things were framed at the time, with regards to you know, rights for women are by people voting or things like that. And we have to continue to hold the people accountable, both in positions of power reduction, making these decisions, but also the media that's supposed to be representing us and and for me enough, and, you know, there are good things and bad things as far as how things were depicted in the past. And let's try and learn the lessons off that as we move forward, and if things aren't being held to the high enough standard, where, you know, we see a lot today where a lot of things I'm with the Trump presidency was Trump would say something that rageous which was completely false, and be framed as you know, Trump says that the moon is made out of cheese, Democrats disagree. And rather than it being, you know, Trump lies about what the noon is made out of,

Anne Marie Cannon:

yeah,

Simon Hepinstall:

we should be continuing to hammer, you know, whether it's politicians, or whether it's the media or whoever it is, you know, we must try and be critical of what's happening today, the same way as we'd be appalled if we saw, I don't know, I film from the 1960s That said, it was okay to slap a wife if she became hysterical or something like that, you know, it's, we have to try and, you know, things like, you know, trans rights, they're happening right now. And you know, in American in Britain, one of the one of the things is a big fight, you know, as to how things like transgender rights are being portrayed in the media, and you only have to look back at how rights for women and rights for other minorities have been framed over the 20th century to see that this is almost a sad, natural reaction to you know, as soon as someone tries and gets their rights, which is, you know, what they should be doing? A lot of the establishment is to knock that down and to frame them in a in a bad way. And we have to try and learn that lesson that you know, it wasn't okay to do that to women and to black people, and it's not okay to do that to transgenders.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, that's beautiful. That's beautiful. You're right. Okay, podcast impressions of America. So you, you and Toby started this. Yeah. And that was in 2018. I think

Simon Hepinstall:

it was probably correct. I'm losing all concept of time, to be honest. I mean, it's currently 2021. But it could be 2046. Or it could be 1997. I'm not really sure at this point.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Okay, so yeah, that and so it was it's, it started out with you and Toby, and Twitter,

Simon Hepinstall:

Twitter. Yeah, we became friends, just through someone mutual. And then we started messaging. And we're like, right, let's get a podcast together, because that's what men in their 20s do apparently. So we, we got a podcast together. And we started talking about what we were interested in, which was specifically sort of that 1960s period of, you know, a lot of stuff or 1970s 60s and 70s. We think our first one was on the the post of the film about Watergate scandal, and then we did a lot of stuff around Richard Nixon, and some of the things around counterculture and those kinds of things. And from there, we started to sort of extend us to, you know, some of the guests, we'd have on We'd have you know, historians or whoever want to speak about, you know, maybe their books or we had, you know, different different perspectives and different topics. And then it was I think, as Vaughn said, it was about a year ago that Toby, Toby somehow found Vaughn, in the annals of the internet and reached out and, and yeah, Vaughn was interested, I think, I think it might might have been something along the lines of maybe becoming a researcher to begin with, and then become a co host if she was interested. And she was, and one of the great one of the many great things about Vaughn is she somehow fits about 1000 different things into a day. I don't know how she does it. She does

Anne Marie Cannon:

so much idea. He struggles with her illness.

Simon Hepinstall:

Yes. Genuinely astonishing. I amazing. I feel tired enough trying to fit in a full time job in the podcast. And but you know, spending some time with the wife, I don't know how she does all the things she does in a day. Yeah. And she, you know, she was great. And she has a different voice. And I think the, if we have had any success over the last year, in particular, with regards to our chemistry, I think volume has been a great part of that. Because just having I think having any third voice adds something to it. But I think having someone as interesting and as informed as Vaughn has been a real blessing for the show. So I think it's been great for ourselves to add Vaughn in and, you know, we continue to do different shows and talk about different things. And, you know, hopefully that continues for for a while yet.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah. Yeah, I'm really impressed by all your knowledge. All of you guys. Like you, you can talk about anything, and you have so much information. What else do we need to know about the podcast?

Simon Hepinstall:

Which I think if there's anything else we need to add, other than the fact that when I listened to the episode, you did quiz her about richard nixon until being arrested and Richard Nixon. So maybe we should set the record clear on that

Anne Marie Cannon:

one. Because really, what won't be overdue your podcast, it was actually a conversation with Vaughn and Twitter. And I was listening to your episode on winter presidents. And it was Vaughn It was not you guys, I have to say, because she came out of the gate saying, well, Jimmy Carter was my favorite president. And I, I've never had that conversation with anybody. But you know, so I was a kid. My dad was a staunch Republican, yelled at Jimmy Carter. And I just remember, like, I knew my own mind back then. I didn't speak it, but I knew it. And I, you know, love Jimmy Carter. And so as a human being, I know that he got chewed up and spit out by the political climate and the world. And, you know, but he still was, it is a good person. And, and in my heart of hearts, that's what I wish would work.

Simon Hepinstall:

Yes. I think if we were if we were being serious, I think we'd all agree that Jimmy Carter was a thoroughly better person than pretty much any president has come before after to be honest. Jimmy Carter. Yeah, it comes across as a genuine person who, who cares about other people, which in itself seems a rare skill and politicians these days, Vaughn probably correctly says that, you know, she she does think of him as it hit as her favorite president. I don't have a favorite president because I find the concept of a favorite president. Odds and incorrect. I don't, I think you can, like at the moment. AOC I think it's a really interesting politician. I think she does great things. And I think it's great that we have someone who's both chosen for as well informed as she is, and also someone who is able to communicate the way she does, particularly to a younger audience. But this idea of sort of having a sort of fanboy interest in a president or being really sort of reverential towards the President, I find that a really difficult concept, partly, because I think having not for anyone in political office is kind of dangerous, because they should be representing us rather than us being a fan of them. And the idea of someone being a politician, should be them working for us, and they should never feel as if they've automatically got our vote, you know, they should have to win it through their actions and, you know, their deeds as at work. So for me, anyone being a favorite politician or a favorite president is kind of an old concept. And to build on that part of what I find odd about the idea of having a favorite president as well as, as it stands now. So much of the job of being a president is to make some really terrible decisions and do things this way, specifically around things like whether or not you invade another country or whether or not you do, you know, you blow up a building because it's some sort of retaliation, you know, the standard protocol thing, which I It's a very foreign concept, I think, for anybody really to understand about how you make a decision of taking another person's life, you know, in a cold calculated manner in that sort of fashion. And I think it's really difficult for American presidents these days to have to deal with that type of foreign policy where they are making decisions about whether or not they should strike back against terrorists, if it means, you know, killing innocent people, because the idea of sort of taking a box from 5000 miles away and killing someone is so foreign, and it should seem so ugly. And so anyone who has to make that decision, there's an element if I feel sorry for them, but also an element of, I also can't really celebrate them in any way, because they are still doing that act. But that's sort of an aside, but on specifically on the Richard Nixon thing at Toby and I, I mean, I'll speak for myself, between them growing up in the sort of time period, I grew up in the 90s. He was a cartoon character, he was okay, he was appeared in The Simpsons, or what, you know, whatever it was, that was, you know, this ridiculous caricature, who was, who did the bad things and was always, you know, he was like a cartoon villain as it were. And so there's an element of just enjoying the character of Richard Nixon, in that regard. And thinking of him as this sort of extension of American political life, which is sort of beyond normality, as as it were. So there's an element of that, then there's an element of Toby and I just having fun with the idea of picking someone to like other people, clearly, we dislike for obvious reasons. There's an element of just like, Oh, we love Nixon, just because there's also there's probably a small percentage of Nixon actually was, for all his flaws. And he had many flaws. He was actually a relatively skilled politician. And, you know, he actually achieved things and, you know, he's someone who worked his way up. And, you know, he was Vice President when he was 14, you know, he was, should have won the 1960 election, but it was essentially cheated out of that. And, you know, for all the many things richard nixon did wrong, there's at least some sort of skill to his career, and, you know, some of the things that he achieved, whereas, you know, some precedents, I can't always say that for because they sometimes sort of just seem to stumble on the office, such as some recent examples. But yeah, Nixon is a Nixon is a fun character, because he was, he was almost a Boogeyman for a more innocent time where the worst thing he ever Well, the worst thing he is proclaimed to have done with Watergate, which I don't think was the worst thing he actually did. I think, you know, if you look at some of the things with regards to Cambodia, bombings and things, I think that had a much bigger impact on on people's lives in Watergate. So I think there is much we joke about, you know, Nixon as a character, we also have to take into account that him like a lot of presidents did, you know, some truly awful things, which you know, you would never feel good about joking about, but you kind of sometimes have to put that to one side and just enjoy the caricature element of Nixon is the boogeyman for the sort of later 20th century for presidents and he's the one that we should all try not be like, and then of course, Trump came along and was just the most ridiculous version of anything that anyone had ever been. And now Trump is just so far beyond anything that Nixon was it's, it's it's almost like I say, a more innocent time to think back that Nixon was the boogeyman.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, it is. Well, and then the other thing is that at least, Nixon resigned. But I mean, he really didn't have a choice he had to because his own brothers were coming down on it. But

Simon Hepinstall:

I think there's an element of Nixon was a bad person in some respects, but he was still a person. I honestly don't think you could describe Donald Trump in normal human like a normal human framing. I genuinely think there's something basically psychotic about him. Like, I don't think he has an understanding of reality the same way. Yeah, well do. I think he has no concept of things like genuine patriotism, or genuine sort of compassion for people. I don't think it's any interest in making America better unions interests, and making you know, his pockets larger or defrauding people or having fun taking, you know, lollipops from children or whatever it is. Whereas Nixon for all his faults, I think he did have some sense of, you know, trying to make certain aspects of America better. But obviously Nixon did lots of terrible things. And we don't try and gloss over that. But it's still fun to think of the caricature of Nixon, and especially now with Trump, who is I get it, yeah. And even even not just Trump, you know, some of the terrible things that George W. Bush did, for instance, you know, and, you know, you only have to look at the war in Iraq and, you know, hundreds of 1000s if not millions of people, you know, died or having to get home and, you know, some of the terrible things and it's, it's, yeah, like I say, it kind of comes back to this idea of having a favorite American president. It's, for me, that's such a foreign concept. So I under Standard revolting means by Jimmy Carter green hearse. I don't think I could ever proclaim other than Nixon just for comedy reasons. I don't think I could ever proclaim anyone to be my favorite president.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, I get it. Do you have a favorite Prime Minister?

Simon Hepinstall:

I think that's the same. No, yeah, I don't. It's funny. This isn't one thing that has been brought up so far. But part of the reason that Toby and I started the podcast, and is something we mentioned before, is talking about American politics. There's a certain distancing that we can take where the things that are happening in America good or bad, big or small, we are somewhat removed from that. And it's not our daily lives, I could not do a podcast about British politics. And I couldn't talk about Brexit, and I couldn't talk about Boris Johnson on the you know, I just, I would just lose the will to live if I had to talk about it on a weekly basis. So there's definitely an element of needing distance to talk about things like politics, and history, which talking about America allows us that distance, it's like art is it's the biggest stage. So it's kind of the most fun to talk about. But also it's a distance stage, and even things that might sort of touch upon our reality, you know, British troops were involved in the Iraq War, for instance, we're still framing around the American side of things, rather than necessarily the British side of things. And it's rare that we'll talk about the British side of things on the podcast.

Anne Marie Cannon:

It's too personal. Yeah, too emotional.

Simon Hepinstall:

Oh, yeah. So for Toby, and I think we see that as a way to distance ourselves from

Anne Marie Cannon:

what do you see in the future of the podcast, the future,

Simon Hepinstall:

the podcast, immediate future will just be a sort of continuation of where we are, are at with the three of us, we've been quite politics heavy over the last year or so because we've been, as well as doing the history side of things. We also have been doing a lot of current politics as well, because, you know, we have an interest in that. And that sort of plays in through a similar theme. So we did a lot of stuff around the the election, both pre and post, now that Trump's out of the way, and we've got over the hump of the election, we're hopefully going to be doing fewer episodes, I'd say on the actual current policies and the current politics of today. And we'll probably also, for a while, move away probably from the presidential side of things, maybe breakaway into some more sort of self standing episodes that are about specific things, maybe a bit more on the film side of things, we've talked about maybe doing things on our local sort of state level, rather than necessarily on a on a national level. So it might be that we, you know, look at some of the stories of things like New York or Massachusetts, that there are so many, you know, ways you can if you could frame a podcast, which is about, you know, American history, as it were, and one could be, you know, New York on film, for instance, or the certain stories of how New York has evolved from the 60s and 70s, to you know, the Giuliani years of 80s. And, you know, the the 2000s, post 911. You know, there are things that we could do on a state level and stores that we could tell which we've not really gone into when we've been doing callin things at national levels. So that's something that I think we could be exploited in the future.

Anne Marie Cannon:

I look forward to that. So where do we find you guys?

Simon Hepinstall:

So our Twitter is at USA impressions. I think the impressions of America podcast should be available on all platforms, your Spotify and your iTunes and everywhere else, you get your podcasts, impressions. america.com, which we sometimes put different articles up on there. So yeah, there's various ways that you can contact us we're always always happy to be sought out as it were. So yeah. Simon, thank

Anne Marie Cannon:

you so much for being here today. I really enjoyed talking to you.

Simon Hepinstall:

Well, thank you for having me on. It's been a real pleasure talking to you and thank you for not falling asleep as I ramble. Oh,

Anne Marie Cannon:

I hung on there. I literally hung on every word I let I love this stuff. I really do. So. Alright, well, you have a good rest of your Saturday.

Simon Hepinstall:

Thank you seem to you.

Anne Marie Cannon:

There you have it. Simon Hampton style. co host of impressions of America podcast. For more information, be sure to check out the Episode Notes and do look for another episode in which I interview Toby Lauer who is the third and final co host of impressions of America, coming up in just a few weeks. Thanks for listening today. Have a great week.