Culture

Sucking in the Seventies

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Via Arts & Letters Daily comes this (UK) Times' reassessment of the most maligned decade of recent years, the 1970s. A snippet:

The full reassessment of the 1970s must, therefore, take into account two great truths. First, it was the age of transition from then to now. Battles were fought and won that made us who we are today. Some victories were benign – few now would argue against the liberation of gays and women, and environmentalism. Others were distinctly ambiguous – hyper-individualism has gone, everybody agrees, too far, though nobody knows how to restrain its excesses. Second, it was a period that produced a disproportionate share of the greatest art of the postwar period. Sam Tyler was right to leap off that building back into the era of Gene Hunt and Mark III Cortinas. It felt more alive. The 1970s had the [famously rotten car, the Austin] Allegro, but they weren't "shit-brown". They were golden.

Whole thing here. It's well worth reading, though it will be familiar to readers both of Tom Wolfe's seminal essay that coined the term "the Me Decade" (pdf!) and David Frum's anti-'70s history, How We Got Here.

And to readers of good old Suck, who were treated to this analysis of the decade that brought us, among other unimaginable marvels, Evel Knievel's pants-soiling personal Vietnam over Snake River Canyon and the best music from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones:

Intellectuals, artists, and architects, Wolfe notes, had always had great plans to "pygmalionize" the common man. "But once the dreary little bastards started getting money in the 1940's," [wrote Wolfe], "they did an astonishing thing – they took their money and ran! They did something only aristocrats (and intellectuals and artists) were supposed to do – they discovered and started doting on Me! They've created the greatest age of individualism in American history! All rules are broken!"

A quarter of a century after The Me Decade was so named, Wolfe's analysis is more relevant than ever: We are that much richer still, that much more all aristocrats now, and never less likely to heed the call of "remoralization" emanating from a wealthy Beltway pundit. (Indeed, judging from the lukewarm reception of Wolfe's A Man in Full and its weak sales vis a vis The Bonfire of the Vanities, we don't even give a shit what that old windbag has to say anymore.) For some of us, that may be cause for concern. But for the vast, overwhelming majority, it's only cause to dig out that old Kool and the Gang 8-track from 1980 and celebrate the new world order.

More in that jugular vein here.