out with the old, in with the new

For our last week of lecture, I thought that the most interesting and intriguing thing that we discussed was the film, What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? because of the juxtapositions scattered throughout the film. After cycling through different opinions on whether or not London should improve and progress towards a more modern future, we come to a halt where London does not seem to be able to move forward anymore, even with attempts that make it seem so.

As Mervyn cycles through East London, specifically Lea Valley, it is apparent that this part of the city is run down and abandoned, mostly because it was the site for the Olympic Village. What I thought was interesting was how the people who lived there were more excited for the area to get revamped than worried that their home would be gone, but in a way, that’s exactly what financial investors wanted in the long run. The area was first for industry, and for that to be wiped out shows the progressive future and how the insurance buildings and capitalism were taking over.

When we see Mervyn on the abandoned cricket field, we see this juxtaposition of the old and new. Cricket is a classic sport that goes back ages, and in the full shot, the skyline of the city meets the cricket field. This juxtaposition of the old and new make me feel like there isn’t really a difference in between the two, and we’ve come to a point where these two worlds just meld together.

After coming so far in time and wanting to see this progressive movement to a more modern London, we reach a point where we finally get a taste of that, but in a way, it’s strange to think that it’s the end and there isn’t any way we can progress more. After Lea Valley was taken apart to build the Olympic Village, the Olympic Village of course had tons of publicity and attraction because it needed to be flashy and new, which is also a reason that London would want to get rid of run down Lea Valley and put up the Olympic Village. Everything was about appearance, and London needed a way to throw away this abandoned area and make it better.

However, it brings up a question of how it would help the people of London in the long run, and the answer is that it truly can’t. What used to be the slums and where the cheap housing was, was turned into this high scale village that was used once, and financial investors jumped on it right after to make money in this bit city of London. People that need housing cannot afford to live there, and it essentially just sits empty. After all of the hard work that they put into making it a classier place, no one inhabits the space because of the price tag.

London’s Olympic Village today.

Nowadays, the Olympic Village has been modified and has become one of the most urban areas, one where many come because of the hype. It’s taken time for this to develop and become what it is today, but I’m glad to see that there’s still room for improvement after it seemed like it was impossible in the film. The ways in which the city are progressing are numerous, whether it be with social issues or affordable housing, and I’m glad to see that London is still taking initiative to work for a better future, even after being stuck in a rut.

London has gone through so many phases throughout this quarter, first being stuck in circular time to going through linear time and back to circular time and being held back from moving forward again, I’m interested in seeing if this is the pattern that a normal city goes through, and I’m very glad that I took this class as it gave me a better sense of the city and its development, and shows that the progress has come a long way since, only to be continuing to create a better future.


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