Generation Why? 1.02 – Polaroid


Polaroid Camera

Polaroid Camera




Shake it like a Polaroid Picture

Thus sang Andre 2000 in the song “Hey Ya!” and most of us got the gist of how exactly he wanted us to shake it. I remember seeing a polaroid camera for the first time. I must have been six or seven and it was a present giving moment at my grandparents’ home in Victoria (that’s Gozo). My guess is it emust have been October when my brother and cousins share birthdays within the space of a week. So, gifts were being exchanged (among which were such delectable gadgets as Speak and Math and BigTrak as well as Aquaman, Superman and Wonderwoman cut outs) and the inevitable photograph was snapped.

It was the time when photo developers for reasons beknownst only to themselves would develop most photos in tints and shades of purple. Wallflower wallpaper and paisely dresses would add to the general pornographic allure of the not so hippy and not disco drag of the post-70s trauma in which Malta was frozen thanks to the socialist ideas of advancement. It was also thanks to the need to licence anything – even your toothbrush – that gadgetry was hard to find. I mean us kids where thrilled with a set  of Walt Disney felt tip pens (can you imagine the power of Disney in a world still full of stationers selling Chinese made stationery with ducks, and straw hatted men decorating most pencilboxes?).

It was only thanks to “iz-zijiet tal-ingriterra” (the uncles and aunties of England) that we got to see such gadgetry as mentioned above. It was also thanks to them that we got to see the polaroid in action. It was like a space-age thing. Snap, The photo was taken and after a few seconds recovering your sight following the exaggerated flash you watched the photo slip out of the machine slowly, very slowly. Then an adult would take aforementioned photo in hand and with the look of a professional polaroid operator shake the said paper as enthusiastically as an old lay operating her fan on festa night.

It was of such a movement that andre 2000 sang in his song. In a short phrase he gave us a very clear picture of what kind of shake he had in mind. Only thing is not all of his listeners might be old enough to remember what he is on about. That is one of the incredible hidden stories behind the development of gadgetry. How many children of today know what it means to be ordered by their dad to get up and switch channel from Rai to TVM? Do they remember a remoteless world? No. Just like many of them would have no idea how to shake it like a polaroid picture! 

Our parents and grandparents spoke of “traditions”. In essence some of them where “habits of circumstance”. Now we of Generation X can begin to feel old to. Because we too can speak of things that Generation Y can never begin to understand. Not unless they turn into retro geeks of course. 

Do you remember any everyday gadget that is no longer with us. Please leave a comment by pressing on the comment button… gently as though it was your scalextric controller!


One response to “Generation Why? 1.02 – Polaroid

  1. Fausto Majistral

    The videotape rewinder.

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