Okay, maybe it’s the geek in me, or perhaps it’s the nerd in me, or a bit of both, but lately my brain seems stuck in the early 1970’s. I swear I’ve been thinking about some of the old sci-fi movies of the time. Some of it, really distopian stuff. THX-1138, Logan’s run (the theatrical one, not that crappy made for TV abortion) 2001 a space odyssey (4 hours of beautiful scenery, even more beautiful music and some of the most boring dialogue since man learned to speak), Space 1999 (a really horrid TV series, full of all kinds of scientific inacuracies and bad acting), Silent Running (beautiful camera work and special effects…the plot is…. “differant”, the music pretty much sucked even for the time period) . In addition Every dream that I can remember from the past few days is full of snippets of typical early 1970’s (late 60’s counts too) progressive architecture. You know the stuff, lots of concrete and stainless steel for commercial and industrial areas, plenty of wood and earth tones for residential, Rounded edges and egg shaped stuff everywhere. Round television sets, egg shaped chairs, oddly shaped tables, computers the size of a VW bus running on magnetic tape with lots of lights and switches the size of your thumb. Monorails were the mass transportation of the future. I know that it is cheesey, but THIS kind of stuff …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVgweNlbKS0 .
I can clearly remember a time when my parent took me to a small college (which from the architecture I assume was a liberal arts college, though it could have been something else) though why we were there I am unsure, and why on a rainy overcast day, which for some reason I remember as a sunday morning/early afternoon (why that is important I am unsure, but there it is anyway) even more so.
I think that in a very real way, the early 1970’s formed some of the foundations of my personality. The microprocessor was yet to be invented, or at the very least common enough to be affordable to anyone but large corporations and the military. It was a time when I was entranced by the wonder of science and discovery. In a few short years we had gone from earth bound to putting a man on the moon. There was talk of space stations and manned missions to mars. We invisioned ourselves as using science for the betterment of mankind, to make our lives easier, yet there was also the stern warning about letting technology becoming our ruler, or the tool of tyrants, both personal and burocratic. Our future seemed unbound, captivating, unsure, yet optomistic. Small semi intelligent robots would help us in our daily lives, the computer would free us for less mundane things, everyone would have a vidphone and televisions would be…well pretty much what we have today, wall sized and constantly on, with hundreds of channels to choose from. Large corporations like Dow and Monsanto were working on a better future for mankind (yeah right). Huge displays of “The City of The Future” were pretty common place at museums and corporate PR opportunities. Even Walt Disney got in on the act, and this was before the first spade of earth was turned at the future site of EPCOT (which BTW Walt himself NEVER intended to be an amusement park. EPCOT was supposed to mean Experimental Prototype City Of Tommorrow).
In a very real way I suppose we were hedonists living vicariously through our own fantasy future. Sex was supposed to be easy and non commital (unless you wanted to) STDs were apparently non existant, much less having one that could kill you.
Only the drones had mundane industrial jobs. Regular people lived in glass and concrete structures with enough stainless steel (or wood, depending) to to deplete a decent sized mine (or forest). I’m pretty sure that the makers of Earth Toned fabric dyes and paints were planning on having to work overtime every day for the rest of their lives.
Seriously, some of the architecture of the time makes the father on “The Brady Bunch” look like a real hack. 2 bedrooms and one bathroom for 6 kids? yet he still had a study, a living room and a den, as well as giving Alice her own mini apartment. What were the ceilings in the living room/dining room anyway? About 20 ft tall? 30 foot? I mean take a good look at the staircase, that thing is huge! They could have hidden the entire London Philharmonic in the space between the two floors. Ah, but I digress. It was the time of walls of glass, rooms without any doors, or pocket doors, or bead curtains instead of doors…open floor plans for comunal living areas, and sometimes private areas as well. I always did rather like that architectural time period. I also like the mini skirts! Even as a child I thought that they were “cute” and showed off a nice leg quite well. I especiallyliked the long hair that was popular for girls to wear. I don’t care what anybody says, the mini skirts of the 80’s just weren’t the same, and I never did care for the “big hair” look. The plaid pants, and polyester shirts, however should be burned on a funeral pyre never to return.
I’m not sure, but I think that our attitude as a society changed in that 10 or so years. The hippies became yuppies. One college dropout formed what was to become the largest corporation in the world, and make him the richest man alive. His two friends formed a competing company and together today the two pretty much rule the computer industry. The 1970’s were full of inovation and speculation, while the 1980’s were that inovation being used and abused.
Where are the monorails? Where are the flying cars, or the underground homes? Where is our space station (no no, not that cobbled together monstrosity that we have up there now, I want the one from 2001 a space odyssey! ie a REAL space station!) Where are our interplanetrary spacecraft ferrying people to distant colonys? Where are the scantily clad women who appear out of my non existant holo machine? WTF is my holo machine? Where is my “devistangly handsome and always fit and healthy” pill? I want one of those! Dammit science promised us! Where is our automatic cars? Hop on the freeway, push a button and take a nap while computers drive you safely to your desination. In the 1950’s they promised it to us by 1984! It’s nearly 3 decades late dammit! Wasn’t everything supposed to be run off of electricity made cheap by efficent nuclear energy? My electricity bill last month nearly put me in the dammed poor house! AND I happen to know that it was made by burning coal. I’m in OKLAFUCKING HOMA, THE HEART of petrochemical drilling heaven, where the fuck does all this coal come from? It sure isn’t here!
Where are all of those cool looking dodecohedron shaped shipping containers that you always see on sci fi movies of the time? Yeah, I know, they are terribly space inefficant and they really suck for stacking, but they looked cool! They screamed modern and space aged. instead, my stuff still comes packaged in cardboard (it usually tastes like it too) and poly vinyl chlorides (PVC) with styrafoam for packing.
Yes, yes, I agree that we have the internet and things far more technologically advanced than was even dreamed of at the time. But are we better for it? or worse?