From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In the Western world, the focus shifted from the social activism of the sixties to social activities for one's own pleasure, save for environmentalism, which continued in a very visible way. The seventies were characterized by the writer Tom Wolfe as the "Me Decade."
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 and carried on through the end of the decade. The United States' withdrawal from Vietnam and the resignation of Richard Nixon helped bring about a sense of malaise.
The United States experienced 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.
Science, media and technology
The birth of modern computing was in the 1970s, which saw the development of the world's first general microprocessor, rudimentary personal computers, pocket calculators, the first supercomputer, and consumer video games. In consumer goods, microwave ovens and Cassette tapes surged in popularity, and VHS became the dominant video format. Genetic engineering became a commercially viable technology.
Emerging social perspectives
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.
In 1970s European cinema, the failure of the Prague Spring brought about nostalgic motion pictures such as István Szabó's Szerelmesfilm (1970). German New Wave and Rainer Fassbinder's existential movies characterized film-making in Germany. The movies of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman reached a new level of expression in motion pictures like Cries and Whispers (1973).
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. Another Asian touchstone beginning in the early '70s was traditional Hong Kong martial arts film which sparked a greater interest in Chinese martial arts to the West. Martial arts film reached the peak of its popularity largely in part due to its greatest icon, Bruce Lee.
Hollywood emerged from its early 1970s slump with young film-makers taking greater risks and exploring more adult subject matter in movies such as A Clockwork Orange and The Godfather. The nostalgic Love Story was a huge commercial and critical hit. The 1970s saw a rebirth of the action film with movies like The French Connection. Airport was hugely successful and launched a series of disaster-related films, such as Earthquake. Throughout the seventies, the horror film developed into a lucrative genre of film; notable examples include The Exorcist, The Omen, Halloween, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Blaxploitation also emerged as a genre. Top-grossing Jaws(1975) ushered in the blockbuster era of film-making, though it was eclipsed two years later the science-fiction epic Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977).
In the United Kingdom, color channels were now available; three stations had begun broadcasting in color between 1967 and 1969. Notable UK dramas included Play for Today and Pennies From Heaven. The science fiction show Doctor Who reached its peak. Many popular British situation comedies (sit-coms) were gentle, innocent, unchallenging comedies of middle-class life; typical examples were Terry and June, Sykes, and The Good Life. A more diverse view of society was offered by series like Porridge and Rising Damp. In police dramas there was a move towards increasing realism; popular shows included Dixon of Dock Green, Softly, Softly, and The Sweeney.
In the United States, long-standing trends were declining. The Red Skelton Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, long-revered American institutions, were canceled. The "family sitcom" saw its last breath at the start of the new decade with The Brady Bunch. Television was transformed by what became termed as "social consciousness" programming such as All in the Family, which broke down television barriers. The television western, which had been very popular in the 1960s, slowly died out during the 1970s, with The High Chaparral, The Virginian, and Bonanza ending their runs. By the mid- to late 1970s, "jiggle television"--programs centred around sexual gratification and bawdy humor and situations such as Charlie's Angels and Three's Company--became popular. Soap operas expanded their audience beyond housewives with the rise of All My Children and As the World Turns. Game shows such as The Hollywood Squares and Family Feud were also popular daytime television. Another influential genre was the television newscast, which built on its initial widespread success in the 1960s. Finally, the variety show received its last hurrah during this decade, with shows such as The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and Donny & Marie.
Fiction in the the early '70s brought a return to old-fashioned storytelling, especially with Erich Segal's Love Story. 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. Racism remained a key literary subject. John Updike emerged as a major literary figure. Reflections of the 1960s experience also found roots in the literature of the decade through the works of Joyce Carol Oates and Morris Wright. With the rising cost of hard-cover books and the increasing readership of "genre fiction," the paperback became a popular medium. Criminal non-fiction also became a popular topic. Irreverence and satire, typified in Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, were common literary elements. The horror genre also emerged, and by the late seventies Stephen King had become one of the most popular genre novelists.
In nonfiction, several books related to Nixon and the Watergate scandal topped the best-selling lists. 1977 brought many high-profile biographical works of literary figures, such as those of Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Books discussing sex such as Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask were popular as authors took advantage of the lifted censorship laws on literature in the sixties. Exposés such as All the President's Men were also popular. Self-help and diet books replaced the cookbooks and home fix-it manuals that topped the sixties's charts.
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, Massachusetts 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.
Social science intersected with hard science in 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.
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