Fenton Bailey writes:
Tonight I’m off to watch Poseidon. The first film I ever made was a remake of The Poseidon Adventure with my dad’s 8mm camera. We had a boat – a dinghy – and turned it over in the local creek. It was a YouTube kinda mash-up, somehow ending with me as Gloria Swanson at the end of Sunset Boulevard. And you wonder.
The more important point here is that it’s all about the ’70s again. Just as That 70s Show finishes, we are beginning to unpack the pivotal importance of this much-maligned decade. The Bronx Is Burning tells the story of New York in 1977: the summer of the Son of Sam, the blackout, and Ed Koch becoming mayor. The whole thing is threaded together with the story of baseball legend Reggie Jackson.
Then there are books about Watergate and the Iranian hostage crisis (which began in the ’70s but so tellingly ended in the ’80s) Of these the best so far is Andrew Killen’s 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America, making fascinating connections between fear of flying (from Erica Jong to Arthur Hailey), the advent of reality programming (from the Loud family drama in An American Family to the First Family drama in the Watergate hearings), and the hysterical demise of Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick and no less hysterical kidnapping of Patty Hearst. The only fault in the book is that most of the seminal stuff happened in 1972. Which is why it’s good news that there’s gonna be a book all about 1972 called 1972 : The First Year of the 21st Century by Dominic Patten. The book may not be out yet, but it already has a website.
1972 was an extraordinary year that gave birth to the times we live in today. You can draw a direct line from the terror at the Munich Olympics to September 11, 2001. From Richard Nixon’s trip to China and détente, to the collapse of Communism and Globalization. From the release of THE GODFATHER to the international distribution and Box Office of the latest summer blockbuster. From playing PONG to Grand Theft Auto. From the Porn Chic of DEEP THROAT to Jenna Jameson and the $12 billion Porn industry of today. And it was the year of Richard Nixon’s overwhelming re-election, the melding of a new coalition and the remaking of the political landscape that stills determines who gets in the White House today.
– Fenton Bailey