Monday, March 19, 2012

The 1970s: Chico and the Man/All That Glitters

So by the early-to-mid 1970s, there were all these mass-culture TV shows exploring socio-economic class, race, ethnicity, and gender. In the wake of the US-Vietnam War and the upheavals of the 1960s, this was a pensive time, with a mix of experimentation and philosophizing. Could people get along beyond the confines of their culturally driven self-identities?

Two shows I caught but didn't watch religiously: Chico and the Man (1974-1978), starring Freddie Prinze (1954-1977) and Jack Albertson (1907-1981); and All That Glitters (1977).  The first was a spiritual cousin to All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and early Sesame Street (1969-present), only with a young Latino dude building a connection with an older dispeptic Anglo in East L.A., supplemented by various other antics. By about fifteen years, it prefigured the Rodney King plea, "Can't we all just get along?"  All That Glitters was a soap opera-ish romp that inverted maintstream gender roles, so that it was a Woman's Woman's Woman's World. In other words, a mix of science fiction, fantasy and satire. The idea was to point out how generally patriarchal and one-sided the accepted status quo was up to that time -- the "double standard."

What's the legacy today? Apparently Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney -- among others who might have been aware of these series -- missed the boat, the train, the car and the plane. Apparently they've rejected all of it. On the other hand, Clint Eastwood brought a sort of updated version of these 70s cultural awakenings back to market in 2008, with Gran Torino. And thanks to the 2008 election in the USA, Barack Obama is president and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Where there's a will, there's a way; where there's no will, no way.

Today's Rune: Signals.      

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