The '70s
Camouflage for the 20th and three quarters century

Nite Owl: But the country is disintegrating. What's happened to America? What's happened to The American Dream?
Comedian: It came true. You're lookin' at it.

Ah, the Seesaw Seventies/Sordid Seventies: A time when love was free, peace was the sign of the times, people were shouting "me, me, me" through self-esteem, self-discovery and individual identity, and polyester was the fabric of choice. A period in history where the men wear polyester leisure suits with flaring trouser cuffs and huge ties while sporting heavily sprayed and manicured hair, sideburns included. Not to be outdone, the women wore feathered, Farrah Fawcett hair above their slinky dresses with no bras underneath. Black people sported a huge, poofy Funny Afro as a Take That! to past straightening practices. Heck, even white people had afros if they could grow them! Most people spent at least 92 percent of their waking lives at the disco or behind the wheel of a car big enough to tow the Titanic. Disco music with a tense "waka-chu-waka" beat often plays during chase scenes, or on pornos.

Elsewhere, Western Terrorists (and the Arab ones) are trying to blow up people, the US is still losing in The Vietnam War, and the blockbuster movie is invented, twice. Media Technology reaches a turning point, as 8-track audio cassettes and the first VCRs (U-matic in 1971, Betamax in 1975 and VHS in 1976,) appear for the first time, as do the first Laserdiscs (1978), the very first optical disc storage medium, and the very same technology that would later make CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray possible. However despite the new media technology, the old media technologies, namely the LP and Film are both still king as they had been for most of the 20th century. Movies such as Taxi Driver and The Godfather begin to deal with subjects once considered taboo due to the loosening censorship laws, and pornographic film becomes legal. The world learns the meaning of Kung Fu thanks to a tough little guy from Hong Kong named Bruce Lee, while Evel Knievel Ramp Jumped everything from cars and trucks to double-decker buses and river canyons.

Television is changed forever by such ground breaking shows as All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Saturday Night Live and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Meanwhile gentle family shows like The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams found their own audience while The Fonz was ruling the kid's imagination while giving Robin Williams his big time start as the master comedian in Mork & Mindy. Meanwhile, Star Trek: The Original Series is Vindicated by Cable and develops a sizable fanbase, spawning a juggernaut franchise that would not die for... well, ever. While the kids have made the best of The Dark Age of Animation with Saturday Morning Cartoons like Superfriends and Scooby-Doo, they at least had PBS's breakthrough kids shows, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street in their vibrant glory of its youth before they graduated to The Electric Company (1971), Zoom and The Big Blue Marble. Traditional TV genres like the variety show had their last hurrah like Sonny And Cher and Donny And Marie while The Muppet Show became a universally hailed worldwide success.

The Bronze Age of Comic Books begins, featuring death, politics, and "ethnic" superheroes for the first time ever since The Comics Code crippled the medium in the 1950s. That happened when Stan Lee wrote a government requested anti-drug Spider-Man story, which the code was dumb enough to refuse to authorize, forcing Lee to diplomatically defy them to considerable praise.

Punk Rock and Disco, two genres of music which continue to influence music to this day come out during this decade, as does the first primitive electronic music under such bands as the German Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra from Japan and Suicide from New York City. The break up of The Beatles however was the defining moment of the music era as it created a power vacuum for any aspiring musician to make it big. The early years of the decade nonetheless, are considered to be the zenith of Hard Rock (and rock music, in general), as easy listening was off the charts and modern pop music wouldn't drive rock from the "top-40" until 1976. Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Rap Music took their first steps here too.

While this began late in The '60s, the '70s also changed the world completely, shaping it to its form nowadays. The Cold War slows down as American and Soviet relations improve for the first time since 1945. American distrust for authority while brewing during the war, suddenly appears in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Crime and grime are on the rise and respect for law and order - from both criminals and their victims - begins to decline in favour of the good old fashioned "heads blown off" method.

The botched Apollo 13 mission (1970) (Although the feat of getting the astronauts home alive was hailed as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for NASA), the Munich Olympics massacre (1972) and the American defeat in Vietnam (ended in 1975) broke forever the sense of security and confidence Westerners had from 1946, although it began to crumble with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy (in 1963), Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy (both in 1968). Munich was notorious for introducing mass awareness of terrorism and the fallibility of basic security, and it was just the beginning. The energy crisis has Westerners running out of gas for the first time, showing the world just how dependent we all are on the Middle East, thus the post war economic boom that dominated The '50s and The '60s ends in recession, turning the American manufacturing Belt into the "rust belt". The welfare state-based economy begun with the New Deal loses support and gets replaced by the next decade with the lassez-faire "New Economy"; heavily dependent of the banking industry, with its effects of mass speculation making finances more exciting — and risky.

The environmental movement gains rapid speed as a result of the fuel shortages. In 1970, the first Earth Day is held, and in 1971, Greenpeace is founded. Many people worry that the world is on the edge of an environmental catastrophe. Among other things, people go informal with ties and suits being thrown away (except for going to work: "casual fridays" began in The '90s) and fashion rules being eliminated stating that "there are no rules in fashion"; the animal rights movement also has its origin during this period; political correctness is born as well as Moral Guardians raise their voice; single parenthood transitions from taboo to become commonplace while gay rights gain steam; women become an important part of the workplace; divorces quickly begin to outgrow marriages and couples begin to live together without marrying at all.

Covers roughly the period from the Kent State Massacre of 1970 to the election of Ronald Reagan politically (replace with Margaret Thatcher if you're British). Culturally, roughly speaking, it started with the Tate-Labianca murders and the Altamont Free Concert in 1969 and ended with Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979. The most representative years are 1972 through 1978: the years before that still have some baggage left over from the '60s (and, in some cases, even the '50s), while at about 1977 the tropes begin to shift: the sideburns get shorter; mass entertainment (movies especially) moves in the direction of pure escapism for the first time since the mid-'60s; the "women's-lib" movement goes mainstream and loses most of its earlier radicalism; and the (then) avant-garde musical styles of punk, New Wave, heavy metal, and (to a lesser extent) rap start to slowly eclipse the more proletarian or petit bourgeois styles of hard rock, R&B, and soft pop. Much of the sleaze and cynicism of the earlier part of the decade also begins to fade by this time: While disco is sweeping the nation, the Watergate legacy is repudiated by the election of the almost ridiculously idealistic and pure-hearted Jimmy Carter as President, and the rise of the Moral Majority within fundamentalist and evangelical Christian sects does a creditable job of rolling back (for a time, and to a degreenote ) the sexual carnival of the '60s. But, needless to say, neither lasted beyond 1979 (the Carter administration, if not dead on arrival, clearly died with the hostages crisis), setting the bases for the turbulent 1980-1985 period.

A convenient Butt Monkey or Hate Sink for modern observers, being with The Oughts the decade everyone loves to hate (or hates to love), although some consider The Roaring '20s, The '50s and The '80s to be Old Shames. It doesn't help that other "uncomfortable" eras like The Great Depression, The '60s and The '90s have had their redeeming qualities. In later decades however, there have been attempts to rehabilitate the time period in the public mind by portraying more of its liberalism and cultural diversity.

See Also: The Roaring '20s, The Great Depression, The '40s, The '50s, The '60s, The '80s, The '90s, Turn of the Millennium and The New '10s.

Popular tropes from this time period are:

Works that are set (but not made) in this time period are:

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    Anime and Manga 

  • The final issues of the 1980s series The New Adventures of Superboy suggested that Smallville had finally reached the 1970s. The remainder of the book's run saw a plot (unfinished thanks to the book's cancellation) about Smallville's businesses, including the Kents' general store, being threatened by the construction (under shady circumstances) of its first shopping mall. The last issue of the run also sees Lana Lang ask Clark to go with her to see a concert by the Carpenters. Shortly after the title's cancellation, 1985's Superman: The Secret Years (a miniseries telling how Superboy finally changed his name to Superman) had a flashback to Clark's final year of high school, explicitly set in the early 70s. The miniseries itself sees a college-age Clark asked by a roommate to go with him to see the "new Woody Allen film" Annie Hall.
  • Stray Bullets



  • The Big Book Of The 70s (referred to as "the decade where nothing happened", although the chapter on the birth of terrorism is particularly harsh in hindsight)
  • The Julie Albright stories of American Girl were set in San Francisco in 1974 (as much as "Julie Finds a Way" for Nintendo DS and "Julie Saves the Eagles" as a (PC ONLY) CD-ROM game). Unfortunately, the American Girl "Julie Albright" video games were now discontinued partly due to the re-branding of a newer book series. While the (PC ONLY) children's CD-ROM game, "American Girl: Julie Saves the Eagles", is available for download at a abandonware website here, its DS counterpart, "American Girl: Julie Finds a Way", can still be found through web stores such as Amazon and eBay.
  • A great deal of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
  • The unnamed Harry Potter prequel, which takes place three years before Harry's birth, thus was set in 1977.
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Replay - spans 25 years. Several times.
  • Fyra systrar by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren.

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Works that were made in this time period:


    Anime and Manga 


    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

  • Chuck E. Cheese
  • Apple Computer got its start during this time too, although it wouldn't be a serious competitor to IBM until the mid-'80s.
  • Nike adopted its iconic "swoosh" logo in the closing years of the decade.
  • McDonald's brought fast food to the masses, introducing breakfast items on its menu for the first time and opening its first foreign restaurants (first McDonald's in Great Britain in 1974). The Big Mac hamburger (introduced in 1968) first became popular at this time. Ronald McDonald (who had gotten a classy makeover in 1967 with the now-familiar yellow jumpsuit and striped socks) was joined in McDonaldland by his friends Birdie, the Hamburglar, the Grimace (originally an octopus-like creature who loved milkshakes) and the Fry Kids. Mayor McCheese is a relic of this era, nowadays only turning up in parodies.

    Eastern European Animation 


    Han-guk Manhwa Aenimeisyeon 


    Live-Action TV 

  • High Times. Started in 1974.
  • Hustler. Started in 1974.
  • National Lampoon. Started in April, 1970.
  • Playgirl. Started in 1973.
  • Soldier of Fortune. Started in 1975.


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Alternative Title(s): The Seesaw Seventies, The Me Decade