Tin Soldiers & Nixon’s Coming: How ‘Bout Those ’70s?


The old days: blinded by tire smoke … Soup File

It’s said that today’s young people love their 1970s nostalgia. But, then, anyone who didn’t actually live through them would.

“The kids these days.” Every generation has had to hear that phrase spoken to them with a certain amount of derision by the generation preceding them. And why not? Every follow-up generation invariably does things differently than their parents. It’s a Fact of Life that was probably the subject of many a speech by Mrs. Garrett to Tootie, Natalie, Jo, and the rest of her Eastland School brood.

Generational marketing has become big business in our capitalist society. How to appeal to the younger generation–with their disposable incomes, cynicism, and questionable brand loyalty–is a key to dragging us out of this sinkhole of an economy in which we’re still languishing.

Have you noticed that who you are and what you stand for has pigeonholed you as “a dork” by, um, “the kids these days”? But, magically, your parents, aka, your kids’ grandparents, are cool because they are from the 60s and the 70s?

Kids love the 1970s. Those of the metalflake, open-face helmets (ever seen a bad chin impact?); the skinny, crappy, bias-ply tires; the Bates leathers; and the racers with the duct tape on their knees instead of proper knee pucks. Those things are cool to our kids.

But then, our kids didn’t have to live through the 1960s and 1970s as kids, like we did. They weren’t taken to the drive-in in the summer of 1970 to see “Easy Rider,” only to be emotionally scarred by that heroin-tripping scene in the New Orleans cemetery with Peter Fonda clutching the above-ground tomb and chanting, “Mommy, mommy…” I haven’t been the same since then, but my kid, oh yeah, he thinks I’m “a dork.”

Well, no wonder. Later in that movie, some toothless hick in a pickup shot Dennis Hopper right off his bike. I can’t get over something like that. I was 10 when I saw that, and my parents in the front seat of the ’68 GTO telling me to “get down in the back seat” did not prevent me from hearing the gunshot or popping up just in time to see Peter Fonda trying to make a U-turn with that crazy-ass, no-front-brakes chopper, then get himself blasted into the field by that same toothless hick in that same pickup.

“The kids these days” didn’t live through that kind of stuff. It was bad, man, just bad. And, by “bad,” I don’t mean “good.”

 


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