“These were very social stories. They were about people who work together, failing and triumphing, loving and hating each other… and this is what we need right now more than ever… They remind us that, moving forward, we don't need just any moving images… We need ones with actual people in them, sharing space, getting up in each other's shit, reminding us what it means to be human.”
That's film academic Huw Walmsley-Evans on the importance of moviemaking, crystallised—to his mind, as much as to mine—more than ever by our current situation, which you'll find on page 82. When the proverbial actually hit the fan—for me, living in Sydney, Australia at the time, back in very early March—and we all filled our evenings and weekends by watching Netflix instead of heading to the beach (or, more frankly, the pub), I emailed Huw immediately. What'll happen when we run out of movies? As he recounts in his excellent essay, it seems a lot of people were struck by the very same thought, and the panic is valid. Films form a sort of cultural fabric in our lives, telling us the stories that validate our existence.
The piece of Huw's that I paraphrase, of course, could be applied to much of our life right now. I, for one, have Zoom'd as much as is humanly possible. But as Huw details in his piece, what this period has forced us to do, in no uncertain terms, is to change. To innovate, assimilate, alternate and originate. We find ourselves in a new place where our ways of living and working just six months ago have changed irrevocably, and we have no option but to move with the times. Certainly, there'll come a time—next year, perhaps—when things settle back to the way we once knew them. But so much of what we've learned this past half-year—whether that's working from home, or learning to cook, or further digitising our shopping habits—will become part of our new normal, too.
We've taken that as the theme of this issue, this new world order. There's no denying the incredible impact this pandemic has had on our lives—those most vulnerable in society even more so—but we've chosen to seek out the creative possibilities that are born from change. In that vein, we've compiled a special feature —revamping a vintage Esquire staple, What We're Learning—that brings together a host of first-person perspectives on this most unique period and the artistic fruits it bears. There's hope, passion, excitement, frustration and exhilaration—often in equal parts—at their fullest in these emotional responses.
But looking forward to the next thing is important, too, after such an extended period of introspection. Josh Sims takes us speedily into the future with his piece, on page 60, about the return of sonic flight. I was too young (and certainly never wealthy enough) to have crossed the Atlantic by Concorde prior to its demise, and while I've never had a specifically urgent need to get from New York to London in three hours, the idea seems thrillingly stylish. That flying faster than the speed of sound is merely a few years off of returning to commercial availability is cause to remember that just about anything is possible.
Speaking of change, there's a new face in the Esquire Singapore team. I'm honoured to have inherited the reins of this most esteemed publication and am cognisant of the responsibility that this title carries. This being my first issue, I hope it offers a glimpse of what more is to come and keeps you entertained and inspired for the month ahead.