Monday, February 27, 2012

1977: The Year Star Wars Was Released

1977: The Year Star Wars Was Released

After your teen watched Star Wars, did he shrug and say, “What’s the big deal? The prequel is way better.”?

Try the Black Hole antidote. This entirely forgettable Disney film was released in 1979, a year and a half after Star Wars changed everything about sci-fi films. (Okay, I’ll add a shout-out to Close Encounters, which also came out in 1977.) BH was melodramatic, sterile and cheesy in the tradition of sci-fi flicks. Until SW came along.

1.      VHS tapes were introduced in the US. The VCR player sold for $1280, over $4500 in today’s money.
2.      Most homes had ABC, NBC, CBS, and Public Broadcasting. That’s it. If lucky, maybe a local channel or two. If luckier, the new satellite-available Ted Turner (see#3) or fledgling HBO channels.
3.      This was the second year of the first nationwide basic cable network. What did it carry? “Old movies, situation comedy reruns, cartoons, and sports.”
4.      The first personal all-in-one computer (the Commodore PET) was introduced, as was the Apple II. (The Macintosh wouldn’t arrive until 1984.)
5.      Jimmy Carter became president.
6.      The Seattle Mariners played ball for the first time.
7.      Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Silver Jubilee. (Her Golden was in 2002. Her Diamond in 2012.)
8.      Anita Bryant and her crew of bigots led a successful repeal of a Miami-Dade County gay rights ordinance.
9.      200,000 protesters in San Francisco marched against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay slurs and the hate-inspired murder of a gay man.
10.   The Son of Sam was murdering/getting arrested in NY, and the 25-hour New York City blackout wreaked havoc – tense tense times. (Not much changes when it comes to that.)
11.   The first oil of the new Trans-Alaska pipeline reached Valdez, Alaska.
12.   Hell, the Walkman cassette player didn’t come out until 1979.
13.   Elvis died.
14.   The first video piracy resolutions were announced – that’s those warnings you ignore on your dvd’s today.
15.   Small Pox was eliminated. The last case was found in Somalia.
16.   Harvey Milk was elected, the first openly gay official of a major city. (Okay, I've mentioned gay rights events 3 times -- '77 was a big year for gay rights. Crazy-late to the civil rights party, huh?)
17.   The Internet, btw, was still in its sperm-meets-egg infancy. There wasn’t even a fetus with fingernails there.
18.   Women were first allowed into the regular Navy. (Before that, they were in a separate status as WAVES, ie Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. Whatever.)
19.   Orlando Bloom, Shakira, Chris Martin, Kanye West, Tom Brady, Ludacris, and that douche ‘my penis is a Nazi’ John Mayer were born. Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson were the young studs of the day.
20.   It was the year of Smokey and the Bandit, Oh God!, Annie Hall and the fabu hockey strip-tease moment in Slap Shot. Haven’t seen it? DO. Notice the absence of special-effects mind-blowers in that list?

There it is. A teen in 1977 got 3 channels, no computer, no internet, no cell phone, no smart anything, probably no vcr. And those channels? They went off the air late at night. Maybe he had a boom box that weighed 10 pounds. If so, he was the cool kid. That kid saw his friends at school and in the neighborhood and he maybe had a pen pal (corresponding via real pens and snail mail). And he’d better not tie up the phone with those friends (no call waiting and no cordless phones) or he’d get his ass handed to him.  … Is it any wonder Star Wars blew our socks off?

So, okay parents, we get that things are way better now. Would you want to go back to 1977? (Be honest.) Still, that’s no reason to let your teen dis on the not great, but great for its time, Star Wars.

Oh and don’t try to tell me it’s a great film. You’ve seen the bar scene, same as we all have.