The 1970s also known as the "Nineteen Seventies" or "9teen 70s" abbreviated the "Seventies" or "70s" was the decade that began on Thursday, January 1,1970 and ended on Monday, December 31, 1979. It was the eighth decade of the 20th century.
In the Western world, the focus shifted from the social activism of the sixties to social activities for one's own pleasure eg sex, such as cocaine-fuelled, hedonistic all-night parties at discotheques and swinging parties. The seventies were considered by Tom Wolfe as the "Me Decade." The one exception is the activism of the environmentalism movement.
The perception of the established institutions of nuclear family, religion and trust in one's government continued to lose ground during this time. Major developments of the sexual revolution included the awareness of the impact of contraceptive pills on social-interactional relationships, and an increase in divorce rates, single parent households, and pre-marital sex. By the end of the decade, the feminist movement had helped change women's working conditions. The Gay Rights movement became prominent, and the hippie culture, which started in the 1960s, peaked in the early 1970s and carried on through the end of the decade. The United States' withdrawal from its extensive military involvement in Vietnam and the resignation of Richard Nixon helped bring about a sense of malaise and mistrust in political authority.
The United States experienced an economic recession, but the economy of Japan prospered. The economies of many third world countries continued to make steady progress in the early 1970s, because of the green revolution. They might have thrived and become stable in the way that Europe recovered after the war through the Marshall Plan; however, their economic growth was slowed by the oil crisis.
- 1 Worldwide trends
- 2 Economy
- 3 Social movements
- 4 Technology
- 5 Culture
- 6 National issues
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The ethos of the 1970s emerged from a transition of the global social structure. It reflected the transition from the decline of colonial imperialism since the end of World War II to globalization and the rise of a new middle class in the developing world.
Globally, the 1970s had several features that were similar and definitive across economic levels and regions. These aspects and essence that make up global essence of the 1970s are the defining points of the 1970s: the Bretton Woods system and its subsequent failure, the impact of the contraceptive pill on social-interactional dynamics, the rising of the Black community and the oil shock of 1973.
The developing nations experienced economic growth that came in the wake of political independence. However, several African economies declined and political states became dictatorial regimes. Many Middle Eastern democracies crumbled into chaotic regimes with pseudo-democratic governments.
The 1970s ethos in much of the developing world was characterized by the constant need to re-define social norms to newer socio-economic systems. As well, people were influenced by the rapid pace of change of the new social influences and the constant aspiration for a more egalitarian society in cultures that were long colonized and have an even longer history of hierarchical social structure.
The first facelifts were attempted in the 1970s.
The green revolution of the late 1960s brought about self sufficiency in many developing economies. At the same time an increasing number of people began to seek urban prosperity over agrarian life. This consequently saw the duality of transition of diverse interaction across social communities amid increasing information blockade across social class.
Other common global ethos of the seventies world include: increasingly flexible and varied gender roles for women. More women could enter the work force rather than remain housewives. However, the gender role of men remained as that of a bread-winner. The period also saw unprecedented socioeconomic impact of an ever-increasing number of women entering the non-agrarian economic workforce, and the sweeping cultural-religious impact of the Iranian revolution toward the end of the 1970s.
The global experience of the cultural transition of the 1970s and an experience of a global zeitgeist revealed the interdependence of economies since World War II, and showed the huge impact of American economic policies on the world.
The 1970s was perhaps the worst decade of Western and American economic performance since the Great Depression. Although there was no severe economic depression as witnessed in the 1930s, economic growth rates were considerably lower than previous decades. As a result, the 1970s adversely distinguished itself from the prosperous postwar period between 1945 and 1968. Then, the world economy was buoyed by the Marshall Plan and the robust American economy. However, the high standing enjoyed by the American economy gradually became discomposed by years of loose domestic spending (particularly the Great Society campaign) and funding for the Vietnam war. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 added to the existing ailments and conjured high inflation throughout much of the world for the rest of the decade. Soaring oil prices compelled most American businesses to raise their prices as well, with inflationary results.
The average annual inflation rate from 1900 to 1970 was approximately 2.5 percent. From 1970, however, the average rate hit about 6 percent, topping out at 13.3 percent by 1979. This period is also known for "stagflation", a phenomenon in which inflation and unemployment steadily increased, therefore leading to double-digit interest rates that rose to unprecedented levels (above 12% per year). The prime rate hit 21.5 in December 1980, the highest in history. By the time of 1980, when President Jimmy Carter was running for re-election against Ronald Reagan, the misery index (the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate) had reached an all-time high of 21.98 percent.
In Eastern Europe, Soviet-style command economies began showing signs of stagnation, in which successes were persistently dogged by setbacks. The oil shock increased East European, particularly Soviet, exports, but agriculture became a growing annoyance to such economies.
Economically, the seventies were marked by the energy crisis which peaked in 1973 and 1979 (see 1973 oil crisis and 1979 oil crisis). After the first oil shock in 1973, gasoline was rationed in many countries. Europe particularly depended on the Middle East for oil; the U.S. was also affected even though it had its own oil reserves. Many European countries introduced car-free days. In the U.S., customers with a license plate ending in an odd number were only allowed to buy gasoline on odd-numbered days, while even-numbered plate-holders could only purchase gasoline on even-numbered days. The experience that oil reserves were not endless and technological development was not sustainable without harming the environment ended the age of modernism. As a result, ecological awareness rose substantially.
The seventies started a mainstream affirmation of the environmental issues early activists from the '60s, such as Rachel Carson and Murray Bookchin had warned of. The moon landing that had occurred at the end of the previous decade transmitted back concrete images of the earth as an integrated, life-supporting system and shaped a public willingness to preserve nature. On April 22, 1970, the United States celebrated its first Earth Day in which over two thousand colleges and universities and roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools participated.
Feminism in the United States got its start in the 1960s, but began to take flight starting in 1970, with the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (which legalized female suffrage).
With the anthology Sisterhood is Powerful and other works being published at the start of the decade, feminism started to reach a larger audience than ever before.
See also: List of years in gay rights (1970s)
The Stonewall riots, which occurred in New York City in June 1969, are generally considered to have ignited the modern gay rights movement, in America (Canada, England and Wales had already decriminalised homosexuality in 1967). In the 1970s, in western countries and especially so in major urban centers, gay and lesbian people came out of the closet as never before (even as many others remained closeted) and a vocal and visible gay-rights movement coalesced in an unprecedented way.
Considering the profound stigma still attached to homosexuality at the dawn of the 1970s, the movement, although still nascent, saw tremendous gains over the course of the decade. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders in 1973. Gay-rights ordinances were passed by several cities, beginning with Ann Arbor in 1972, and in 1977 Quebec became the first jurisdiction larger than a city or county in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public and private sectors.
For the first time, a few openly gay people were elected to political office in the United States. In 1977 Harvey Milk, a politically active gay man in the emerging gay neighborhood The Castro, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. Milk and liberal San Francisco mayor George Moscone were assassinated the following year. In 1979 their assassin, Dan White, received a sentence of voluntary manslaughter. The anger the gay community felt about the murders and about White's light sentence further galvanized the movement (see White Night Riots).
The increasing visibility of gay people also generated a backlash during the seventies. In perhaps the most discussed anti-gay rights campaign of the decade, singer Anita Bryant led a successful drive in 1977 to repeal a gay-rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida. The new openness about homosexuality proved disconcerting to some heterosexuals who had been accustomed to gay and lesbian people remaining closeted and politically silent. Canadian author Robertson Davies wrote during the decade that "the love that dare not speak its name" (referencing the famous Lord Alfred Douglas quotation, also quoted by Oscar Wilde during his court case in 1895) "has become the love that won't shut up." On October 14 1979, approximately 100,000 people marched in Washington, in the largest pro-gay rights demonstration up to that time.
The birth of modern computing was in the 1970s. The world's first general microprocessor — the Intel 4004, came out on November 1971. The C programming language was developed early in the decade with the Unix operating system being rewritten into it in 1973. With "large-scale integration" possible for integrated circuits (microchips) rudimentary personal computers began to be produced along with pocket calculators. Notable home computers released in North America of the era are the Apple II, the TRS-80, the Commodore PET, and Atari 400/800 and the NEC PC-8001 in Japan.
The availability of affordable personal computers led to the first popular wave of internetworking with the first bulletin board systems. In 1976, Cray Research, Inc. introduced the first supercomputer, the Cray-1, which could perform operations at a rate of 240,000,000 calculations per second. Supercomputers designed by Cray continued to dominate the market throughout the 1970s. The 1970s was also the beginning of the video game era. Atari established itself as the dominant force in home video gaming, first with its home version of the arcade game Pong and later in the decade with the Atari 2600 console (originally called the "VCS", or Video Computer System). By the end of the decade, the scene was set for the Golden Age of Arcade Games.
The 1970s were also the start of Fiber Optics. In 1970 Corning glass announced that it had created a glass fiber so clear that it could be used to communicate pulses of light. Soon after, GTE and AT&T began experiments to transmit sound and image data using fiber optics, which transformed the communications industry. In automotive technology, post 1973, saw direction in both the United States and Europe turn away from the large and heavy mainstream automobiles, and towards lightweight, fuel efficient and environmentally conscious vehicles. The Lotus Esprit was an example of a 1970s supercar, producing high performance from a small engine. The Volkswagen Golf GTI of 1974 made the concept of a performance hatchback part of automotive mainstream thinking, though it had many precedents.
The United States lagged badly in the development of compact and fuel-efficient vehicles, a side effect of industrial inexperience on the part of the manufacturers in Detroit, and two giants of the industry, GM and Ford both produced vehicles that fell drastically short of customer desires and economic demands; In the case of GM the Vega and for Ford the Pinto. The most easily recognized and iconic compact cars for the 1970s were the AMC Gremlin and the AMC Pacer produced in the United States by the American Motors Corporation.
Automotive historians have also described the period as 'the era of poor quality control', and manufacturers internationally produced vehicles that have now become by-words for poor technological integration. Notably, the 1970s saw the introduction in the automotive field of novel technologies that would begin to mature in the 1990s and 2000s as viable alternative propulsion sources, such as hybrid vehicles, Stirling engines, as well as solar-electric and pure-electric vehicles. The integration of the computer and robot, particularly in Japan, saw unprecedented improvements in mass-produced automotive quality. Japanese manufacturers began at this time to make their presence felt in international markets at about this time.
During the 1970s, microwave ovens experienced a surge in popularity as price and size decreased rapidly towards the end of the decade. Cassette tapes also continued to surge in popularity after their introduction in the 1960s. VHS and Betamax waged a war as the primary recording and video devices beginning in 1976, but by the end of the decade VHS had become the dominant format.
Universities became friendlier and less authoritarian towards students. This was reflected in the corporate culture of the 1970s, where the hierarchy between supervisor and subordinates became increasingly flat. This had influence in social interaction and family relationship as well. The nuclear family rose to prominence in the first world and the role of women in nuclear families took radical shift from those of earlier generations. With the rise of nuclear family and liberal attitudes towards social structure came new perspectives to child rearing and education. The 70s saw a decline in attendance to boarding schools and a rise of local day schools. The role of the nuclear family and the parent was increasingly noticed and given new impetus. Social norms and laws were increasingly framed in favour of women.
The seventies were a time when a new generation of young people were exposed to new media and hence newer ideas in almost every field. TV and motion picture brought to varied audiences images, lifestyles and music from diverse regions and peoples. This led to the emergence of a new vocabulary and experimentation in music. After the war the second generation of German musicians began experimenting with music, these included experimental classical music and the tradition of Krautrock or Kraut music, rooted in the experimental classical music. This later influenced both art rock and progressive rock as well as the punk rock and New Wave genres. The main exponents of progressive rock include Genesis, Yes, Emerson and Pink Floyd. The experimental nature of progressive rock is exemplified in songs such as Pink Floyd's "Echoes". Also the start of "Metal" in many forms began with the British bands Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath even though "Metal" was in a very early and experimental state.
One of the first events of the 70s was the breakup of the Beatles in 1970. However, the seventies were also when many legendary rock bands started, or hit their peak, including ABBA, Black Sabbath, Queen, Kansas, Boston, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Electric Light Orchestra, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo, Family, Free, Aerosmith, Badfinger, the Eagles, Kiss, Heart, Rush, The Who, The Doors, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, and Van Halen. In Europe, there was a surge of popularity in the early decade for glam rock, thanks largely to the rise of T. Rex, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Gary Glitter and David Bowie, and bands like Slade and the Sweet.
We also saw the rise of Alternative Pop music with the soft, velvety tones of the brother and sister duo the Carpenters. The group went on to become the biggest selling artists of the decade (1970–1980). The first half of the 1970s saw many jazz musicians from the Miles Davis school achieve cross-over success through jazz-rock fusion. Particularly notable were the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, created by Chick Corea, and Weather Report, built upon the keyboards and saxophone of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, respectively. No European band could rival these American successes, all eventually signed to the CBS label, incidentally. In Germany, Manfred Eicher started the ECM label, which quickly made a name for 'chamber jazz' through the likes of Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett and Terje Rypdal. These two movements attracted many fans of progressive rock after its destruction by punk in 1976–77.
Another experimentation in European classical music was brought about by composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Michael Nyman, with what was to be called Minimalist music. This was a break from the intellectual serial music of the tradition of Schoenberg which lasted from the early 1900s to 1960s. Minimalist music sought to appreciate simple music with systematic patterns repeated in complex variations.
These experimentations were also used in several movies made in the early 1970s. In world music the musical collaboration of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and L. Subramaniam was appreciated by a large audience.
The commercial cinemas around the world tended to imitate nuances of disco beats in their movies to present their movies as western and upbeat. These included the increasingly popular Kung-fu movies in far East Asia and Bollywood movies from India. One of the most successful European groups of the decade was the quartet ABBA. The Swedish group, who are still the most successful group from their country, first found fame when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They became one of the most widely known European groups ever, and were the decade's biggest sellers. "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen" are two of ABBA's most popular songs.
To many people, the Seventies will be most remembered for the rise in disco music. First creeping into dance clubs in the mid-seventies (with such hits as "The Hustle" by Van McCoy), songstresses like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Dalida and Anita Ward popularized the genre and were described in subsequent decades as the "disco divas." The Village People scored a Top Ten hit with "Y.M.C.A." and the Bee Gees had a string of #1s following their collaboration on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
As quickly as disco's popularity came, however, it fell out of favor with the new decade, due to a religious revival and the rise of conservatism. Disco became associated with gays and minorities and conservatives such as Steve Dahl spoke out against disco and held demonstrations against it. Due to this tremendous backlash, disco effectively died in 1981. Along with the demise of disco came the end of the orchestrations and musical instruments (such as strings) which had become associated with disco. Electronic and synthesized music quickly replaced the lush orchestral sounds of the 1970s and rock music resurged in popularity with New Wave bands such as Blondie and Devo, who both formed their respective bands in the seventies. Many of the aforementioned singers who became popular during the disco era found themselves out of tune with the 1980s, and were out of work for many years, until a renewed interest in disco brought many of them back to the forefront. Many songs from the disco era are still very popular dance hits and receive continuous airplay in nightclubs throughout the world.
The mid-seventies saw the rise of punk music from its protopunk/garage band roots in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash were some of the earliest acts to make it big in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Groups like the Clash were noted for the experimentation of style, especially that of having strong reggae influences in their music. Punk music has also been heavily associated with a certain punk fashion and absurdist humor which exemplified a genuine suspicion of mainstream culture and values.
Towards the end of the decade, Jamaican reggae music, already popular in the Caribbean and Africa since the early 1970s, became very popular in the U.S. and in Europe, mostly because of reggae superstar and legend Bob Marley as well as his band, The Wailers, his former bandmate Peter Tosh and other artists like Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff.
Country music remained very popular in the U.S. In 1977 it became more mainstream after Kenny Rogers became a solo singer and scored many hits on both the country and pop charts. He achieved the biggest crossover success ever for the genre (although he would later be replaced by Garth Brooks).Waylon Jennings was very big and Willie Nelson released Red Headed Stranger.
In cinema all over the world, the seventies brought about vigor in adventurous, cool and realistic complex narratives with rich cinematography and elaborate scores. The cultural interaction between aided with TV and visual media and the rise in motion picture technology ushered in a new period of motion picture making.
In European cinema, the failure of the Prague Spring brought about nostalgic motion pictures reminiscent of the ones that celebrate the 1970s itself. These movies expressed a yearning and as a premonition to the decade and its dreams. The Hungarian director István Szabó made the motion picture Szerelmesfilm (1970), which is a nostalgic portrayal and a premonition of the fading of the young 1970s ethos of change and a friendlier social structure.
The Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci made the motion picture The Conformist (1970). German movies after the war asked existential questions especially the works of Rainer Fassbinder. The movies of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman reached a new level of expression in motion pictures like Cries and Whispers (1973). Young German directors made movies that came to be known as the German New Wave. It was the voice of a new generation that had grown up after the second world war. These included directors like Wim Wenders, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Werner Herzog.
Wim Wenders made movies that explored psychological states of humans in situations intimate and significant to the characters. He made Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty Kick) in 1972. It was based on a novella by Peter Handke. He further explored this realm in the motion picture Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities), 1974. Hans-Jürgen Syberberg created a sensation in 1977 with the motion picture Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland (Hitler a film from Germany). It was a seven hour movie which attempted to investigate Hitler under the shadows of Wagner art and Nazi nationalism. This was followed by the expressionist movie Woyzeck (1979) by Werner Herzog.
Asian cinema of the 1970s catered to the rising middle class fantasies and struggles. In the Bollywood cinema of India this was epitomised by the movies of Bollywood superhero Amitabh Bachchan. These movies portrayed adventurous plots with car chase trying to imitate hollywood movies like The French Connection, presented music with Disco beats and also presented the young middle class man as an "angry young man". The women on the other hand were shown as ones who have adopted western values and outfits especially by heroines like Parveen Babi (who was featured on the cover of TIME for a story on Bollywood's success) and Zeenat Aman.
However towards the very end of the 1970s, especially after the steep rise in land prices in urban areas and the decline in employment security, the heroines were seen more often as saree-women striving to have a prosperous middle class family especially heroines like Jayaprada and Hema Malini. In this way the cinema of Asian region becomes a sociological statement of the social-economic times of the region and its people.Other movie industry of the region produced fine masterpieces like in Malayalam cinema. Adoor Gopalakrishnan made Swayamvaram in 1972, which got wide critical acclaim. This was followed by the movie Nirmalyam by M.T. Vasudevan Nair in 1973.
The decade opened with Hollywood facing a financial slump, reflecting the monetary woes of the nation as a whole during the first half of the decade. Despite this, the seventies proved to be a benchmark decade in the development of cinema, both as an art form and a business. With young filmmakers taking greater risks and restrictions regarding language and sexuality lifting, Hollywood produced some of its most critically acclaimed and financially successful films since its supposed "golden era."
In the years previous to 1970, Hollywood had began to cater to the younger generation with films such as The Graduate. This proved a folly when anti-war films like R.P.M. and The Strawberry Statement became major box-office flops. Even solid films with bankable stars, like the Pearl Harbor epic Tora! Tora! Tora!, flopped, leaving studios in dire straits financially. Unable to repay financiers, studios began selling off land, furniture, clothing, and sets acquired over years of production. Nostalgic fans bid on merchandise and collectibles ranging from Judy Garland's sparkling red shoes to MGM's own back lots.
More of the successful films were those based in the harsh truths of war, rather than the excesses of the '60s. Films like Patton, about the World War II general, and M*A*S*H, about a Korean War field hospital, were major box-office draws in 1970. Honest, old-fashioned films like Five Easy Pieces, Summer of '42, and the Erich Segal adaptation, Love Story, were commercial and critical hits. (Love Story and Summer remain, as of 2005, two of the most successful films in Hollywood history. Summer, costing $1,000,000 USD, brought in $25,000,000 at the box office, while Love Story, with a budget of $2,200,000, earned $106,400,000).
One of the most insightful films of the decade came from the mind of a Hollywood outsider, Czechoslovakian director Miloš Forman, whose Taking Off became a bold reflection of life at the beginning of the seventies. The 1971 film satirized the American middle class, following a young girl who runs away from home, leaving her parents free to explore life for the first time in years. While the film was never given a wide release in America, it became a major critical achievement both in America and around the world (garnering the film high honors at the Cannes Film Festival and several BAFTA Award nominations).
An adaptation of an Arthur Hailey novel would prove to be one of the most notable films of 1970, and would set the stage for a major trend in seventies cinema. The film, Airport, featured a complex plot, characters, and an all-star cast of Hollywood A-listers and legends. Airport followed an airport manager trying to keep a fictional Chicago airport operational during a blizzard, as well as a bomb plot to blow up an airplane. The film was a major critical and financial success, helping pull Universal Studios into the black for the year. The film earned senior actress Helen Hayes an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and garnered many other nominations in both technical and talent categories. The success of the film launched a slew of disaster-related films, many of which following the same blueprint of major stars, a melodramatic script, and great suspense.
Three Airport sequels followed in 1974, 1977, and 1979, each successor making less money than the last. 1972 brought The Poseidon Adventure, which starred a young Gene Hackman leading an all-star cast to safety in a capsized luxury liner. The film earned an Academy Award for visual effects (and Best Original Song for "The Morning After", as well as numerous nominations, including one for its notable supporting star, Shelley Winters, but its sequel in 1979 was far less successful. The Towering Inferno teamed Steve McQueen and Paul Newman against a fire in a San Francisco skyscraper. The film cost a whopping $14 million to produce (expensive for its time), and won Academy Awards for Cinematography, Film Editing, and Best Original Song.
The same year, the epic Earthquake featured questionable effects (camera shake and models) to achieve a destructive 9.9 earthquake in Los Angeles. Despite this, the film was one of the most successful of its time, earning $80 million at box office. By the late seventies, the novelty had worn off and the disasters had become less exciting. 1977 brought a terrorist targeting a Rollercoaster, a 1978 Swarm of bees, and a less-than-threatening Meteor in 1979.
1971 brought a rebirth of the action film: three years after the influential Bullitt, The French Connection, starring Gene Hackman, brought suspense to new heights with an adrenaline-broiling car chase through the streets of New York City, while Get Carter featured gratuitous nudity and A Clockwork Orange featured much blood and gore to complement its complex story. African American filmmakers also found success in the seventies with such hits as Shaft and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, and more questionable films, such as Blacula and Blackenstein. Like other sequels in the seventies, Shaft went on to have two more adventures, each less successful than the last.
An adaptation of a Mario Puzo novel, The Godfather, became one of the best-loved and most respected works of cinema upon its release in 1972. The three-hour epic followed a Mafia boss, played by Marlon Brando, through his life of crime. Beyond the violence and drama were themes of love, pride, and greed. The Godfather went on to earn $134 million at American box office, and $245 million throughout the world. It won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Its director Francis Ford Coppola was passed over in favor of Bob Fosse and his musical, Cabaret, which also earned an Oscar for its star, Liza Minnelli. The Godfather: Part II followed in 1974, with roughly the same principal cast and crew, earning Oscars for star Robert De Niro, its director, composer, screenwriters and art directors. The film also earned the Best Picture Oscar for that year.
Not all of the "street smart" urban related films were 100% live action. Director Ralph Bakshi would initially release the 1st animated full length feature specifically oriented towards adults (Fritz the Cat) then move on to two other features that dealt with the mafia and other ethnic-related urban issues. Both Heavy Traffic and Coonskin (the latter renamed as Streetfight) would prove that this kind of material could be handled effectively in the animation genre. Bakshi would later produce fantasy oriented films (Wizards and The Lord of the Rings) before the decade ended.
Sean Connery returned to the role of James Bond in 1971 in Diamonds Are Forever after having George Lazenby fill in for one outing in 1969. Roger Moore succeeded Connery in 1973 with an adaptation of Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die which was the most successful of his Bond films in terms of admissions. Live and Let Die was followed by an adaptation of The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, which at the time garnered the lowest box office taking of any Bond film before it. After its release Harry Saltzman co-owner of Danjaq with Albert R. Broccoli sold his half to United Artists causing a 3 year gap until the next Bond film, the longest gap since the start of the franchise in 1962. The series picked up again in 1977 with The Spy Who Loved Me and ended the decade with Moonraker in 1979, which was the highest grossing Bond film (not adjusting for inflation) of all time until GoldenEye in 1995.
Other successful films would soon take Bond's place in the seventies. It was at this time that the blockbuster was born. While the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist was among the top five grossing films of the seventies, the first film given the blockbuster distinction was 1975's Jaws. Released on June 20th, the film about a series of horrific deaths related to a massive great white shark was director Steven Spielberg's first big-budget Hollywood production, coming in at a cool $9 million in cost. The film slowly grew in ticket sales and became one of the most profitable films of its time, ending with a $260 million dollar gross in the United States alone. The film won Academy Awards for its skillful editing, chilling score, and sound recording. It was also nominated for Best Picture that year, though it lost to Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (which also won acting awards for Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher).
The massive success of Jaws was eclipsed just two years later by another legendary blockbuster and film franchise. The George Lucas science-fiction epic Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (at the time called simply Star Wars) hit theater screens in May of 1977, and became a major hit, growing in ticket sales throughout the summer and the rest of the year. In time earning some $460 million, the good versus evil fantasy set in space was not soon surpassed. The film's breathtaking visual effects won an Academy Award. The film also won for John Williams's uplifting score, as well as art direction, costume design, film editing, and sound. A New Hope effectively removed any specter of studio bankruptcy that had haunted the studios since early in the decade.
When a television film, The Star Wars Holiday Special, was released as a spin-off from A New Hope in 1978, it failed to receive the status of the original film, and was deemed a flop. It would be two years until the Star Wars series would be revived with The Empire Strikes Back. Another success in visual effects came the same year as A New Hope, with Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, another blockbuster and alien contact set in the wilderness. For the picture, Spielberg received his first Oscar nomination for directing.
Throughout the seventies, the horror film developed into a lucrative genre of film, starting in 1973 with the terrifying The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin and starring the young Linda Blair. The film saw massive success, and the first of its sequels was released in 1977. 1976 brought the equally creepy suspense thriller, Marathon Man, about a man who becomes the target of a former Nazi dentist's torment after his brother dies. The same year, the Devil himself made an appearance in The Omen, about the spawn of Satan, as did its first sequel, 1978's Damien: Omen II. Halloween (also 1978) was a precursor to the "slasher" films of the eighties and nineties with its psychopathic Michael Myers. Cult horror films were also popular in the seventies, such as Wes Craven's early gore films The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, as well as Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
In the mid-seventies movies began to reflect the disenfranchisement brought by the excesses of the past twenty years. A deeply unsettling look at alienation and city life, Taxi Driver earned international praise, first at the Cannes Film Festival and then at the Academy Awards, where it was nominated for Best Leading Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Score (Bernard Herrmann), and Best Picture. All the President's Men dealt with the impeachment of Richard Nixon, while Network portrayed greed and narcissism in both American society and television media. The film won Oscars for Best Actor (Peter Finch), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight), and Best Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky). Thanks to a stellar cast, experienced director, and a poignant story, Network became one of the largest critical successes of 1976.
Another film, Rocky, about a clubhouse boxer (played by Sylvester Stallone) who is granted a world championship title fight won the Best Picture Academy Award that year. The film also became a major commercial success and spawned four sequels through the rest of the seventies and eighties having a fifth sequel released in theaters Christmas 2006. 1978 brought the successful sequel, Jaws 2, which featured the same cast, but without Steven Spielberg. Another tailor-made blockbuster, Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong was released, but to less than stellar success. King Kong did mark the first time a film was booked to theaters before a release date, a common practice today.
The success of Woody Allen's Annie Hall in 1977 stirred a new trend in moviemaking. Annie Hall, a love story about a depressed comedian and a free-spirited woman, was followed with more sentimental films, including Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl, An Unmarried Woman starring Jill Clayburgh, the autobiographical Lillian Hellman story, Julia, starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, and 1978's Heaven Can Wait and International Velvet.
Younger audiences were also beginning to be the focus of cinema, after the huge blockbusters that had attracted them back to the theater. John Travolta became popular in the pop-culture landmark films, Saturday Night Fever, which introduced Disco to middle America, and Grease, which recalled the world of the 1950s. Comedy was also given new life in the irreverent National Lampoon's Animal House, set on a college campus during the 1960s. Up in Smoke, starring Cheech and Chong, was another irreverent comedy about marijuana use became popular among teenagers. The new television comedy program, "Saturday Night Live," launched the careers of several of its comedians, such as Chevy Chase, who starred in the 1978 hit Foul Play with rising star Goldie Hawn ; John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with their blues musical act made into a motion picture, The Blues Brothers (made in 1979, released in 1980). John Belushi had played in National Lampoon's Animal House. Blockbusters like Superman: The Movie, starring former Love of Life actor Christopher Reeve, were also still popular.
The decade closed with two films chronicling the Vietnam War, Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Both films focused on the horrors of war and the psychological damaged caused by such horrors. Christopher Walken and director Michael Cimino earned Oscars for their work on the film, which earned a Best Picture Academy Award. Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep were also nominated for their work in The Deer Hunter. Apocalypse Now won for cinematography and sound, and earned nominations for Robert Duvall and Coppola.
1979 saw the poignant Kramer vs. Kramer, the inspiring Norma Rae, and the nuclear thriller, The China Syndrome. Alien scared summer movie-going audiences of 1979 with its horrible monster from outer space, achieving similar success that Jaws had seen four years earlier. Meanwhile, The Onion Field and ...And Justice for All focused on the failures of the American judicial system. The year ended with Hal Ashby's subtle black comedy Being There and The Muppet Movie, a family film based on the Jim Henson puppet characters.
In 1967 BBC Two had started trials of their new colour service, and it was gradually rolled out over the next few years. BBC One and ITV followed suit in 1969, so by 1970 the viewer had three colour channels from which to choose: BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Although U.S. imports occupied a significant proportion of airtime, there was a substantial amount of high quality in-house production too.
The BBC, supported by its licence fee and with no advertisers to placate, continued fulfilling its brief to entertain and inform. The Play for Today was a continuation of the Wednesday Play which had run from the mid '60s. As the title implied, it presented TV drama which had relevance to current social and economic issues, done in a way calculated to intrigue or even shock the viewer. As well as using established writers, it was effectively an apprenticeship for new ones who were trying to make a name for themselves; Dennis Potter, John Mortimer, Arthur Hopcraft and Jack Rosenthal all served time on Play for Today before going on to write their own independent series. In style, the plays could go from almost documentary realism (of which Cathy Come Home is the best known example) to the futuristic or surrealist (The Year of the Sex Olympics, House of Character).
Potter went on to write Pennies From Heaven, one of the landmarks of '70s television drama. It had the now familiar elements of Potter’s style: sexual explicitness, nostalgia, fantasy song and dance scenes, all overlaying a dark and pessimistic view of human motivation. The series was a success, but the BBC was not yet ready for Brimstone and Treacle, a story of the rape of a physically and mentally handicapped young woman. After viewing it, the BBC’s Director Of Programmes Alasdair Milne, pronouncing it to be “brilliantly written … but nauseating”, withdrew it, and it would not be shown on British television until 1987. The science fiction show Doctor Who reached its peak with actors Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker cast in the role of the Doctor.
Many popular British situation comedies (sit-coms) were gentle, innocent, unchallenging comedies of middle-class life, avoiding or only hinting at controversial issues; typical examples were Terry and June, Sykes, and The Good Life. A more diverse view of society was offered by series like Porridge, a comedy about prison life, and Rising Damp, set in a lodging house inhabited by two students, a lonely spinster and a lecherous landlord. More nostalgic in tone were Last of the Summer Wine, about the escapades of pensioners in a Yorkshire town, and Dad's Army, about a Home Guard unit during World War II. Set in a hotel in Torquay, Fawlty Towers was a massive success for the BBC, despite only twelve episodes being made.
Things had begun to change in the '60s, with Till Death Us Do Part, and the series continued during 1972–75. The rantings of Alf Garnett on race, class, religion, education and anything else at all definitely touched a nerve. Although the show was in fact poking fun at right-wing bigotry, not everyone got the joke. Some — including, notably, Mary Whitehouse — complained about the language (although the level of profanity was quite light) and resented the racial epithets like “wog” and “coon” and the attitudes underlying them. Others, completely missing the point of the show, actually adopted Alf as their hero, thinking he was uttering truths that others didn’t dare to — apparently oblivious to the fact that he never got the best of any argument and was regularly shown up to be stupid and ill-informed. The series regularly provoked controversy in the media, and for millions it became a common gossiping point at work or in the pub.
In police dramas there was a move towards increasing realism. Dixon of Dock Green continued until 1976, but it was essentially a nostalgic look back to an earlier time when police officers were depicted as a mix of strict but fair law enforcer, and kindly social worker. On the other hand, detective series such as Softly, Softly (a spin-off from the earlier Z-Cars) began to show police work done by fallible human beings with their own personal failings and weaknesses, constantly frustrated by the constraints under which they worked. Such series showed crime at the level of petty larceny and fraud, being tackled by ordinary coppers on the beat. Serious organised crime, on the other hand, was the province of various elite units, and one show in the '70s set a new standard. The Sweeney presented a hard, gritty picture of an armed police unit — members of Scotland Yard's elite Flying Squad. Violence was routine, as were fast car chases; Regan and Carter were hard-hitting coppers, who when they weren’t catching villains were likely to be on a drunken binge or womanizing.
Although this was a truer picture of British policing, it was not always to the liking of senior police officers, who felt that the confidence of the public in the police force would be diminished as a result. In police dramas through most of the '70s however, corruption was rare, the detection rate was unrealistically high, and the criminals arrested were always convicted on solid evidence. Although the officers in The Sweeney were no angels, and there were occasional hints that police who inhabited a world where informants were necessary could not completely avoid compromises, these never amounted to more than turning a blind eye to minor misdmeanours. It would not be until 1978 that a police drama (the mini-series Law and Order) would depict a police officer fabricating evidence to secure a conviction, with the collusion of his colleagues.
At the start of the decade, long-standing trends in American television were finally reaching the end of the road. The Red Skelton Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, long-revered American institutions, were finally canceled after multi-decade spans. The "family sitcom," popularized by the travails of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in the fifties and sixties, saw its last breath at the start of the new decade with The Brady Bunch, which ran for five seasons. Although the show was never highly rated during its original run, it has been broadcast in syndication continuously since 1974, and many children have grown up with it, causing them to think of the Bradys as the quintessential family — not only in 1970s television, but quite possibly all of American television. In the early 1970s the magical sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched began to lose American interest with I Dream of Jeannie ending its run in 1970 and Bewitched ending in 1972.
In the United States, television in the seventies was transformed by what became termed as "social consciousness" programming, spearheaded by television producer Norman Lear. All in the Family, his adaptation of the British television series Till Death Us Do Part, broke down television barriers. When the series premiered in 1971, Americans heard the words "fag," "jigaboo," and "spic" on national television programming for the first time. All in the Family was the talk of countless dinner tables throughout the country; Americans hadn't seen anything like it on television before. The show became the highest-rated program on U.S. television schedules in the fall of 1971 and stayed in the top slot until 1976 — to date, only one other series has tied All in the Family for such a long stretch at the top of the ratings. All in the Family spawned numerous spin-offs, such as Maude, starring Bea Arthur.
Maude was Edith Bunker's cousin and Archie's arch-enemy. She stood for everything liberal and was an outspoken advocate of civil rights and feminism. Like All in the Family, Maude broke new ground in television and presented American audiences with something they had never encountered on television before when Maude admitted, without guilt or shame, to having had an abortion, the first time the topic had ever been addressed on TV. Maude felt most comfortable, however, hiring a black woman as her housekeeper. Maude's housekeeper, Florida Evans (played by Esther Rolle), became popular in her own right and was given her own television series in 1974, Good Times, which proved to be another hit for Lear's production company. Lear developed two shows in 1975: The Jeffersons, a spinoff of All in the Family in which Archie Bunker's black next-door neighbors moved to a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and One Day at a Time, about a single mother raising her two teenage daughters in Indianapolis.
With the rise in socially responsible programming, the television western, a very popular genre in the 1960s, slowly died out. The first casualties were The High Chaparral and The Virginian, both NBC staples, in the spring of 1971. Bonanza suffered a blow when actor Dan Blocker died during surgery in 1972, and the show quietly ended its run the next year. CBS's Gunsmoke outlasted them all, and finally ended its run with a star-studded series finale in 1975. Bonanza actor Michael Landon helped popularize a television adaptation of the popular children's book series Little House on the Prairie. Debuting in 1974, the series ran for eight years. Little House's competitor family drama was CBS's The Waltons, which revolved around family unity but during a different time and place — Virginia during the Great Depression.
By the mid-to-late 1970s, viewers tired of socially responsible sitcoms. Former CBS head of programming Fred Silverman defected to struggling ABC started the trend of TV centred around sexual gratification and bawdy humor and situations, nicknamed "jiggle television." Jiggle TV shows included the crime-fighting television series Charlie's Angels, which starred up-and-coming sex symbols Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson and the risqué sitcom such as Three's Company, modeled after the British series Man About the House, in which swinging single-man Jack Tripper pretended to be gay in order to live in an apartment with two single women. Mildly controversial at the time, the show quickly became a Top Ten hit in the ratings.
ABC also aired Soap, a sitcom that parodied soap operas, and garnered controversy by writing in one of the first gay characters on U.S. television. Many stations refused to air the series (another storyline consisted of heroine Corinne Tate, played by Diana Canova, lusting after a priest who eventually left the priesthood to marry her). Silverman's legacy also included the escapist "fantasy" genre, which started in 1977 with The Love Boat. The series involved popular movie and television stars in guest roles as passengers on a luxury cruise liner that sailed up and down the Pacific Coast. Silverman followed up in 1978 with Fantasy Island, starring Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize. Montalban and Villechaize were the owner and sidekick, respectively, of a luxury island resort where peoples' wishes came true.
Another popular medium in U.S. television moving into the 1970s was the soap opera, which moved from being a genre watched exclusively by housewives to having a sizable audience of men (who largely watched The Edge of Night) and college students; the latter audience helped All My Children gain a devoted following, as it was on during many universities' traditional "lunch period." In a TIME article written about the genre in 1976, it was estimated that as many as 35 million households tuned into at least one soap opera each afternoon, the most popular being As the World Turns, which routinely grabbed viewing figures of twelve million or higher each day.
The soap boom spawned a nighttime soap parody, Mary Hartman, which made a quick star out of Louise Lasser, who played the eponymous heroine. A rising soap opera toward the decade's end was Ryan's Hope, which capitalized on the everyman success of the film Rocky (despite Ryan's Hope debuting earlier; the show's success came a while after the movie's release). The serial was about an Irish-American family running a pub in New York City, and earned critical acclaim from television critics for its realistic portrayal of an "ethnic" middle-class family in a contemporary setting. The show's matriarch, played by Helen Gallagher, won two Daytime Emmys by decade's end. Also during the decade General Hospital, a soap that spent most of the decade with bad ratings (It was almost canceled in 1976) saw a rise in popularity around late 1978 due to its more youthful focus. However, it would not yet become a ratings giant until the 1980s.
Daytime television was consumed with several game shows, airing alongside soap operas during the mornings and afternoons. During the early years of the decade, The Hollywood Squares (NBC) was the most popular, winning numerous Emmy awards. Hosted by masterly emcee Peter Marshall, nine celebrities in a large tic-tac-toe board — among them, center square Paul Lynde — responded to miscellaneous questions. Contestants must state whether they "agree" or "disagree" with the answers and if they are correct, their "X"/"O" symbol lights up in the celeb's box. The first to get three in a row or a five-square win succeeds and wins money. Bluffs and zingers made this the essential show to watch on afternoons. In the mid-70s Match Game (CBS) was the most popular game show (it was #1 among them from 1973 to 1977), in a time when there were many of them. Players must match the answers of flaky panelists like Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.
Fill-in-the-blank questions involving crude humor, zany panelists, several hilarious incidents, and pure "fun" between the panel and "ringmaster" host Gene Rayburn made it popular. At one point, it broke records as the highest-rated daytime TV show in U.S. history. The show launched a spinoff, Family Feud (ABC), an enormously prominent game which prevailed as the #1 game show of the late 70s. Two families squared off in assuming the most common answers to surveys of 100 people across the nation with such questions as, "name a public figure most Americans dislike." The simple concept was the main cause of its success, but interesting answers and the clever wit of Richard Dawson fueled the show's amazingly high ratings. Other successful game shows during this decade included The Price is Right (still on the air to this day), Let's Make a Deal, The $20,000 Pyramid, The Gong Show, The Newlywed Game, Password, Tattletales, Break the Bank, and The Joker's Wild.
Another influential genre was the television newscast, which built on its initial widespread success in the 1960s. Each of the three television networks had widely recognizable and respected journalists helming their newscasts: CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, who was voted "The Most Trusted Man in America" many times over, led in the nightly ratings. NBC's John Chancellor and David Brinkley were a strong second, while ABC, perennially third place in the news department until the 1990s, had a newscast helmed by Howard K. Smith.
Finally, the variety show received its last hurrah during this decade. Popular during the 1950s and 1960s, variety shows carried on in the 1970s with The Carol Burnett Show. With a repertory company that included Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner, the veterans' series continued to be successful and ran well into the mid-seventies. NBC aired a variety show of its own, starring African-American comedian Flip Wilson. The Flip Wilson Show became a success and became the first show headed by an African-American comedian to become a ratings winner.
In 1971, while Fred Silverman was still working for CBS, he spotted singing duo Sonny & Cher doing a stand-up concert and decided to turn it into a weekly variety show. In addition to some entertaining stand-up banter between the husband and wife, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour would also have skits and music (mostly sung by Cher). The show was a ratings winner from the first episode and ran for three years. It was followed in the same vein shortly after by singing group Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Another group of singers who received a variety show in the seventies were two of the famous singing Osmonds — Donny and his sister Marie. Sid & Marty Krofft set to work on the siblings' series and Donny & Marie premiered on ABC in the winter of 1976. Although the show became very popular, the Osmonds were equally ridiculed for their wholesome image and Mormon moral reputation (on an episode of Good Times, the lead character, Florida, listed three things in the world you just can't do, and one was "smile wider than Donny and Marie"). The popular American sitcom That '70s Show is based from the years 1976 to 1980 (the series finale is set on New Year's Eve of 1979).
After the experimentation and sexual subject matter that exemplified some of the sixties' most definitive works of literature, the early '70s brought a return to old-fashioned storytelling. Erich Segal's Love Story was a tender romance that captured America, topping best-seller lists for the better part of the year and producing a successful film adaptation by the end of 1970.
The seventies also saw the decline of previously well-respected writers, such as Saul Bellow and Peter De Vries, who both released poorly received novels at the start of the decade. Meanwhile, Islands in the Stream, a posthumously released Ernest Hemingway novel, was released. While Hemingway's classic style showed through, it was criticized as overwrought.
Racism remained a key subject in literature throughout the early seventies. While Madison Jones' A Cry of Absence and Ernest J. Gaines' The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman studied racism in the past, works like that of Nadine Gordimer and Bernard Malamud studied race relations in South Africa and New York respectively.
In the early seventies, John Updike emerged as a major literary figure with the release of Bech: A Book, a semi-autobiographical look at a Jewish novelist, the continuing Rabbit series (including 1971's popular Rabbit Redux), and his numerous subtle, relevant stories. Reflections of the 1960s experience also found roots in the literature of the decade through the works of Joyce Carol Oates and Morris Wright. Books like Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner explored sex, single-parenthood, and the singles life in fresh, intriguing, and even unsettling light.
With the rising cost of hard-cover books and the increasing readership of "genre fiction," the paperback became a popular medium through the popular fiction of Peter Benchley and Thomas Pynchon. Criminal non-fiction also became a popular topic with works such as The Onion Field, written by Los Angeles policeman Joseph Wambaugh, and the narrative Helter Skelter, about the infamous Charles Manson killings, written by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.
1975 brought the popular Watership Down by Richard Adams, a juvenile novel about a family of rabbits which found a home in mainstream literary circles. Joseph Heller's middle-age dramatic novel Something Happened brought the author one of his best-received novels since Catch-22. James A. Michener also returned to prominence in the seventies, first with Chesapeake, a story of four families interwoven throughout their interactions in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, and later with Centennial, a historical novel about a family living in Colorado in the time of the 1870s. In 1976, Centennial was adapted to a popular television miniseries. John Jakes would release a Bicentennial series of novels himself, which helped launch his writing career and were nearly as popular as Michener's book.
E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime became one of the most popular books of 1976 with its unconventional style and satiric nature. Saul Bellow returned with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Humboldt's Gift, about a failed poet and a rising playwright. The same year Alex Haley released his immensely popular Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which followed Haley's ancestry back to the kidnapping of a young black man named Kunta Kinte, who was sold into slavery in the south.
Carl Bernstein and Robert Woodward, writers from the Washington Post, published The Final Days in 1976. The best-selling book documented the downfall of President Richard Nixon, and their involvement in his resignation, he was not impeached. Throughout this period many other books related to Nixon and the Watergate scandal topped the best-selling lists. The same year, Alice Walker published Meridian, about the Civil Rights Movement, and Renata Adler released the feminist classic, Speedboat.
By the late seventies, a former English teacher from Maine had become one of the most popular genre novelists with his tales of horror and suspense. Stephen King's 1974 novel, Carrie, became a best seller and spawned a popular 1976 film. He followed Carrie with Salem's Lot, a vampire tale; The Shining, a spooky romp set in a deserted hotel; The Stand, a post-apocalyptic shocker; and The Dead Zone, about a comatose man who awakens with psychic abilities. King also released a collection of short stories and two novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
1977 brought many high-profile biographical works of literary figures, such as those of Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, and J.R.R. Tolkien. The world of fiction saw a return of the muckraker. Books by John Blair and Robert Engler warned of the problems caused by America's dependence on oil while Sidney Lens' The Day Before Doomsday warned of nuclear annihilation. Mario Puzo's much-awaited follow-up to The Godfather, Fools Die, was released in 1978 and instantly became a best seller.
Notable works such as William Styron's Holocaust epic, Sophie's Choice, rounded out the decade. Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird reflected the comic results of the Watergate scandal while Nadine Gordimer continued to write in favor of an end to Apartheid. By decade's end, Tom Wolfe topped the best-seller lists with The Right Stuff, which celebrated the early NASA test pilots and astronauts.
After two decades of cookbooks, historical novels and inspirational religious fiction topping the bestseller charts, literature in the seventies took a new turn. The independence and freedom themes of the sixties showed up in early seventies literature, with a 1970 fiction top ten bestseller, The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles. Fowles tells a story about a woman choosing to raise a child on her own in an artists world, as opposed to marrying into money and high society.
By 1975, the independence and freedom themes evolved into the swinging singles scene, with Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner at number four on the fiction top ten list. Sex hit the top of the non-fiction charts in 1970, with authors taking advantage of the lifted censorship laws on literature in the sixties. Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask by David Reuben took the number one spot, winning out over The New English Bible at number two, a book just as controversial. The New English Bible completely abandoned the conservative interpretation and traditional Bible phrasing for contemporary wording and modern analogy.
The exposé became a popular bestseller tool, hitting its high point with the 1974 number two non-fiction best seller, All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two journalists that exposed Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Interestingly enough, at number one was The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan, which marked the beginning of the conservative right’s counterattack on the sixties liberation and the seventies retreat from traditional values. The exposés throughout the seventies unveiled much of American society's secrets, including the treatment of Native Americans, the corporate world, and baseball, to name a few. A revealing exposé in 1979 finally reached the most esteemed rooms of the country, with The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong.
Self-help and diet books replaced the cookbooks and home fix-it manuals that topped the sixties's charts, and starting in 1972 there were at least two self help books on every non-fiction top ten list through 1979, starting with I'm OK, by Thomas Anthony Harris and ending with How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years by Howard J. Ruff. Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution started the bestseller health craze in 1972, with multiple diet and exercise books throughout the decade, ending with The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx in 1978, and The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet in 1979.
As the picture books and inspirational religious fiction of the sixties disappeared, irreverence and satire became the norm. In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut in 1973 maintained with humorous analogy an extensive satirical discussion of American society, revealing his views on such topics as marketing, government and the environment. Richard Adams in Watership Down commented on the environment and the land development industry, speaking through a society of rabbits. In 1972, Richard Bach made an avatar out of a bird in Jonathon Livingston Seagull, and by 1977 made a saviour out of a car mechanic in Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. Vonnegut ended the decade with Jailbird, a satire on the innocent unknown faces, the guilty known ones, and the born again Christians that spent time in prison because of Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.
The newest genre to start in the seventies was the horror genre, beginning in 1971 with The Exorcist by William P. Blatty, and again with the sensational Amityville Horror by Jay Anson in 1977. In 1979, Stephen King first made the fiction top ten with The Dead Zone, a fitting end to seventies literature, and along with Vonnegut, Bach, the diet books and the self help manuals on the lists in 1979, gave a good indication of what American society would be reading in the future, and how much the seventies impacted and helped to change American culture.
Architecture in the 1970s began as a the continuation of styles created by such architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Early in the decade, several architects competed to build the tallest building in the world. Of these buildings, the most notable are the John Hancock Center and Sears Tower in Chicago, both designed by Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan and the World Trade Center towers in New York by Japanese architect Minoru Yamasaki. The decade also brought experimentation in geometric design, pop-art, postmodernism and early deconstructivism.
In 1974, Louis Kahn's last and arguably most famous building, the National Assembly Building of Dhaka, Bangladesh was completed. The building's use of open spaces and groundbreaking geometry brought rare attention to the small southeast Asian country. Hugh Stubbins' Citicorp Center revolutionized the incorporation of solar panels in office buildings. The seventies brought further experimentation in glass and steel construction and geometric design. Chinese architect I. M. Pei's John Hancock Tower in Boston is an example, although like many buildings of the time, the experimentation was flawed and glass panes fell from the façade.
But modern architecture was increasingly criticized, both from the point of view of postmodern architects such as Philip Johnson, Charles Moore and Michael Graves who advocated a return to pre-modern styles of architecture and the incorporation of pop elements as a means of communicating with a broader public. Other architects, such as Peter Eisenman of the New York Five advocated the pursuit of form for the sake of form and drew on semiotics theory for support.
"High Tech" architecture moved forward as Buckminster Fuller continued his experiments in geodesic domes while the George Pompidou Center, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, which opened in 1977, was a prominent example. As the decade drew to a close, Frank Gehry broke out in new direction with his own house in Santa Monica, a highly complex structure half-excavated out of an existing bungalow and half cheaply-built construction using materials such as chicken wire fencing.
Science and philosophy
The 1970s saw an emergence of a new world view in the scientific world and philosophical approach. The linear modeling of the natural and social systems gave way to pioneering dynamical non linear approach to the study of phenomena across sciences. Although the roots of these were laid in the 1940s and 1950s, the seventies saw the blooming of these ideas especially with the rise of Artificial intelligence through the works in natural language processing by Terry Winograd (1973) and the establishment of the first cognitive sciences department in the world at MIT in 1979. The fields of generative linguistics and cognitive psychology went through a renewed vigour with symbolic modeling of semantic knowledge while the final devastation of the long standing tradition of behaviorism came about through the severe criticism of B.F. Skinner's work in 1971 by the cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky.
The spirit of discovery and exploration characterized the seventies in scientific pursuits in several disciplines. It reached its zenith with the ambitious Voyager program in 1977. The program consisted of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 unmanned expeditions sent to several of the outer planets in the solar system. The Voyager program also sent a Voyager Golden Record with the spaceship presenting aspects of life on Earth to intelligent alien life forms outside the Earth. The record contained pictures and other data about human beings and other living beings on earth. It also had an assortment of music from across cultures.
Coupled with the zenithal achievements of the Voyagers, came the end of manned spacecraft on the part of NASA, with termination of the Apollo lunar flights in 1972 with Apollo 17. The Apollo-Soyuz and Spacelab programs completed in 1976, and there would be a five year hiatus in American manned spaceflight until the flight of the Space Shuttle. The Soviet Union would develop vital technologies involving long-term human life in free-fall on the Salyut and later Mir space stations.
In the sciences, the 1970s witnessed an explosion in the understanding of solid-state physics, driven by the development of the integrated circuit, and the laser. The development of the computer produced an interesting duality in the physical sciences at this period — analogue recording technology had reached its peak at this period, and was incredibly sophisticated. However, digital measurement and mathematical tools, now becoming cheaper (though still not within the reach of the man of the street) allowed discrete answers and imaging of physical phenomena, though at a low resolution and a low bandwidth of data. This tendency was to reach its peak in 1982, though the period 1974–1982 represents the 'period of dichotomy' in the metrication of the sciences.
Deep understanding of physics became important in the 1970s. The CERN super-collider was constructed in this decade, and Stephen Hawking developed his theories of black holes and the boundary-condition of the universe at this period. The biological sciences, spurred by social concerns about the environment and life, gained tremendous detail in this period. The elucidation of molecular biology, bacteriology, virology and genetics achieved their modern forms in this decade. The discrete quantum interactions within living systems became amenable to analysis, and manipulation. Genetic Engineering became a commercially viable technology at this time.
The biodiversity of the earth's rainforest biomes became a cause for concern among conservationists, as the rate of destruction became more widespread.In evolutionary sciences the idea of punctuated equilibrium by Stephen Jay Gould, took hold of the scientific community and redefined the foundations of evolutionary thought.
The 1970s was known for three renegade sports leagues that challenged older, established organizations in need of an energy boost and fresh perspective on their respective sports. The American Basketball Association (ABA), founded in 1967, was well-known for its faster, up-tempo style of play, its multicolored red, white, and blue ball, and the introduction of the three-point shot. In 1976, the NBA took in four former ABA teams when that league folded. The NBA also adopted the three-point shot and many star ABA players who would go on to star in the NBA. The World Hockey Association (WHA), which lasted from 1972 through 1979, brought four new franchises to the NHL and the player who would come to dominate the sport itself in Wayne Gretzky. World Series Cricket was a breakaway league from 1977-1979, which attracted international players with salaries far in excess of officially established competition. It was the catalyst for the major restructuring of world cricket which took place in the 1980s.
The "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, who proclaimed the women's game to be inferior, was a turning point in sports during the decade. Playing a male chauvinist card, Riggs originally challenged Margaret Court, whom he beat soundly on Mother's Day 1973. Riggs took this as an invitation to challenge all female players, and Billie Jean King took the opportunity to accept his challenge. Highly publicized and nationally televised, the "Battle of the Sexes" match was held on September 20, 1973, at the Astrodome in Houston; King defeated the 55-year-old Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. The match was heralded as a major victory for women in athletics.
During the 1970s, the Summer Olympics took place twice, with Munich hosting the games in 1972 and Montreal playing host in 1976. The 1972 Summer games became victim to both terrorism and international controversy with ties to the ongoing Cold War situation. During the games, Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took nine hostage. After a failed rescue attempt, all hostages and all but three of terrorists were killed. The United States-Soviet Union basketball game was also embroiled in controversy. The U.S. basketball Olympic winning streak, which started in 1936, was ended by the Soviet Union team's close victory in the final game.
The U.S. complained about errors in officiating but the victory by the Soviet Union was upheld. Among the 1972 Summer Olympic highlights was the performance of swimmer Mark Spitz, who set seven World Records to win a record seven gold medals in one Olympics, bringing his total to nine. Other notable athletes at the 1972 games were sixteen-year-old Olga Korbut, whose success in women's gymnastics earned three gold medals for the Soviet Union, and British athlete Mary Peters, who took home the gold in the women's pentathlon.
The 1976 Summer games in Montreal marked the first time the Olympic games were held in Canada. Mindful of the tragedy during the 1972 games, security was high during the Montreal games. Due to its policy on apartheid, South Africa was banned from the games. Even so, twenty-two other African countries sat out to protest South Africa's treatment of blacks, mainly because New Zealand was allowed to compete, despite their rugby team touring South Africa earlier in the year.
The 1976 Summer Olympics were highlighted by the legendary performance of Romanian female gymnast Nadia Comaneci. The 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci of Romania scored seven perfect 10s and won 3 gold medals, including the prestigious All Around in women's gymnastics. The performance by Comaneci also marked the rise of legendary women's gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi, who went on to coach the U.S. team in both the 1988 and 1992 summer Olympic games. The 1976 Summer games also featured the strong U.S. boxing team, which consisted of Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr. The team won five gold medals and was arguably the greatest Olympic boxing team ever. In wrestling, Dan Gable won the gold medal in the 149-pound weight class without having a single point scored against him. Amazingly, this was done with a painful shoulder injury.
The 1970s marked a boom in the popularity of distance running, especially in the United States. Frank Shorter won the marathon at the 1972 games and his runaway performance inspired average people to get out and run. Road running boomed and new courses like the New York City marathon came into existence. The decade also marked a resurgence of Finnish power in the distance running world. Finnish athletes Pekka Vasala (1500m) and Lasse Viren (5000 m, 10000 m) swept the men's distance races on the track at the 1972 Olympic games, the first time one country had done this since Finland in 1928. Viren repeated his double at the 1976 games.
The Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo, Japan, in 1972 and Innsbruck, Austria, in 1976. Originally, Denver, was supposed to host the '76 games, but voters rejected a plan to finance the venues needed and the IOC chose Innsbruck instead; the city had already had venues from hosting the 1964 Winter Olympics.
Political authoritarianism in Arab and Middle Eastern states, combined with the settlement of the West Bank by Israel after a military victory in Israel's Six-Day-War war of 1967, led to a major increase in Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian terror group Black September was involved in aircraft hijackings and a deadly hostage incident at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
On September 6 1970 the world witnessed the beginnings of modern rebellious fighting in what is today called as Skyjack Sunday. Palestinian terrorists hijacked four airliners and took over 300 people on board as hostage. Later the hostages were released but the planes were exploded in front of world wide media coverage.
The relationship between Egypt and Israel changed dramatically throughout the 1970s.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 transformed Iran from an autocratic pro-west monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to an Islamic, theocratic government under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. Distrust between the revolutionaries and Western powers led to the Iran hostage crisis on November 4, 1979 where 66 diplomats, mainly from the U.S., were held captive. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein began to rise to power by helping to modernize the country. One major initiative was removing the western monopoly on oil which later during the high prices of 1973 oil crisis would help Hussein's ambitious plans. On July 16, 1979 he assumed the presidency cementing his rise to power. His presidency led to the breaking off of a Syrian-Iraqi unification, which had been sought under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and would later lead to the Iran-Iraq War starting in the 1980s.
Idi Amin became infamous in the seventies for his brutal regime in Uganda. The seventies also witnessed the fall of Haile Selassie and Jean-Bedel Bokassa, and the continuation of apartheid in South Africa (and the death of Steve Biko).
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971/Bangladesh Liberation War/Concert for Bangladesh (relates back to culture), Indian Emergency 1975–1977 Martial law was declared in the Philippines on September 21, 1972 by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
The Vietnam War came to a close in the early Seventies with the Paris Peace Accords. Opposition had increased in the United States which led to U.S. withdrawal in the early part of 1973. However, in 1975 North Vietamese forces invaded the South and quickly took over the government breaking the treaty.
In Cambodia the communist leader Pol Pot led a revolution against the American backed government of Lon Nol. On April 17 1975 his forces captured Phnom Penh the capitol, two years after America had halted the bombings of their positions. His communist government, the Khmer Rouge, moved the citizens into communal housing which led to starvation. The estimated death toll in the genocide ranges between 800,000 and 2.3 million. Vietnam invaded the country in 1979 which led to a long ensuing war between the nations.
Japan's economic growth surpassed the rest of the world in the Seventies. The country expanded on the economic growth it received from elaborate building and job growth as a result of the 1964 Summer Olympics, which were held in Tokyo. National Geographic profiled the Japanese work ethic in a March 1974 cover story entitled "Those Successful Japanese!"
With a rise in technology and a more urgent need to commute for salaried jobs, the Shinkansen became an efficient tool for people to travel cross-country in a rather inexpensive and quick manner. The first "bullet train" was opened between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964, with further extension to Fukuoka in 1975. The Tokyo-Osaka line was key in transporting visitors to Expo '70 in Osaka, where Japan showcased its newest technological achievements.
In 1969, Prime Minister Eisaku Sato negotiated with President Richard Nixon to hand over the island of Okinawa on May 15, 1972. The compromise for the handover was that the United States Armed Forces were still allowed to maintain military bases on the island after Okinawa officially became part of Japan. To celebrate the handover, Expo '75 was held at Okinawa, with an oceanographic theme: "The Sea We Would Like to See".
In 1972, Sato, who was Prime Minister since 1964, decided not to run for a fourth three-year term. He was succeeded by Kakuei Tanaka, whose term as Prime Minister would become one of the most infamous in Japan's modern era.
Just as Richard Nixon was resigning from office in the United States, Tanaka was facing a scandal of his own. The Diet was concerned about his business practices (specifically, he used the name of a geisha he frequented on land deeds). The first witness to be called was his secretary, with whom he had a romantic affair. To save face, he resigned his post late in 1974, and was replaced by Takeo Miki. When news of Tanaka's embezzlement of the Lockheed Corporation's funds reached Japan in 1976, Prime Minister Miki pushed for Tanaka's arrest. Tanaka, who had become a Diet member, responded in kind by removing support from his government, causing him to lose his spot as Prime Minister. Tanaka would spend the rest of the decade endorsing and later removing support from Prime Ministers when he felt his best interests were not served.
The emperor and the rest of his family were not well-received when they made public their intentions of their first ever state visit to Europe in the autumn of 1971. When he arrived in London in October, he was granted an audience with Queen Elizabeth, and in a semi-public appearance, Hirohito stopped short of a full apology for Japan's role during World War II. Instead, he pledged solidarity with the United Kingdom in the new era. The reason Hirohito did not fully apologize was due to factions of opposition in Japan, who believed the nation should become feudal once more and close its borders to the West.
After the ritual suicide of writer Yukio Mishima in November 1970, a vocal opposition emerged, shaking Japan's ruling post-war elite. Therefore, it was in Hirohito's best interests not to make a full apology, which would have been the only solution that would have appeased hostile opinion against Japan in Europe. Hirohito's statement was subsequently seen as a slap in the face by many war veterans. Hirohito received an equally unfavorable response when he visited Queen Juliana in Amsterdam in November.
Soviet Union/ Eastern Bloc
The Seventies in the Soviet Union were in a distinct cultural and economic era known as the Brezhnev era. The Communist Party Secretary, at this time, was Leonid Brezhnev, who had been at the helm in the USSR since 1964. The Soviet Union became the world's leading producer in steel, and oil. During this period wages were doubled which led to more focusing on personal lives rather than the traditional "Communist ideal". Despite this growth, inflation continued to grow for the second straight decade, and production consistently fell short of demand in agriculture and manufacturing. The USSR began to import grain from the United States, which expanded production "fence row to fence row". Consumer goods remained hard to get.
In People's Republic of Poland, the seventies were the Gierek decade, when under the leadership of Edward Gierek massive loans were channeled into raising the people's standard of living. On 16 October 1978 an event that would shape not only Poland's fate but that of the entire world took place: Karol Wojtyła, a Polish cardinal, was elected Pope, becoming Pope John Paul II.
In 1971, Erich Honecker was chosen to lead the German Democratic Republic, a role he would fill for the whole of the 1970s and 1980s. The mid-1970s were a time of extreme recession for East Germany, and as a result of the country's higher debts, consumer goods became more and more scarce. If East Germans had enough money to procure a television set, a telephone, or a Trabant automobile, they were placed on waiting lists which caused them to wait as much as a decade for the item in question.
Enver Hoxha's rule in Albania was characterized in the 1970s by growing isolation, first from a very public schism with the Soviet Union the decade before, and then by a split in friendly relations with China in 1978. Albania normalized relations with Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia in 1971, and attempted trade agreements with other European nations, but was met with vocal disapproval by the governments in Washington and London.
At the start of the decade, President Richard Nixon proved to be popular with the American people, in that he sent the last American troops from Vietnam, and took the first steps to normalizing relations with China and the Soviet Union, both of which he visited in 1972. Nixon started the process known as détente when he joined the SALT I talks and eventually signed the treaty with Leonid Brezhnev. His high approval ratings led him to be overwhelmingly re-elected in the 1972 election against George McGovern. However, the Watergate scandal erupted soon after which put the entire Nixon administration in jeopardy. Nixon became the first President to resign his post, in 1974, and received a pardon for his involvement in the scandal by new President Gerald Ford later that year, a move which was seen by many as unfavorable.
Ford's pardoning of Nixon, coupled with economic troubles felt by nearly every segment of the American population, cost him the 1976 election, in which he was soundly beaten by Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer and former Governor of Georgia. One of the key events that turned the tide in Carter's favor was an embarrassing blunder on Ford's part, in which he said during a live, televised presidential debate, that Eastern Europe was not under the domination of the Soviet Union. Carter's more personable style resonated with the majority of voters.
Carter did not have any more luck than Ford had in curbing stagflation, as economists had termed it. Carter tried to address the price of imported oil and the subsequent energy dilemmas by creating the United States Department of Energy, but his efforts were largely unsuccessful, leading to the 1979 energy crisis, which was also felt in other parts of the world. Carter's leadership was also challenged abroad, with the aforementioned Iran hostage crisis, arguably the biggest blow to Carter's administration. The hostages were only released when Ronald Reagan took the oath of office on January 20, 1981, succeeding Carter.
The continuing rise of inner-city poverty and crime rates, the Watergate scandal, defeatism in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, stagflation, the hardships of economic recession, the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, and the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979, were just some of the several problems that plagued America in the 1970s. As the economy slipped, the use of recreational drugs increased and mistrust in the American government among blue collar workers grew. In addition, many began to fear purported cults such as the Children of God.
In 1970, the Conservative Party was brought to power under the leadership of Edward Heath. Heath's term was plagued with a number of strikes by nearly every profession (in 1972 alone, nearly 24 million working days were lost due to strikes). His plan to ration electricity for businesses and factories to a mere three days in the work week starting in January 1974 proved almost universally unpopular. In February, miners, with the support of the rail and power unions, went out on strike. Heath called a general election to gauge support, which led to his narrow loss.
Labour was voted back in again, under Harold Wilson, who had led the country from 1964 to 1970. When Wilson retired from the post in 1976, former Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan took over the office. However, failure to assuage the growing energy problem, coupled with rising inflation and unemployment, paved the way for a Tory win in 1979, under Margaret Thatcher's guidance. The world first took notice of Thatcher in 1975 when she became the first woman leader of the Tories; she was subsequently featured on the cover on TIME. Thatcher's rise to Prime Minister, at the tail end of the Seventies, ushered in a new era of change that would become the trademark of what the Eighties represented throughout the world.
During the Seventies, support for the British royal family was thought to have dwindled, but the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977 assuaged the family's fears of being irrelevant in a more modern Britain. Elaborate parades and street parties were thrown in the Queen's honour, and the Queen met with millions of her subjects on a tour throughout the Commonwealth. In spite of such widespread support, an emerging class of people voiced opposition to the monarchy, epitomized in the Sex Pistols' song "God Save the Queen". About two thousand people died in political violence between the police, British army and paramilitary groups during the seventies.
Hong Kong stepped on its way to evolving into an international financial centre in the 1970s. During this period, the promotion of social welfare improved the living standard of Hong Kong people, at the same time attracting foreign investments into this city.
In Australia, the seventies was a defining decade. After 23 years of rule under various Coalition Prime Ministers, the Labor Party under Gough Whitlam was elected under the slogan "It's Time", a group of people singing for the end of the Coalition government. Whitlam brought sweeping education reforms including free University places, and Medibank (later Medicare), the first fully public hospital system. The Whitlam government was also pro-multicultrual and supported greater immigration during their term.
However, after all of Whitlam's social reforms, the government was nearly broke. The Coalition under Malcolm Fraser took advantage of a newly-acquired majority in the Senate and drove the public service to near bankruptcy by refusing to allow the passage of money bills through the Senate. In response, Whitlam was controversially dismissed as Prime Minister by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr during the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.
Despite these moves, Fraser toed a not too dissimilar line of politics, despite predictions of the conservative Murdoch press and his party. He did make cuts to public spending to reign in inflation and the defecits caused by the Whitlam government. He also formed Medibank Private to reduce the strain in the public hospital system. However, he introduced Special Broadcasting Service to ensure a multicultural representation on TV, and supported the end of Apartheid in South Africa.
- Decade nostalgia
- That '70s Show
- I Love the '70s — A BBC (UK) and VH1 (U.S.) Television program
- MTV's The 70s House
- ^ John Fowles (1970). The French Lieutenant's Woman.
- Burrows, Terry. ITV's Visual History of the Twentieth Century. London: Carlton Books Ltd., 1999. 350–419.
- Crosby, Alfred W. (1995). "The Past and Present of Environmental History". The American Historical Review 100 (4), 1177–1189
- Nostalgia Central — The Premier Internet Guide to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s
- Museum of the '70s - eclectic collection/blog of cultural and literary reference points from the 1970s
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