This retro-inspired property from Chris Barrett Design is featured in Retro Culture.

Has Retro Culture Gone too Far?

An upcoming documentary asks the question

Upcoming documentary Retro Culture, screening on Sky Arts next Monday, investigates the resurgence in vintage style in recent years. The film recounts this “retro-mania” and asks whether looking to the past helps people to live better in the present.

The documentary discusses the vintage-inspired movement in pop culture, seen in TV shows such as Mad Men. It delves into the “neo-retro” communities seen in places such as Paris, New York and Berlin, meeting people who adopt the appearance, values and codes of an era. Many of those featured believe vintage culture enables them to better live in the present, but, without having seen the film, I don’t know if I agree.

A retro obsession can take you away from the present. It can be a form of escapism from the "real world" we live in with its shiny new products and 24/7 screen-filled lives.

Listening to the music of the 60s or using a 70s food processor can help to create a fantasy world. But is that a problem? Maybe only when it becomes an addiction — when the collection of retro goods threatens to take over somebody’s life. Mostly, it is just a harmless hobby, and, I imagine, a better form of escapism than many other addictions.

• Retro Culture screens on the Sky Arts channel Monday May 4 at 8.30pm.

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New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

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