Apollo 13 launching from Earth

Highlights of the Major Pop Culture Trends of the 1970s

An era marked by the activism of all sorts, society in the 1970s was becoming more woke, free to the individual sense, and politically more driven. The Vietnam War came to an end with the ordinarypeople vouching for peace movements and refusing to send their fellows on any other voyage that would see the economy crumble and raise the death toll of their beloved soldiers. Movements such as environmentalism and feminism took strongholds, and people were finally giving up the hippie culture that they had adopted in the 60s.

Let’s take delve into the pop culture of the 1970s.

MOVIES

a scene from the Godfather depicting Vito Corleone and Michael Corleone

Hollywood became the brand it is today in this decade. The cinema became a force to be reckoned with. The 70s saw the rise of various male and female performers who would go on to dominate the world of acting for as long as they lived. Here are some movies from the 1970s that are probably still unmatched due to the sheer intelligence put into them. These movies marked the greatness of the American cinema in the 70s.

  • A Clockwork Orange was released in 1971. Its troubling theme and the explicit depiction of the horrors that gripped the American culture made the movie stand out. It received critical affirmation and was a major upgrade on the psychological thrillers the country had experienced to date.
  • The French Connection was a movie that had it all and won it all. The movie was another addition to the thriller category anti-mafia movies the cinema was delving into.
  • To date, The Godfather ranks as one of the most highly rated movies of all time. The film was about the life of a mafia leader and was full of violence. Yet, it was the highest-grossing movie in American history, contradicting the activists’ cries of peace and exposing the desire of a cultural transformation that the people looked forward to.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was another psychological thriller that went on to win five Academy Awards in one night, was called the best movie of all time by critics, and still ranks 33rd in the 100 most hit movies of all time.
  • Sylvester Stallone, in and as Rocky,made the Americans fall in love with boxing and started a culture of fitness. The movie went on to win three Oscars and other various awards.
  • The world-famous franchise Star Wars premiered its fourth and fifth episodes and went on to win various Emmy, Golden Globe, and Peabody Awards for its use of special effects unparalleled by others.
  • By the end of the decade Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered on the silver screen and set a path for another world-famous franchise.

MUSIC 

the four members of the band Led Zeppelin

The 70s was an iconic era for the American music industry. Progressive rock dominated the industry and saw various bands and solo artists create havoc through this genre. The listener had a range to choose from, and different genres were available for all types of music listeners. The following are some landmark music developments that left their mark.

  • Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors was the bestselling album of the decade, giving an insight into the genre that gripped the people in the 70s.
  • The 70s saw the British band Led Zeppelin rise to skies on their Stairway to Heaven when the song became an emblem of rock and roll in American culture. The song features the most played guitar solo of all time and marks the genius Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are. With their golden locks entangling the audience in their magic, Led Zeppelin was the face of rock music in the 70s.
  • Another British Artist Elton John kept on achieving new heights and made people in the UK and the US fall in love with rock and pop.
  • Stevie Wonder amazed the crowd with his second album Innervisionsthat was a major hit.
  • Aerosmith became popular, and their lead singer Stephen Tyler was compared to the legendary Mick Jagger in a lot of ways.
  • Michael Jackson appeared on stage with his solo Don’t Stop tillYou Get Enough in 1979, and he then went on to become the king of pop in a very short time. His legacy would continue forever and remain unmatched in terms of the showman he was.
  • The Queen rocked the world with their new release,Wewill Rock You, and started to incorporate music into sports.
  • Pink Floyd gained success with their tribute song for their former drummer Syd Barrett called Shine on You Crazy Diamond. By the end of the decade, their multi-award-winning album The Wall with its single Another Brick in the Wall topped all charts and made pink Floyd one of the greatest psychedelic rock bands of all time.
  • Hotel California kicked in the country-rock genre and allowed the general population to experience the full force of this genre. The guitar solo is a piece of beauty, and The Eagles maintained their high standards with this song.
  • Saturday Night Fever swept everyone in the US off their feet and made BEE GEES the most successful band disco genre has ever offered the world.
  • The Bee Gees came up with their super hit album Spirits Having Flown, which set them parallel to the Beatles and Elvis Presley when they had a run of 6 US chart-toppers in only a year. This album made disco the most popular genre of the 70s.

TELEVISION SHOWS

Meredith Baxter and David Birney from the show Bridget Loves Bernie

The American television industry thrived on sitcoms and family shows that touched rather obscene topics but maintained a high level of humor. The country was stuck in with shows like All in the Family, Happy Days, Bridget loves Bernie, and many other classics such as these. In the following list, we will discuss some of the TV shows that occupied the primetime TV slots for the decade.

  • All in the Family was the most-watched show of the decade. It had eight seasons and ran for the whole of the 70s let the people view a middle-class man’s life and the intricacies involved with it.
  • Happy Days wasanother sitcom that occupied the primetime television slot for quite some while and kept people glued to the screens.
  • Bridget Loves Bernie brought the interfaith marriage of a Catholic girl and a Jewish man on the screen. It was another sitcom that was well received by the audience.
  • Laverne and Shirley continued the dominance of the sitcom genre in the 70s. The show had high ratings for two years and gave plenty of reasons for its viewers to enjoy their evening time.

FASHION

two women and a man

Termed as the ‘polyester decade,’ the 70s was a big transformation from the hippie culture to the modern culture. Men and women wore tight fitted outfits with platform shoes and went around in bright colors.

  • The decade saw women wear brightly colored,tight fitted Women were seen wearing pants all the time, and with every passing year, the size of their bottoms kept on increasing.
  • Bell bottoms were everywhere.
  • The decade saw a rise in the number of women working in corporate jobs, which increased the number of women wearing suits. This was seen as a fashion statement and a symbol of empowerment.
  • Long straight hair was the preferred choice with little to no jewelry.
  • Pants for men kept on getting tighter with wide-open collars.
  • Two types of suits were preferred; the leisure suits and the tracksuits.
  • Velour and Terry cloth became the choice of cloth for Men’s shirts.

ART

Eric Fischl

The art revolved around the popular movements of that time. New forms of art like photography, graffiti, feminist art, and environmental art was incorporated into the culture. Here are some major developments related to art during the 70s.

  • Impressed by the hip-hop disco culture, Michael Craig Martin took graffiti to a whole new level.
  • Neo-expressionism was a new form of art.
  • With the development of the digital camera, Eric Fischl provided a new way to look at things, making photography a new form of art.
  • Robert Smithson with his Spiral Jetty and Walter De Maria with his New York Earth Room and lightening fields,introduced land art, becoming a part of the environmentalist movement.
  • With the women’s liberation movement, feminist art addressed the concerns of women hood. Judy Chicago’s dinner party and Barbara Kroger’s text-based slogan work caused much up to heal.

TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE

the Apple II with a cassette deck and game paddles

In the 1970s, science and technology reached new heights with NASA taking the lead with its space missions and the development of the modern computer becoming a reality. People were driven by a consumerist culture that desired new advancements, which would make their lives more luxurious and easier. Different technology giants were attracted to the large US market of the middle class that was not afraid to take loans and buy new accessories, no matter what the cost of the product. The following are some technological advancementsof the 1970s.

  • The Intel made the first programmable microprocessor 4004 and released it in the market, beginning the journey towards the modern computer that we know of today.
  • In 1971 the computer programmer Ray Tomlinson sent the first email to himself, marking the start of a never-ending email culture in the world. He later won various awards.
  • The Apple II was released by Steve Wozniak, establishing the firm as a computer company that would go on in the future to be one of the most successful companies of all time.
  • Sony released its Walkman that was a new invention at that time. It came at a high price at that time, but because people were always listening to music, it soon became a necessity, and sales were high.
  • The C programming language first appeared in the 1970s.
  • TRS-80, a microcomputer, was launched by the Tandy corporations and sold through their Radio Shack stores. It was a major success in the 1970s.
  • Eastman Kodak and Steve Sassoon released the first digital camera in 1975, assembling parts of older cameras.
  • NASA launched its Voyager 1 and Voyager II that went on to collect data from Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune and remains functional to date.
  • The first GPS was launched in the 70s, marking the beginning of the greatest scientific invention of the time.
  • The first genetically engineered insulin was made in California and was made available to help the diabetics.

RADIO

The radio played a major role in molding the culture of the 70s. Many radio stations shifted to the FM band as the orientation towards playing music increased. By the end of the decade,the FM audience had surpassed those of AM. FM covered music, politics, and other entertainment-related sectors.

  • ABC started four new radio networks with each one focused on a different format, and in no time, it was serving more than twice as many affiliates as the single network had enjoyed earlier.
  • In the early 1970s,National Public Radio appeared as the first National network expanding news and culture. It was supported by corporate and individual donations plus some state tax revenues. It went on to air the highly popular All Things Considered, a public affairs program that helped developed NPR a loyal audience.

CARS

Ford Pinto

Sitting behind an expensive wheel became the new common in America in the 70s. People were looking for cars that were fuel-efficient and yet powerful. Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, and Chevrolet all dominated the market, and the competition was killing. Foreign investors saw the big market the US was and took full advantage of the situation. The car companies also faced massive challenges to reduce the smog and keep the power of the engine the same.

  • The year 1971 saw the foreign companies Volkswagen, Toyota, and Datsun,defeat localcar companies on all fronts. The sales of imported cars were unmatched by any local producer.
  • The United States government made it necessary for the car producers to increase the safety of passengers andpassed bills such as the 5-mph bumper impact to make efforts to reduce the emission of nitrogen waste gases that were being produced by the engines.
  • In 1973 GM Vega, Ford Pinto, and other compact cars won the race and defeated the likes of Volkswagen.
  • Car companies continued to boast of environment-friendly engines, but the buyer complained that the cars didn’t start in winters due to weaker engines.
  • There was a gasoline shortage in 1973, and companies were looking to produce other types of engines. The GM produced a Wankel-powered rotary engine car, the Chevrolet Vega, by 1975.
  • BMW introduced the three series in this decade.
  • The Chevrolet Impala lead sales for two consecutive years, beating every other car at all fronts.

SPORTS

basketball player Julius Erving

People were indulged in mostly outdoor games such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and tennis. Here is how sports shaped the 70s era.

  • At the start of the decade, baseball was struggling due to the high number of scandals, bad owner and player relations, and the high amount of corruption.
  • Curt Flood filed a lawsuit against the ST. Louise Cardinals, when he was traded to Philadelphia Phillies against his will, demanding the right to choose where and for whom he would play. Flood lost the case due to the anti-trust laws in the MLB.
  • Over the decade,Marvin Miller changed the way major league traded and treated its players. With this, baseball entered an era of success.
  • Basketball players saw an increase of 250% in their salaries; however, the fan interest was dwindling in the league due to high ticket prices and racism.
  • Julius Erving, also known as Dr. J, was the biggest ABA star in the country. He invented a new style of offensive play that would later be translated into perfection by Michael Jordan.
  • In the early 70s,the Miami Dolphins started a dynasty that was finished by Pittsburg stealers in 1974.
  • Jack Nicklaus appeared on the stage and soon took over the gold world with his mesmerizing skills.
  • In the 1972 Winter Olympics, the US won 8 medals, including three gold medals, all won by women.
  • In the summer Olympics,the US went on to win 93 medals, 33 of them gold with 12 world records in the process. Mark Spitz was the star of the pool with 7 Gold Medals for the United States.

NEWS

Senator Edmund Muskie speaking at the First Earth Day in 1970

The war in Vietnam had ended, and the US economy started to improve again. The local population in the US suffered due to a lack of employment opportunities and low pay scales.  The oil shortage hit the US hard as fuel prices went up, and products became more costly. NASA suffered some major setbacks, and airplane disasters continued to happen. Let us see what major events defined the 1970s.

  • Apollo 13 met an accident, but the crew managed to survive and did a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa.
  • The United States invade Cambodia on President Nixon’s orders.
  • First Earth Day was celebrated and gave rise to the environmentalist activism in the country.
  • One hundred thousand people demonstrated in Washington DC against the Vietnam War, giving rise to the antiwar culture and making the government promote peace.
  • The United States lowered the voting age from 21 years to 18 years when President Nixon signed the bill.
  • Concord made its first supersonic flight, but soon an outcry from environmentalists caused its flight operation to stop due to the noise pollution the jets created.
  • Camp David Accords were signed in 1978 between Egypt and the Israeli Prime Minister. This took place in Washington, DC, and the American President was present while the deal was signed.
  • OPEC placed an Oil Embargo resulting in an increase in the oil prices and shortage of oil in the US.

LITERATURE

Toni Morrison in 2008

Books were a prominent part of the pop culture in the 70s. Although television, music, and disco were the main focus of people, literature found its way through and never really died. Writers such as Stephen King, Tony Morrison, J.R.R Tolkien, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez continued to mesmerize the population with their masterpieces. Here are some books that were found on every bookshelf in America.

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Hundred Years of Solitude was released in the US and became a major hit soon. People related to magical realism instantly, and the book became a household name in entire America.
  • Stephen King came up with The Shinning and threw everyone off their ground. It’s a masterpiece to date and a widely read book.
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving was a best seller.
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien was another best seller in the 70s
  • Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison started the movement for African American people.
  • Stephen King wrote The Stand, and it became an immediate success.

CONCLUSION

The 1970s is a misunderstood decade in American history and culture. Where on the one hand, people were rocking in discos, and consumerism was at its peak. On the other hand, protests against war and environmental damage were also taking place. The country was going through a period where a lot was changing in fashion, art, and politics.The 1970s can be called a decade of progress at all levels.

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