That 70s anachronism?

I happened to watch an episode of “That 70s Show” the other day, and the central plot revolved around Eric (the main kid) getting upset about his ex-girlfriend going to a motel with her new boyfriend. The girlfriend found out that Eric had gone to the motel to spy on her, and accused Eric of “stalking” her.

Now, I realize there were people who obsessed over ex’es and did wildly unappropriate things because of it back then. But IIRC, the term “stalking” (in the sense of chasing after a former lover) didn’t become common until the early '90s. I think it got to be a popular subject during the O.J. Simpson trial, and that’s about the time I first heard the word “stalker” used in this context. Is this an anachronism in the show, or was “stalking” (a former lover, that is; as opposed to say a hunter stalking a deer) a term in general use in the 1970s?

I’m not so sure about it being use in the '70s, but I remember an old SNL skit from the mid to late '80s about stalking, and they used that term.

That '70s Show is full of anachronisms. Usually props and the like. The two that come readily to mind would be Eric’s Spider-man sheets (they had the early '90s Spider-man logo), and a Krispy Kreme box Red was carrying to Lori’s new apartment.

I dunno but there was that serial killer dubbed “The Nightstalker” and that was fairly early 80s. That’s my own earliest memory of hearing the word stalker in a “predatory romantic” sense, but I was only about 7 at the time.

I think national attention on stalking increased greatly after the murder of tv actress Rebecca Schaeffer by Robert Bardo in 1989. This event exposed how easy it was to find a home address using government information. It also changed the image of the stalker from cute romantic eccentric to potentially violent obsessive.

I don’t know how I overlooked the 1972 tv movie The Night Stalker and the followup 1974 tv series: Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Darren McGavin plays reporter Carl Kolchak, investigating bizarre supernatural events in Chicago. Here, Kolchak stalks the weird nocturnal beasties; there’s no romantic connotation.

I remember the Rebecca Schaeffer incident. Actually, when I made my initial post, I had thought of Joseph Hinckley (who “stalked” Jodie Foster and shot Ronald Reagan in 1981 to impress her). But, in both cases, I don’t remember the term “stalker” being applied when the events actually happened. I just remember news stories about “stalking” in the early '90s mentioning both those incidents as famous examples of the syndrome after the fact. And still, both those events happened after the time period that “That 70s Show” takes place in.

As far as “the Night Stalker”, the tv series, that to me seems more likely inspired by the definition hunter pursuing prey. Like you said Prince, there’s no romantic (or perceived romantic) correlation.

And don’t Krispy Kreme donughts go back several decades in the south? At least, their stores are filled with signs boasting how they’ve been favorites “down south” since the '50s or '60s. Where does “That 70s Show” take place anyway?

OK just for clarity…

I’m referring to Richard Ramirez, not the television show.

Hmm hopefully I don’t need to start a “Serial Killers that, apparently, nobody but you remembers” thread. :wink:

I remember hearing the term used (in the “obsessed creep” sense) when I was in college, and I graduated in '83. The term “date rape” had come into use a short time earlier, and “serial killer” was pretty much coined for Son of Sam stories circa 1977.

All of these phenomena have been around since time immemorial, but that’s roughly the history of the terms.

That '70s Show takes place in Point Place (assumed to represent Kenosha) Wisconsin. Red would have had to travel a long way for those donuts.

The movie “Play Misty for Me” from 1971 had a stalker character, but I couldn’t tell if the term was ever used in the script. However, I found a 1968 short film titled “Stalked” in which the main character was, well, being stalked. It’s my guess the term was at least sometimes used in that context by that time.

Besides, looking for historical accuracy on That '70s Show is like looking for accuracy on the Internet. It’s there somewhere, but you don’t know where, and the odds are good it’s not where you think it is.

TellMeI’mNotCrazy: Alas, I have heard of, but am not as familiar with the Night Stalker as the others. I was actually responding to “Papermache Prince’s” post regarding the tv show. Still, that did occur in the '80s as well.

(Off the subject, but on a visit to San Francisco, I dropped in at ‘City Lights’ bookstore and picked up as a souvenir an independently published, oddball little book of poetry entitled “the Night Stalker Got Married” by Juliet Torrez. It’s worth seeking out if you ever go to SF!)


I’ll play!

I wouldn’t win, because I’m terrible at names, but I could be the one chiming in with, ‘She wasn’t throttled, she was garotted.’

“Stalker” was an innocuous-enough term in the 1970s that there was a DC comic book whose eponymous hero was The Stalker (Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood created it). While comics publishers are notoriously slow on hipster lingo, even they wouldn’t have knowingly used a title that referred to third-degree sex offenders.

Yep. Krispy Kremes didn’t make it to Wisconsin until late 2001.

Something I noticed, Eric’s Star Wars obsession extends beyond the original movie into ones that didn’t come out in the 70’s. Recently he seemed quite fond of Boba Fett. Oddly enough, however, in a later episode, he didn’t realize his pastor was really Lando Calrissian (but odder still, Rev. Lando was a HUGE Star Wars fan as well!) And one more Star Wars glitch, Eric attemps to educate Red about Star Wars figures, and he’s clearly showing him 90’s/00’s figures, not 70’s (or even 80’s figures).

Other things I’ve noticed… Drink cans have the modern “tapered” tops, when back then they were shaped more like standard cans used for soup, beans, etc. And one time they were eating popsicles that had plastic wrappers, and until a few years ago popsicles always came in paper wrappers.

Um… I think the point was that it was funny that they got Billy Dee Williams to play the Star Wars obsessed pastor. It’d be like having a '90s Show and having Keanu Reeves play a Matrix obsessed teacher or something.

Other mistakes:

• Kitty Forman using Best Foods brand mayonnaise, which is sold only west of the Mississippi.
• Flip-top tabs (vs. pull tabs) on cans of soft drinks.
• 8-oz. bottles of Coca-Cola, not distributed in Wisconsin in the 1970s.
• People not wearing heavy coats (hats, scarves, gloves, etc.) four months out of the year.

Oh . . . my pet peeve: The official website for That '70s Show and many of the show’s print advertisements repeatedly use of the word “groovy”. “Groovy” was very definitely a '60s word, and very definitely passé by the '70s. If anyone had used “groovy” in a non-ironic sense in the '70s, people would have laughed the person out the door.

I lived in Wisconsin for part of the run of That '70s Show, and the funniest thing I ever saw on the show was the episode where Red held his annual Veteran’s Day cookout and everyone was hanging out in the yard in nothing heavier than a long-sleeved t-shirt. I could perhaps believe that they happened to have an unusually warm November that year, but an annual Veteran’s Day cookout? In Wisconsin? It is to laugh.

I seem to remember another episode in which the gang went out to a frozen lake and one of the girls intentionally “forgot” her coat to test her boyfriend’s love for her. (She wanted him to let her wear his.) Why didn’t she just test him by tying herself to the train tracks or jumping off the water tower or something? I guess these Hollywood types don’t really understand the whole “winter” thing.

What bothered me more was that they apparently couldn’t even be bothered to look at a freakin’ map. The fictional town of Point Place seems to be in south-eastern Wisconsin, somewhere south of Milwaukee and near Kenosha. Chicago is close enough to drive to easily. However, so are Sheboygan and the Canadian border!

Hey, it’s a sitcom. I don’t expect perfection from it. I think other sitcoms are just as reality challenged. For example any sitcom set in New York where someone works in some menial job and lives alone in a large apartment.