Sunday, August 28, 2005

The BBC Hypes The 1970s and Youngsters Lap It Up!

The BBC series I Love The 1970s should really have been called I Love 1967 to 1982. Apparently reflecting the pop culture of each 70s year, the things we were "into", the series was often wildly inaccurate, pumping in pop culture from the adjacent decades. I Hype The 1970s would have been a better title. For instance, the Lava Lamp, released in 1964, was featured as a major 70s icon. The reality was that the thing was at the height of its popularity c. 1968/69. In the early 70s, the lamp became deeply naff - so naff Stan and Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street acquired one and proudly placed it on their serving hatch! There was something of a revival midway through the decade, in a post modern tongue-in-cheek style, as Mildred Roper acquired one in the ITV sitcom George & Mildred. But never was the Lava Lamp "cool and cutting edge" in the 70s.

CB radio was featured as THE craze of 1976. It wasn't legal, and not available in England. This American 1940s invention began to arrive here in any appreciable numbers c 1979. Illegal breakers rose steeply in numbers in 1980 and, after a mass rally in London, the date for the legalisation of CB radio was set for the 2nd of November 1981, with the American inventor of the gadget, Al Gross, making the first legal call from a Rolls Royce parked in Trafalgar Square. But the BBC vaunted it as THE craze of 1976. In reality there was simply some interest in the terminology and the beginnings of a campaign to get it legalised here because of a hit record and a couple of American films!

The Space Hopper was popular in the 70s, but had been so since 1968; the Stylophone was released in the late 1960s.

In addition, the I Love The 1970s series boldly stole from the 1980s. Of course, some 80s arrivals were invented in the 70s - time is a constant stream and this is how things are with all decades. But the Walkman (invented in 1979) did not arrive here until 1980 (as the Sony Stowaway) and there were several other items, some unnamed and unmanufactured until the 1980s, wrongly sparkling away as 1970s pop culture in I Love The 1970s.

I don't hate the 70s, but surely it's better not to live a lie about them? I have an uneasy feeling that many of today's youngsters have bought the hype and have a very unrealistic view of the recent past. The fact that they might try and live out a fictional 70s, rather than living in the current day, worries me. Virtual reality lives - a virtual 70s which really never existed in the first place. For some years now, I've been hoping to find a Tardis, bundle our 70s loving kids into it, and sentence them to a week in the real 1970s. I could imagine the shock - where are the hippies? Why are there no personal computers? Why have the lights gone out? NOT paste sandwiches again! etc etc. But at least, on their return, today would seem more attractive to them.

There are things that need doing, issues which the young should be addressing. Stuff the fictitious 70s and get on with it, I say!