Monday, December 31, 2007

Blame It All on the '70s?

I was a wee lad in the seventies, but some of my memories involve waiting in gas lines, soldiers coming home from Vietnam in boxes, Nixon resigning, polyester pant suits, and shaggy sideburns.

According to Thomas Hine, reviewed by Anneli Rufus at Alternet, all our current problems can be blamed on the seventies.

If the left and right agree on almost nothing else, we agree at least on this: America's in terrible shape. Such shocking shape that -- how did we come to this? -- it might not actually survive.

And there our dialogue dissolves. The things about America you diagnose as lethal are the very things your megachurch-belonging cousin with the rifle rack in his truck prays might save its life. And vice-versa. Gay rights. Abortion rights. Prayer in the schools. Environmentalism. Corporations. Porn. There the shouting, and possibly shooting, begins.

How did we come to this? It's the '70s' fault, writes Thomas Hine in The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007), a richly if incriminatingly illustrated book about a traumatic "slum of a decade" in which "the country was running out of promise."

Well, the '60s were a hard act to follow.

"Only a decade before," Hine muses, "as the nation anticipated the conquest of space, the defeat of poverty, an end to racism and a society where people moved faster and felt better than they ever had before, it seemed that there was nothing America couldn't do." Flash-forward through Watergate, gas crises, helicopters escaping Saigon -- and "to live in the seventies was to live in a fallen world, one of promises broken and trust betrayed." Hine ticks off that decade's insults to heart, mind and eye: "The politicians were awful. The economy was awful. The insipid harvest gold and avocado kitchens were awful." Ditto gas lines, AMC Pacers, and pantsuits.

Nearly everyone who lived through those years would nod, flinching.

Read the rest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The above commentary got it all wrong. Mr. Hine is merely using the "negative aspects" of the Seventies as a stage. If you care to read the book (and not just an article about it), you will soon find out that Mr. Hine is deeply positive and affectionate about the Seventies.

You can't catch Buddha by looking into the mirror. Read the book, The Great Funk by Mr. Hine, and enjoy the pain, the joy and your own self-discovery along the way.