culture

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by Wumbology, Apr 27, 2014.

  1. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    So, in the Fallout universe, the world never culturally developed past the 50's or 60's. That's why Fallout has it's retro-futuristic aesthetic.
    However: is it reasonable to assume that the pre-war culture was not a direct continuation of the 50's? If you begin to consider to the timescale of Fallout, then the idea that American culture and fashion stayed (mostly) the same is... absurd. From the splitting of the timeline in 1940-something to the war there's nearly a 120-year time difference. I mean, that's as if it were popular to wear tricorn hats and leggings in the 1900's.

    Can we assume that the art-deco aesthetic and style that was popular in America before the war (War?) was a culture revival? Can we also assume that American culture in the Fallout universe might have followed other trends?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2014
  2. thenightgaunt

    thenightgaunt First time out of the vault

    94
    Jun 7, 2007
    I thought that it was actually a revival of stereotypical 50's society during the prewar era rather than a major deviation in the timeline from the real world. Kind of like how we've had 70's and 80's fashion come back from time to time.
     
  3. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite

    Jul 26, 2003
    The timeline actually does deviate pretty significantly, starting right after WWII. As far as the culture goes, though, that's pretty up-in-the-air. I think the best answer depends on how you regard the pre-war world. Lately, the franchise has been paying it a good deal of conscious attention, and if you want to regard the beforetimes as solid, discoverable, realistic, and consequential, "cultural revival" makes the most sense.

    Originally, the past was more of a backdrop, where details like cultural history were just kind of implicitly handwaved with "this is a 50s World Of Tomorrow pastiche." The whole point of the setting was that humanity had risen to such heights and then lost it all with such suddenness and severity that most knowledge of the past was reduced to hearsay and trivial scraps; that of all they achieved with their conspicuous consumerism and Godlike hubris, little of it survived and none of it mattered.

    You'll notice that with very few exceptions in Fallout and Fallout 2, no one had much hard, reliable information to offer on the time before the war, and when they did it was usually something very specific to their area of interest. The past was just a legend of Babel fallen and a fog for long-slumbering titans to occasionally emerge from, and exploring the details too thoroughly was not only unnecessary, but detracted from the core intent. Under that way of looking at things, the best answer is grounded more in the 50s culture the game's setting was conceived around rather than in the setting itself. 50s sci-fi was very grounded in this sense of America Ascendant. Culturally, not much was often depicted as having changed in the time elapsed between the current era and the World of Tomorrow-- why should it change? We were the best damned nation in the world, and we were already the future. Risen to the top of the heap as God and Nature intended. We were doing everything right, and we were on the doorstep of a golden age, with our new faith in science and industry and our never-say-die, never-think-of-the-consequences optimism constantly driving us towards our inevitable technological utopia. The future would be much as the (then-)present because culturally, modern America was the logical, plastic-fantastic society humanity should be shooting for anyway, and all that was left was to smoke cigars and read the Post in front of I Love Lucy while we waited for our cure-all pills and our rocket cars.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  4. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    Well, first off, I would just like to say that I consider the American 50's the US golden age (except for the racial intensity going on that decade).

    Now, back on topic. The Fallout universe does kind of make it clear in some cases that once the 50's started... they really never stopped. However, what I have noticed is that while Fallout is mainly biased toward the 50's, it also seems to be a mash up of the 40's, 50's, 60's, and toward the Great War a bit of the 70's. With all the peace protesting we were seeing, rise of hippy culture, and new music from the early 60's the (Fallout) developers were introducing, I think its safe to assume that at the time around and before the Great War, America was undergoing a cultural transformation. The fact was that the United States wasn't this 50's golden apple pie and gas-chugging chryslus age anymore. America's 50's culture was beginning to transform into the 60's. We are beginning to see less confidence and respect in/for the United States government, a new music wave is coming in, and sadly (mostly to the America "die-harders" (sic)), overall America was changing.

    We see this in many places. If Fallout 3 is or isn't canon to you, I'm going to point this out anyways. In the BOS Citadel (actually the Pentagon) you can find computer terminals of the Pentagon and CIA spying on their own people and trying to change their way of thinking about America through music, television, and other media outlets by incorporating "American Patriotism" all over the fucking place. We see peace (and other) protests going on all over the nation. Take a look at the Hidden Valley bunkers in NV. There are also some nods to 60's culture in Fallout 1 and 2. We even see a nod to the British Invasion (I think) at one point.

    Going back a little bit, we also see music and culture from the 40's. So it can be assumed that the United States does undergo cultural transformation, however it just might take extremely long.

    However what we can probably expect never changed after the 50's hit America, is the American style of government, infrastructure and design (take the REPCONN Rockets for example, or the Y-17 Trauma Harness Suits). Basically, the largest of aspects in American society and government revolved around the 50's, and might have stayed that way if the Great War hadn't arrived.
     
  5. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    BigBoss, that's just not possible. Look at how much America changed from the 20's to the 50's. In thirty years time, you went from America near-collapse where the Federal Government was hated and practically never seen. The roaring twenties were very liberal, centered around swing made by black artists and loose culture values, even loose gender roles. A far cry from the christian, white, and oppressive 50s, which were ruthlessly individualistic and valued the middle-class nuclear family as good consumers, while also being unsubtly intervensionist for largely economic reasons (bay of pigs invasion anyone?)

    I mean... are you sure the 50s were a golden age? Really?

    Yamu, you seem to believe that exploring pre-war society would go against the point of Fallout. Do you feel the old world should stay a mystery?
     
  6. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite

    Jul 26, 2003
    Without getting too wordy (hopefully), yes, mostly, though the real answer would be closer to an essay-length "sort of". Exploration of the past has provided us with some of the best moments in the series (piecing together The Master's tragic arc, seeing the juxtaposition of The Brotherhood's official record and Maxson's diary, delving into Vault 11 and the Survivalist's logs...), but it has to be done selectively-- perhaps hinted at or alluded to here or there, but seldom made concrete or brought into focus unless the story would be enriched by it.

    I feel that the past is best used (apart from a source of big bads) as a contrast or source of occasional color to the wasteland, and the more it's allowed to seep into the presentation of things, the more it loses its mystique and its power to inspire foreboding. It blurs with the present (2200s) culture and becomes mundane. Historically speaking, not a lot of time has passed since the near-absolute destruction of human civilization, both physically and societally, but with each new game it's feeling less like the old world was smashed to bits and more like postwar humanity is wearing it around like its father's patchy, ill-fitting dinner jacket.

    (Don't get me wrong-- I thoroughly enjoyed both newer games, and New Vegas even did a decent job of justifying itself on the accounts in question, but it doesn't change the fact that there are no more monsters in Fallout, nothing you'd readily call a forbidding ruin rather than a "pre-war government facility," no (two-headed) dragons at the edge of the map. And I hardly feel I've met a person since I left Vault 101 who wouldn't know what "Instant Spaghetti" was.)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
  7. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    Van Buren was very much an exploration into the past of the Fallout universe, and would have been an incredible game (rest in peace), so I have no doubt that a Fallout title can walk the line between there being too much of the old world and too little.

    (one of the things I never got about Fallout 1 was the lack of old-world culture. It's set around LA and Bakersfield- always felt odd to me that the Boneyard was so nondescript, despite LA being the culture capital of the USA.)

    Disagree. The monsters, as I see it, are just in different clothes- the BoS and the Master were direct products of old-world ethics, of old-world technology- but the monsters now are indirect. The NCR is a reincarnation of everything that lead to the end of the world. The Legion draws from even further back. Victor Presper, too, was a revival of something ancient.

    House is definitely the monster (if you choose for him to be), and I'd say the Lucky 21 is definitely a "foreboding ruin". The two-headed dragons are just more ideological than they were in Fallout 1 or 2.
     
  8. Emperor

    Emperor Simplesmente Rajuma

    393
    Aug 4, 2013
    What I understood of the culture of the old world was that it started/based on 50s with all the dreams and terrors it had but it didn't stagnated. It started developing further with some additions from other decades and by the end it was something unique with some characetics from its roots
     
  9. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    304
    Dec 11, 2013
    Having played New Vegas before I played FO1, this was very striking to me. In particular, I was really surprised at the way Shady Sands was portrayed in Fallout, and had a hard time linking it to the way the NCR appeared in NV. In fact, the way the NCR developed is probably my biggest gripe with the entire series.

    To me, it just doesn't make sense that a tribal village with seemingly no old world knowledge and a unique culture and mythology (references to "Dharma", for example, which seem to have been dropped after FO1) would within a generation or two adopt the political and social structures of the Old World and do it in such a way that they appear like a continuation of the US government.

    While I love New Vegas, I think it would have been more interesting for the series if Shady Sands had developed into a society with less obvious reliance on the institutions of the Old World, and if their expansion had come much more slowly and intermittently.

    As it now stands, I agree with Yamu that the West Coast has well and truly lost both its post-apocalyptic atmosphere and the sense of mystery surrounding the Old World. I think it's at the point where they really do need to make the nuke strikes at the end of Lonesome Road canon, or at least do something to otherwise "wipe the slate clean".
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  10. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    Oh, Dharma. To digress a little bit from the original subject, wasteland culture is Fallout 1 was distinctly multicultural. I'm not sure which writer was responsible, but between the track Trader's Life, Shady Sand's racial diversity; the Khan's weird neo-mongol thing; the various character descriptions; The Hub's "near-eastern bazaar" feel... I think it's obvious that Tim Cain or some writer wanted a very cultural, near-eastern wasteland. This was relegated to tribals in later Fallout games, leaving the NCR really white. I really hope some future game mentions or shows a Church of Dharma or something, just to bring back that feel.

    I love the NCR. They're a really good commentary on what went wrong with pre-war america. It's not the most natural development of Shady Sands, but I think NV portrayed a development from "dusty frontier town" to "capitalist, industrial giant" pretty well. Fallout 2 portrayed it clumsily, though.
     
  11. Emperor

    Emperor Simplesmente Rajuma

    393
    Aug 4, 2013
    Now this is where I think where the Followers are introduced in the chains of events, from trade routes to cultural exchange the knowledge of the library probably reached Shady Sands and may the reason for the sudden old world knowledge. Maybe Tandi or someone of equal power had acees to the books and worked to implement them on the society, probably thinking that would be the best course of action for the whole faction.
     
  12. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    It doesn't make any sense because you associate Shady Sands with tribals. You missed the culture of the village when you played Fallout 1 if you think that, since several of its inhabitants express very plainly that they don't like being looked down upon because they live in "mud huts". You can see the difference in culture from one person to the next if you compare a father with his own daughter, specifically Aradesh and Tandi. Aradesh appears to be almost stereotypically Indian while Tandi comes off as a very Sourth Californian Valley girl. Shady Sands is not a "tribal" culture as much as it is multicultural, and that was deliberate as part of the story/setting/plot. Later on in the game it's explained why, and elaborated upon in FO2 and the FO Bible: Vault 15's social experiment was cramming 1000 people of VASTLY different cultural backgrounds to see what would happen, what kinds of friction would arise between peoples of such drastically different background, and unexpectedly everything worked out for all of the occupants... Until the structural supports catastrophically failed and the Vault caved in (one of the game's many "dark humor" jokes, because the Vault Catalog so cheerfully assured that it was safe from any earthquake damage). The result of the Vault collapsing was the inhabitants fleeing into the Wasteland to form 4 separate groups: the raider bands the Vipers, Jackals, and Kahns, and the village of Shady Sands, the latter of which being the only "peaceful civilization" of the four.

    So, as a result, Shady Sands was, like the Vault where its people came from, a very culturally diverse settlement, NOT "tribal". Like Vault City, Shady Sands was one of the few settlements founded by Vault Dwellers, so that's why, decades later, it erupted into a monolith of Old World power and values. Each game emphasized that the focal points of civilized advancement in the wasteland was always around some kind of "resource". In the Hub's case it was water, in Adytum's case it was the Vault they originated from, and in the Follower's case it was the library. Obviously Adytum was one of the more advanced settlements in FO1, the Followers were one of the most educated groups, and the Hub was the most prosperous place in the Core Region. Vault City would demonstrate 80 years later how advanced a settlement could be when it had Pre-War tech at its disposal from the Vault they emerged out of, so it shouldn't serve as any surprise that Shady Sands was no different. They WERE excavating Vault 15 resources up until a few months/years before the Chosen One's arrival, after all (which was only stopped because of the squatters keeping them away and the New Kahns orchestrating the whole thing), and on top o that they were being assisted by the Brotherhood in their technological developement.

    Add to that the NCR was founded by Shady Sands but populated by several city states that were not Shady Sands, and you can clearly see why the NCR, generations later, seemed "so white". The PEOPLE always were, but the cultural center where it all started was much more diverse.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  13. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite

    Jul 26, 2003
    I was wrangling with my usual ten paragraphs over here, but SnapSlav seems to have said most of it better in the meantime. Given the already diverse backgrounds of the village's population at groundbreaking, I think Dharma's place as the village's central philosophy would probably be nominal, due as much to its being venerated by their leader (and his forefathers before him, all the way back to the village founder) and its happening to suit their insular agrarian lifestyles as to actual devotion. Villagers of Shady Sands, more than anything else, seem rooted in watching out for their own, looking to their leaders, and trying to live upright lives, which is all still very observable in NCR as of Fallout 2, even if their moral character has naturally gotten a little more diluted with the rise of urban life and their uprightness has been codified and thrust upon their neighbors.

    Given how much the village seemed to look to and rely on central authority, I imagine that once Tandi started influencing things her (would-be) worldly inclinations and drive to expand beyond her small-town limitations would have even more effect than one might expect on the shape of their culture and their policy. The way I see it, Fallout 2's NCR basically IS Tandi: The Republic-- tenacious, ambitious, irritating, and mostly good, if a bit self-centered and lacking in long-term perspective. New Vegas' NCR is what happens when such a republic loses the only figure that has the unopposable cache to keep it on rails.

    (A side note: there's some wiggle room in the timeline here, as Fallout 1 has the village founded by a "great ancestor" of Aradesh but the FO Bible places its founding a scant forty years before the first game, meaning Aradesh would probably only be a second-generation scion, third at the outside. If we're to hold the bible as canon here, Shady Sands' culture hadn't had the length of a single human lifespan to set down roots before the events that turned its eyes outward and began its transition into the NCR. This, taken with the above, would make the significant drift of their culture and its homogenization into "wasteland standard" a bit more explicable. That's honestly more logical apologism than anything else, though-- I'd love to see some evidence of Shady Sands' original culture living on into the present-day wastes.)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  14. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    I got a kick out of this part:
    ..........

    Not necessarily. Remember that human lifespan is closely tied to technological advancement, and all of that was practically reset the closer to the Great War you get. Even with the resources that the original settlers could have taken with them from Vault 15, a mere 20 years after the bombs fell would mean that the first citizens of Shady Sands had to cope with background radiation (remember that it was coming out only 10 years later that led to the populace of Vault City being rendered sterile after a few generations) on top of the elements, and the far more demanding rigors of wasteland living exausting their medical supplies. I wouldn't be surprised if human life expectancy, even in Shady Sands, was reset to practically medieval standards, where making it to your 30s was "old age". In that case, it's entirely possible that Aradesh was the 4th or even 5th generation of Shady Sands' founder, albeit that is being generous with the possibilities and assumptions of how old the founder was and when the founding exactly took place.
     
  15. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    304
    Dec 11, 2013
    Yes, exactly - you picked up on and articulated exactly what I was trying to say better than I could. My point wasn't so much that Shady Sands was tribal in a pejorative or primitive sense (I subscribe to Joshua Graham's definition of "tribe", IMO one of the best bits of dialogue from Honest Hearts), but rather that it had elements that are now associated in the later games exclusively with "tribals" (i.e. the Khans).

    What I was trying to say was that there is a kind of "Asian desert" theme which is pervasive in FO1. It's not so much about the racial composition of Shady Sands or even the Wasteland as a whole as much as it's about the feel of the culture and setting. There wasn't a very direct connection to Old World American culture at all in the early games (FO1 in particular), and this is something I never would have guessed until I played them.

    Oh don't get me wrong, the NCR's got a lot of good folk in it - uh, I mean, I agree, I think their portrayal in New Vegas fits the theme and the setting perfectly, and they are an excellent foil for Mr. House, the Followers and the Legion. I just have a hard time thinking of them as originating in that little village from FO1.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  16. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    Its kind of like thinking the United States all originated from the suffering colony of Jamestown, or if you want to fast forward, the colonies.
     
  17. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    304
    Dec 11, 2013
    Interesting - I never thought of it like that, although I suppose the parallels should have been obvious. Thanks for that.
     
  18. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    stick in the mud- that's totally false, a myth perpetrated by the american school system. The thing that skews European medieval lifespan *averages* is the mortality rate for children. If you lived to adolescence, your life expectancy was 60-70. Medieval europeans did not have absurdly short lifespans (nor did they live perpetually abused by cruel feudal warlords). Aradesh was most definitely the second or third leader of Shady Sands.

    Yeah. You have to consider Shady Sands is only one part of five or so cities that were statehoods during Fallout 2- the first being Junktown. Shady Sands was a critical component but the political/economic background of the NCR stems from many places- amongst them the trade moguls of the Hub.
     
  19. RetroAmerica

    RetroAmerica It Wandered In From the Wastes

    196
    Feb 18, 2014
    The problem with exploring the Pre-War world of Fallout is that the timeline of Fallout is so ambiguous and often times contradictory that creating a coherent timeline would require a full reboot of the franchise.

    After all, if Fallout were an extension of the 50's(culturally) as Bethesda would like us to believe, then why are there no restrooms set aside between "White" and "Colored" or how could a film like "Silence of the Lambs"(referenced in Fallout 2) ever be released in a society which if again we're going by Bethesda's logic is permanently stuck in a 1950's mindset.

    For the most part, the past should be left alone as a mystery, since digging it up only makes for much more inconsistency and besides at the end of the day, knowing about Fallout's past simply acts as filler, and really adds nothing to the overall story.
     
  20. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    Or a full reboot of Fallout 3...