I suppose for a lot of people anything that happened before their lifetime doesn't really matter. I came across two examples of this today, the second of which I'll address at length.
In the first instance Sports Illustrated's online edition had a list of the ten most memorable moments at the Wimbledon tennis championships. Wimbledon has held its tennis championships since the 1880's, yet Sports Illustrated is apparently of the opinion that nothing memorable happened until 1970. Evidently those first 80 years were pretty tedious.
The second list appeared in today's local rag, the San Francisco Chronicle and offered the 10 Best Screen Mobsters. Every single film gangster that this writer deems worthy of mention appeared in a film released in or after 192.. The same is true of the six runners up he offers. Evidently the author has heard of neither DVDs nor Turner Classic Movies.
This poor bloke has missed out on some stunning James Cagney performances. How else to explain his omissions of Cagney as Cody Jarrett in White Heat (1949) or Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)? He might also have considered Cagney as Rocky Sullivan in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) or as Eddie Bartlett in The Roaring Twenties (1939).
He's also evidently unaware of a certain fellow by the name of Bogart, Humphrey. He's thus been deprived of seeing such gangsters as Duke Manttee in Petrified Forest (1936), Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941), Bugs Fenner in Ballots or Bullets (1936) to name but a few.
Then there's Edward G. Robinson who played some pretty nasty gangsters himself. Because Eddie G had the bad luck to be born in 1893 and thus had a film career that was all but over by 1972, the author missed him playing Rico in Little Caesar (1931) (photo above), Johnny Sarto in Brother Orchid (1940) and Johnny Rocco in Key Largo (1948).
Am I making myself clear?
Here's the deal, I've named 10 gangsters using just three actors. You want me to name another ten from before 1970 using different actors? Go head and dare me.
No one who believes that the dawn of mankind was in 1970 should be taken seriously. Motion pictures have been entertaining us for about 100 years. To to make a list that purports to have the best of something yet totally ignores the first 60 years of that something's existence deserves nothing but contempt. And the same goes for SI's silly list which pretends that tennis legends like Don Budge, Althea Gibson and Bill Tilden didn't exist or that any match they were in had to be a yawner.
As someone who taught young people for 20 years I'm all too aware of the how little respect recent generations have had for the past. We need not only remember our political history but our social and cultural pasts as well. You want to fully understand and appreciate a sport, music, paintings, film or anything else, recognize if not study its past. I'll spare you a long winded spiel on how the past shapes the present because I'm hoping you know that. But before I step down from my soapbox I'll say that if a person makes an individual decision to enjoy only gifts from the present or very recent past that's their business and their loss. But to publicly ignore those blessings is an affront and needs to be called out.
"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity." - Cicero.