The Death of Disco (1998) – a post modern masterpiece

The Death of Disco is a 1998 movie staring Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard among others as a group of young, white professionals in New York dealing with 20 something adulthood to the backdrop of a shifting cultural mood, namely the death of disco as a popular form of music.

Much has been made about the anachronistic costumes in the movie. Filmed in the late 1990s, the cast all wear 90s clothing, despite the movie being set in the late 70s/early 80s. Comments have been made about how the costume designers “couldn’t be bothered” or maybe it was a low budget movie so they simply couldn’t afford more period accurate clothes?

But what it the costumes are accurate? What if actually the revolutionary cultural situation of the film is as a post-modern reading on the perennial existential angst of humanity? That our concerns over the death of culture or the ending of various zeitgeists have an almost gravitational impact on society, slowing time down, collapsing our social relations the closer we get to the event horizon? The late 70s the late 90s the late 2010s, whatever period we are in cultural anxiety persists. If this is true then the consequence for art is clear – have the late 70s be the late 90s (the actual end of history?). If young people worrying about the end times is the level of analysis then chronology is meaningless. Anachronism is the new black.

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Simon H

Writer, socialist, bit part player in the end of the world drama

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