BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

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A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

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Welcome to my take on the A to Z Challenge for 2016.  Where last year I brought you the most important aspect of the 1940s, World War II, this year I jump ahead a few decades and bring you the 1970’s.  If you didn’t see my blog reveal post in March, here is what you’ll find over the next 26 days.

Imagine that on December 31, 1979, a group of historians decide to bury a time capsule filled with news events and pop culture phenomena that were symbols of the 1970’s. What would be in this decades old time capsule? You are about to find out because for some reason unknown to anyone but these historians, the time capsule is scheduled to be unearthed on April Fools Day, 2016.  I know you’re curious.  Are you ready for a far out and groovy trip around the 1970’s? You cool cats come back on each of the 26 days where I will blog one or two posts covering two broad categories: News and Noteworthy – People or events that had a lasting impact on the world in the 1970’s.  Pop Culture – The music, film, television, fashion, cars and toys that made up our world in the 1970’s. I’m turning back time but you’re really going to dig it.  Catch you on the flip side.

Be sure to visit my News and Noteworthy post today as well.

All in the Family

All in the Family

All in the Family

Today with everything Politically Correct, it may be hard to believe that the character Archie Bunker actually existed on prime-time television.  He did and he had a lasting affect on pop culture.

All in the Family premiered on CBS television January 12, 1971 and came into our livingrooms until April 8, 1979 (not including the spinoff).  The story in this sitcom revolved around Archie Bunker played by Carroll O’Connor, a working-class World War II veteran living in Queens, New York. Could you sum up this character in one word?  Probably not.  He is a short-tempered, outspoken bigot, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not a U.S.-born, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, and dismissive of anyone not in agreement with his view of the world (Wikipedia). Known for his ignorance and stubbornness.  We also can’t forget his malapropism.  New word for me but not its meaning.

A malapropism (also called a malaprop or Dogberryism) is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound (which is often a paronym), resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance.

The Malaproprism of Archie Bunker

The Malaproprism of Archie Bunker

Archie didn’t like the changing world.  He truly wanted the good old days.  The theme song was a symbol of that ideal.  Who can forget the iconic opening song.  I share this copyrighted video purely for entertainment and educational purposes.

Despite his bigotry, he is portrayed as loveable and decent, as well as a man who is simply struggling to adapt to the changes in the world, rather than someone motivated by hateful racism or prejudice.

If there was ever an opposite character, it was Archie’s wife, Edith played by Jean Stapleton.  She was sweet and understanding.  Edith was somewhat naïve and usually deferred to her husband. Archie often tells her to “stifle” herself and calls her a “dingbat”. Despite their different personalities they love each other deeply.

Archie and Edith

Archie and Edith

The Bunkers have one child, a daughter named Gloria played by Sally Struthers.  She is kind and good natured like her mother, but sometimes you can see traces of her father’s stubbornness.  As the series progresses, she becomes more of an outspoken feminist.  This was likely due to her husband, a college student Michael Stivic played by Rob Reiner.   Referred to as “Meathead” by Archie and “Mike” by everyone else, he personifide the early 1970’s influence from the 1960’s. He is a  hippie, openly an atheist and his morality is influenced and shaped by the counterculture.

Gloria and Mike

Gloria and Mike

Archie and Mike were the clash of generations for sure. They constantly disagreed over religious, political, social, and personal issues. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers’ home to save money, providing even more opportunity for the two men to irritate each other. When Mike finally finishes graduate school and the Stivics move out, it turns out to be to the house next door. The house was offered to them by George Jefferson, the Bunkers’ former neighbor, who knows it will irritate Archie. In addition to calling him “Meathead”, Archie also frequently cites Mike’s Polish ancestry, referring to him as a “dumb Polack.”

Who could forget Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs.  Did you know that this iconic furniture is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Originally purchased by the show’s set designer for a few dollars at a local Goodwill thrift store, the originals were given to the Smithsonian (for an exhibit on American television history) in 1978. It cost producers thousands of dollars to create replicas to replace the originals.

Archie and Edith's chairs, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.

Archie and Edith’s chairs, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.

Did you know that President Richard Nixon can be heard discussing the show (specifically the 1971 episodes “Writing the President” and “Judging Books by Covers”) on one of the infamous Watergate tapes.

Nominated or won awards in every year of broadcast, all in the family was a show that spanned the decade.  In my opinion, if a person was to watch the show today in episodic order, they would get an comedic education in the changing issues of the 1970’s.

A to Z on the Music Charts

American Pie by Don McLean reached number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 on January 15, 1972 and stayed there for four weeks.

A to Z At the Movies

Not the highest grossing movie for 1973 but number 16 of the top films of the decade, American Graffiti was a film that resonated with the movie going public.  Counted as one of the early films for so many big stars, it is one of my favorites.  In my opinion, there would not have been a television show called Happy Days if not for the success of American Graffiti.

American Graffiti 1973

American Graffiti 1973

All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.
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32 responses

  1. Lata Sunil says:

    I am loving this.. considering so little i know about the 1970s in America from this side of the world.

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  2. Great to know so much about that era. Quite a bit of research. @authorparomita from
    The Diary of a Rolling Stone

    Like

  3. Gail says:

    This is amazing! So much research I’m sure went in to thisAs a child of the 70s, I am fascinated. Great job!

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  4. I love All in the Family. I was telling someone recently that Trump’s stupid comments remind me of Archie Bunker. Folks laughed at Archie but want to elect Trump President. Go figure.

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  5. rolandclarke says:

    I can remember all of these, especially singing American Pie on a bus touring the US with college friends. Great times. Thanks for the memories,

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  6. Liam says:

    I was born in 1973, so I’m looking forward to this series. Also recently read Norman Lear’s autobiography which has a fascinating behind-the-scenes details on “All in the Family” and the other great shows he created in the 70s.

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  7. I grew up during the 70s, I love flashbacks! I still watch repeats of All In the Family, and Archie Bunker et al featured in many of our Pastor’s Sunday sermons. 🙂

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  8. John Holton says:

    The older I get, the more of a sympathetic character I think Archie Bunker was. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of my father-in-law, who for all his faults loved his wife and daughter, and when I joined the family me as well. Norman Lear might have tried to turn him into a caricature of everything he didn’t like, but Carroll O’Connor made him human.

    Great job with these. I’m going to enjoy this month.

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  9. Birgit says:

    This is such an iconic show and so well written and acted but what a shame that it would never be on the air today yet the attitude of Archie so brilliantly satired( is that a word?) is now shown for real in Trump and in many Americans.

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  10. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Interesting to know about the 70’s US from the other side of the world, my perspective of it would be confined to flipping through Time and Newsweek (which my father then subscribed to), I was more interested in the adverts than the articles as a child, still have the cuttings somewhere 🙂

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

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  11. All perfect choices to capture the A essence of the 70’s.

    Revisit the Tender Years with me during the #AtoZChallenge at Life & Faith in Caneyhead!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi there!

    I’m stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge. My father used to watch All In The Family faithfully every week.

    I have two blogs in this challenge…my author blog at THE STORY CATCHER (www.donnalmartin.com) and my KICKS Kids Club blog (www.kickskidsclub.blogspot.com.

    If you get a chance, check them out and good luck with the challenge!

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  13. jmh says:

    I remember loving All in the Family back in the day, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy it now. Whenever I’ve seen a formerly funny sitcom from the past, it’s fallen flat with me. So I’ll just leave Archie and friends in my childhood.

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    • I agree. I think today when show are not politically correct, they are flamboyantly so and the comedy comes through. In AITF, Archie was a bigot and whether it was funny it gradually came through. It’s subtle comedy was accepted but would likely not be today. Thanks for reading.

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  14. Nancy says:

    My dad was a big fan of Archie Bunker. I remember him laughing so hard at some episodes that tears were running down his face! He was born in 1923 in Philadelphia to a working class family. He drove a truck for a living and was a Teamster for 40 years. He was a contemporary of Archie’s and I think he knew where he was coming from, warts and all. Thanks for the memories. Love your theme for the A to Z. Can’t wait to see more.

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  15. plaguedparents says:

    Love the theme of your #AtoZChallenge! I remember All in the Family, and have to say I loved it! Today it is quite the study of incorrectness!

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    an e-mail. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might
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    Like