What the Hell Was Wrong with People in the 1970's?

I think I found a question that could conceivably fit in any forum but I will put it here.

I was born in 1973 but that is a little young to assume much responsibility. I already know about the big stuff. I am interested in the mass hysteria that seems to have affected everyone around that time. Why was every single thing made to be ugly as possible during that time? You look at everything from clothes to cars to hairstyles to home decor and people before and after that time will almost universally agree that most things were hideous. My parents put in a yellow, avocado green and bright orange kitchen into our house when we built it in 1977. They would never consider doing that today. I know, every period has its odd styles. However, I don’t think that anyone will ever look at photos from say 1995 and burst into hysterics. Likewise, photos from the 1940’s look different but rather elegant and charming. Who caused all this in the 1970’s and why did people go along with it?


Fondue Pots. It was all caused by Fondue Pots. Well maybe beanbag chairs also.
If it is any consolation the hairstyle of the 30 somethings was pretty horrible in the 60’s. Ever see a Beehive hair do? They really existed and were usually combined with Polyester printed dresses.
I would say that buried under Pop culture, the 70’s had some very good stuff.
The Chevy Camaro was a great car, not as good as the 60’s Camaro, but still a very good car. Led Zeppelin and Floyd was a great counter balance to the evils of Disco and Barry Manilow.
The House decorating was hideous, my parents had Harvest Gold plastic molded Kitchen chairs. A Dark Paneled wall with an Electric hanging fireplace. Olive Green Stove and Fridge and the piece de Resistance, peptobismal pink painted bathroom walls.


I was about to post Drugs but Rufus Xavier beat me to it.

Between all that hair and all that polyester, I suspect that most of the population was overheated to the point of reduced brain function, even *before * you added in the drugs.

The people decorating those house were only on Martini’s and Valium. The kids were doing the good drugs. :wink:

I dunno. In many ways the 60s seemed pretty weird and often ugly, and looks to me to be much more dated than most other decades before or since. I think the 70s response to all that flower power stuff was, “Hey, that 60s hippy shit looks pretty stupid and dated, and we were ALL doing it, and the 50s leather jackets and brylcreem look is the same, and we were ALL doing that at the time. Let’s not go for a particular “look” for once, and see what happens.” This would explain the “Me” generation, and also, ironically, put some truth into the quip you often hear about the 70s: the decade that style forgot.

Personally, I don’t think it was all ugly. The cars got uglier into the 80s, the hairstyles arguably did too (I mean take a mullet compared to an oversized afro - the mullet is ugly, the afro might more accurately be called just stupid). The orange and brown everything was a bit awful, but some of the architecture rocked - I love the 70s “raw internal brick, rough wooden beams, and glass” housing look, as an example. I also have a soft spot for some of the in-your-face grey concrete civic buildings. We probably can’t excuse the wide collars and tight shirts though - they DID suck. Some excellent music from the time, though.

I think the “let’s poke fun at the 70s” idea is about fifteen years out of date. I remember it being the basis for a lot of comedy routines circa 1989, but I think people have realised since that that decade had its share of pretty good stuff. A lot of crap too, mind, but the 70s weren’t alone in that.

I think I’ve posted this before, but I love this story:

About three or four years ago, the Sydney Morning Herald published a small piece in its light-hearted Column 8 which described a time capsule message from a long-suffering 1970s husband. A couple had bought a flat which had been built in 1972. The new owner was steaming off some atrocious 1970s orange wallpaper, and he uncovered a message written on the wall underneath, thirty years previously: *“So you didn’t like it either. It’s shit, isn’t it?” :smiley:

And, from Mr. Lileks,


Go through the whole thing.

:eek: :smiley: :eek: :smiley: :eek: :smiley:

I’m going to say, the fumes from silk-screening all of those anti-war posters. (Well, that’s what was happening at my house in 1973).

I suspect that a lot of it was a desire to do anything at all differently from how one’s parents did it. Just a WAG, though.

Me, I would live in the 70s in a heartbeat if somebody gave me a time machine. Some of the hairstyles and fashion trends of the 70s were actually quite awesome, and “retro” stores make a good amount of money selling them to people born in the mid-80s like me. Ever notice how many companies use all-lowercase letters in their logos? Looks good, don’t it? That came from the 70s (I think). Baseball jerseys looked better then. My mom had a very 70s art piece, all in that dark orange everyone loved back then, of a cat laying on a checkerboard, which looked awesome. 70s cars looked way better than 80s cars, and for that matter so did 70s hair. I for one think nothing says “badass” like a giant afro.

Bolding mine.

I agree about the hair. The biggest problem with the 60s and 70s was all that hair… and no product. But then came gel, and for a while, it got even worse. People in the 80s treated hair gel the way a toddler will treat chocolate, if you let him. No idea of when to stop.

We seem to be having a late-50’s/early 60’s design revival. So many shades of brown, so little time. And I’m pretty sure I saw a cushion at Target that featured the exact same print of clusters of concentric circles that appeared on the first edition of Irvin Yalom’s Group Psychotherapy book (http://www.pandora.ca/pictures22/157769.jpg).

Sure, there’s a huge retro-vogue market for it now, but I think most of that is nostalgic rather than aesthetic; people think it looks cool now both because it suggests a “simpler” time (the past always looks simpler), and because of the retro-comic attitude: “I’m wearing something incredibly ugly, and yet I am displaying my own coolness by not laughing.”

There’s also the “grown-up” aspect; those of us who grew up in the 70s (I was born in '71) didn’t know at the time how god-awful the styles were, and moreover, they were worn by the men we grew up hoping to emulate.

Images of masculinity (and femininity, of course) get rooted pretty deeply in a child’s psyche: shirts open to the navel, oversized sunglasses, and big, bristling, porn-star moustaches were powerful symbols of machismo to us youngsters of the day, and it’s only natural, now that we Gen-Xers are pretty solidly into adulthood, that there should be a bit of a craze for them as we realize, “Hey, I’m a grownup now; I can wear those badass fashions!”

If we all just hold strong, our collective will should get us through this national hour of crisis.

Actually, that’s a picture of the 2nd edition (1975). I can’t find a photo of the first (1970). Incidentally, did you know that you can estimate when a therapist was trained by which edition of Yalom s/he has on the bookshelf? The cover print stays the same, but the colors change with each edition. Thus, a relative of mine trained in the pink era, while I originally trained in green, but taught with silver.

The times were all about revolution and rejection of things past.

Like good taste.

Lizard was born in the 1970s.

This makes it the single most important decade in world history.

At least to him. :slight_smile:

80s - Flock of Seagull haircuts and skinny ties
90s - Flannel shirts and Nevermind T-shirts

And from someone that was rockin’ in the 70’s:
WTF is the pants pulled down below the ass and kept from falling to the ankles by a hand kept permanently clutching the crotch? And not so long ago I saw people in their teens to twenties with a PACIFIER in their mouth. And wearing sneakers (yeah, I called 'em sneakers) costing HUNDREDS of dollars. And Bling? Don’t get me started!
And you have the nerve to suggest a lack of taste or style back then? :smiley:

Hey! You kids get off my lawn!

I dunno about the fashion, but whatever was wrong with people in the 1970s didn’t hurt the movies of the decade. As far as films go, the decade rivals (and arguably surpasses) the 1930s in terms of quality. Some pretty good music from the time as well.