The hippie culture of the late 1960s carried over into the new decade and the countercultural ideas that seemed radical in the 60s assimilated into mainstream society. Drug usage became more about escaping reality than rebelling against authority as the popularity of pot and LSD increased. Bell-bottomed jeans, flower prints, and platform shoes reigned supreme. Fashion trends at the time were heavily influenced by movies and music groups.
Hostility toward the government and big business increased dramatically during this time. In 1970, 4 students were shot by the National Guard at Kent State University during a protest against the Vietnam War and inspired the song “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. The Watergate Scandal of the early 70s only elevated public outrage and distrust of the government and led to President Nixon’s resignation.
During a 1972 trip to North Vietnam, Jane Fonda propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government and declared that American POWs were being treated humanely while condemning U.S. soldiers as “war criminals.” She later stated that any who claimed to have been tortured were lying.
John Travolta’s dancing feet in Saturday Night Fever inspired many men to rock the 3-piece suit and helped popularize disco music. The sounds of ABBA, Donna Summers, and the Bee Gees bumped in the night clubs as people hustled and jived on the dance floor.
After the death of Elvis and the break-up of the Beatles, rock music experienced some drastic changes. Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Fleetwood Mac brought soft rock/pop music to the airwaves and The King of Pop made his first appearance with the Jackson 5. The British influence remained alive and well thanks to bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Black Sabbath.
On television we saw (and heard) our first toilet on CBS’s ‘All in the Family,’ which also made room for other thought-provoking sitcoms like M*A*S*H, an anti-war social commentary taking place in a war zone, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, about a liberated, single woman. ‘Maude’, a spin-off from ‘All in the Family’ was the first person to use the ‘B-word’ on broadcast television, and the first sitcom character to have an abortion.
If you didn’t feel like listening to the radio anymore there were plenty of other things to do in the 1970s like playing with your Pet Rock or raising a family of Sea Monkeys. You could spend hours playing “Pong,” or just staring at the lava lamp in front of the blacklight velvet poster on the wall.
If latch-hooking or racquetball just weren’t for you, you could check out some pretty far out movies. The 1970s saw the rise of the blockbuster with films like Jaws and Star Wars. Movies like Annie Hall conveyed feministic ideals, sparking some women to dress in tweed jackets and ties while Apocalypse Now and Deer Hunter expressed the anti-war sentiments leftover from the 1960s.
Musically, the late 70s brought ‘new wave’, punk rock and technopop into the mainstream, replacing the disco tapes in your Sony Walkman. By the end of the 1970’s, Jane Fonda had been, for the most part, forgiven, and millions bought her ‘Jane Fonda’s Workout VHS Tape’ and Book.
On a greener note, society became increasingly aware of the environment and the United States celebrated its first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Despite the political turmoil, oil crises, and economic instability, the 1970s were still a pretty dyn-o-mite time.