Sunday, 30 October 2016

Instant tradition

From the BBC:

Mexico City has held its first Day of the Dead parade, complete with floats, giant marionettes and hundreds of dancers and performers.

Mexican tourism officials say the inspiration came from the opening scenes in last year's James Bond film, Spectre*, which was shot in the city. Bond is seen chasing a villain through crowds watching a parade of people in skeleton outfits.

It is hoped the new parade will attract more tourists to the city… But Lourdes Berho, chief executive of the Mexico Tourism Board, said Spectre had created "expectations that we would have something".

Whenever something is described as 'tradition', it always strikes me that it can't always have been tradition; there was a first time for everything. Most things are never repeated, but sometimes, a year later, people do the same thing again because they enjoyed/profited from the first time; after a few decades it is simply 'custom' or 'tradition' and it somehow has to happen in a certain way.

Social scientists, anthropologists, theologians, historians and so on will debate the origins of things more and more as time goes on and longer after the reason it happened the first time is lost in the mists of time. These people will look for deeper symbolism and so on, nearly all of which is is ascribed, attributed and invented long after the event. IMHO, the first time was just an unusual set of circumstances which people repeated a year later for a giggle and so on.

On the other hand, there are customs and traditions which die out, be that 'penny for the guy' being displaced by Halloween or some sacred Native American ritual. People bemoan their loss and talk about homogenisation of culture and so on. Well so what? I vastly prefer watching telly to Morris dancing or compulsory archery practice on the village green. Who are we to tell Native Americans that they should be performing certain dances at certain places at certain times of the year instead of watching telly?

Clearly, newer traditions serve people better than the ones they replaced and that is the end of that.

So well done Mexico City, and I hope it works out for you!

* Which in turn harks back to the opening scenes of Live and Let Die, thus possibly establishing a 'tradition' of their own…


Rich Tee said...

Reminds me of how some people laugh at those who state their religion as Jedi, but at the end of the day, the Bible is a story book and Star Wars is a story too. There is even a Bible film called "The Greatest Story Ever Told". L. Ron Hubbard cynically understood this principle when he founded Scientology

So stories - whether it is the Bible, Star Wars or Spectre - are the basis for a lot of important things. All that matter is legitimacy, and whether you have it or not.

Of course, the big question is, if I don't have legitimacy, how do I get it?

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, good points and good question. The trick is getting enough people to just do it, repeat it, believe in it until it snowballs.

Mike W said...

Rich Tee,

Agreed, you made me think of Minsky quote about money. 'Anyone can create money; it's getting it accepted that's the difficult bit'.


I always wondered if Hubbard had studied the Free Masons too. You know the multi levels of secrets, with only the 'chosen' (rich, plenty of time)at the top.