I was born in 1973 which means that seven of my years were spent in the seventies. My first memory was the summer of 1974. We lived in a trailer in south Texas. I remember one night, my parents were hosting a few friends. My twin and I each had little scoot tractors and were perilously riding them down the gravel driveway. Even at the age of 1 1/2, I must have been a Batman fan. My mom made me a Robin mask out of the rubber skin of a toy tom tom drum. It kept breaking and I kept coming in for her to fix it while the adults sipped coffee and laughed over adult stuff.
Most of my memories, however, occur after 1976 or so. See, this is the way I try to build a case for being a child of the seventies. I cite as many memories as I can. I have a memory of the Bee Gees on the radio. I got to shake Jimmy Carter while he was the president. I drank Tang. I watched Hanna Barbara cartoons on Saturday morning. I road a banana seat bike. I played outside for goodness sake!
But the truth is, I’m as much of a child of the 80s as I am the 70s. I take little pride in this. I admired the teens who had really lived the 70s. I’m not saying I want to be older now, but I wanted to be older then. And so, I have this strong yearning and misplaced nostalgia for teenage life in the seventies. I feel like I missed something glorious.
This is one of the reasons I like seventies slasher films. They all center around teenage life. Life seemed freer then. When Reagan became the president, the country became more conservative, more repressed. Girls were hotter in the 70s.
But it’s more than hotter girls. I’ve wasted hours youtubing commercials from the 70s. There’s just something about that time that I miss, not just because I was alive then, but because I wish I could’ve lived more of it.
Of course, by the time the 80s came along, we rejected everything about the 70s. The clothes looked ugly to us. Tight clothes with earth tones gave way to baggy clothes with primary colors. Hair got poofy. Disco was trash. Music became synthetic. The 70s didn’t become attractive again until a new generation was coming of age. Just like the 70s were obsessed with the 50s, the 80s and 90s were obsessed with the 60s, then the 2000s were obsessed with the 70s. And guess what, the 2010s are obsessed with the 80s.
The hard truth is that there’s no going back. I can watch old movies, and yes the movies are old now. I can watch old commercials, and listen to old music, but there is no returning. And there is no returning to youth. I’ve gotten as much of the 70s as I will ever get. I’ve written about the dangers of nostalgia here before. It takes you out of the present moment. It’s a kind of sickness. I always end up concluding that it is useless. I’m sure someone who really lived the 70s is thinking that I don’t know what I am talking about. Why would this guy want to live in that decade? Yuck! Now the 60s is when I would live!
My house is very much 90s and 2000s television obsessed. My wife and I are on our 4th run of Friends. My son and I have been binge-watching Frasier. He watches That 70s Show which is a double whammy. It’s a 2000s show about the 70s. Freaks and Geeks is popular in my house as well. It’s a 1999 show about 1980. It’s getting all mixed up! We are becoming a society who’s hunger and thirst for nostalgia cannot be sated.
So what are the 2010s? What is it about now that folks in the future will become obsessed with? A fashion trend? So much of the fashion is inspired by 70s and 80s. A music trend? There are new ideas, but the musical environment is different now. We have access to the entire history of music. Kids are listening to music from the entire last 100 years. There is very little looking back at previous ages with the disdain that I looked back on 70s. It’s a wider world. Perhaps we are becoming healthier, more accepting of ourselves as we pass from decade to decade.
But 2016 is where the now is. There is nothing more we can truly experience than now. We live in a truly marvelous age in many ways. And it’s an age in which there is nothing stopping me from integrating the good things about the 70s into my present life. There is an entire industry dedicated to bringing us vintage candy, tv, movies, music, clothing, and cars. But do I really want to be that guy?