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I am a child of the 70s
It took me a long to time to accept this fact. I mean, who wants to admit that disco was an important influence on their life? But, it's true. I'm part of that lost generation that was too late for "Howdy Doody" and too early for "Sesame Street". The fact that I spent my adolescent and teen-age years in the 70s colors (mostly in earth tones) my view of life. So now that I have 'come out' as a child of the 70s, here are some of my thoughts on them.
70s Style Explained
Much has been written lately about how bad 70s fashions were, and the consensus of most of the writers of such articles is that the entire country was hallucinating at the time. I have done some research into this issue and have discovered that the truth is stranger.
First, you must remember that the 70s followed 1969. While that fact may seem obvious, there is significance in that year that most people miss. 1969 was the year of the Stonewall riots, which started the Gay liberation movement. Suddenly it was the duty of every gay man to do something for Gay rights. The early 1970s saw an explosion of gay-owned businesses, bars, resorts, publications, etc.
Next, remember the stereotype that the fashion, furniture, and architecture industries have a large percentage of gay men in their ranks.
Third, remember that the stereotypical gay man has a highly developed sense of humor and likes to do things on a grand scale.
Put these facts together and you begin to understand what happened in 70s: Large numbers of gay men left the fashion, furniture, and architecture industries to create gay-owned businesses, bars, resorts, publications, etc. And of course, their last creations before leaving the style industries were meant to be jokes. This meant that the fashion, furniture, and architecture were left in the hands of the unskilled, with only an exiting queen's joke to guide them.
Thus was created shag carpeted walls, dome homes, bean bag chairs in primary colors, platform shoes, earth tone polyester leisure suits, with faux silk shirts and ascots.
Unfortunately, the joke continues today: have you seen what Generation X is wearing?
70's Culture Explained
Blame it on the 60s. After spending the 60s protesting everything under the sun, America needed a break. America needed media that didn't require thinking. Enter soft rock, disaster movies, and Norman Lear and Grant Tinker sitcoms. Soft rock was music that you could listen to without paying attention to. For example, does anyone really understand the lyrics of any song by "America"? The horse has no name, but does anybody really care? (Was that a line from a "Chicago" song?) Quick, quote any witty line from "Towering Inferno". Discuss any character development in "Posieden Adventure" or any socially important theme in "Love, American Style".
Remember, those are images that shaped the minds of my generation. Explains a lot, right? But more importantly, there is still an important unanswered question from the 70s that my generation is still struggling with: "Was the media so bad because people were taking so many drugs, or did people take so many drugs because the media was so bad?".
If the 60s motto was "Make Love, not War", then the 70s motto was "Love to Love You Baby". With faith in American institutions gone (cross reference Watergate), and everyone mellowing out, disco philosopy moved in to fill the void. For those of you who think "disco" and "philosopy" are antonyms, I submit the following disco lyrics: "Last night a DJ saved my life", "More, more, more, how do you like it?", "Young men, there's a place you can go when you're down on your dough", "Lookin' for some hot stuff tonight". According to the disco philosophy, all your problems could be solved by a good night of dancing and sex. Come to think of it, there was less violence in our cities then.
The worst is yet to come
I have finally come to grips with growing up in the 70s and plan to start a "70s Pride" celebration someday. In the mean time, I have seen what has happened to the generational icons from the baby boomers and I am a little concerned about the future. It's not getting old that bothers me, it's how the 70s will be marketed to us in our middle age. Here's what I foresee:
Chill man, just like the 70s, this page didn't really happen. Come back to reality now.
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This page, and all contents, are Copyright (C) 1997 by Steve Heyl, Denver,CO, USA.