When Disco was KingBy Efren Gutierrez Jr.
Let’s go back to a time when bellbottoms with big, thick belt buckles were all the rage, when disco was always on the radio, and when illegal drugs were not considered “bad.” If you don’t know what period I’m talking about, it’s the ’70s. As part of the millennium nostalgia, NBC has decided to make a new made-for-TV movie, The ’70s, airing this Sunday and Monday. If you are a fan of ’70s nostalgia, you will probably be disappointed. If you aren’t, then you might want to find something more productive to do on your Sunday and Monday nights.
The ’70s follows four friends through the decade, starting on the eve of the Kent State shootings in May, 1970. The main character, Byron Shaw (Brad Rowe), his girlfriend, Eileen (Vinessa Shaw), his younger sister, Christie (Amy Smart), and his high school friend, Dexter (Guy Torry) are all students at Kent State. After the shootings, they separate to pursue their own destinies. Dexter moves to Watts to live with his aunt, where he renovates an old theater and falls in love with Yolanda (Leslie Silva), a political activist. Byron goes on to law school, but quits in order to work for the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon. Eileen becomes active in the feminist movement. Christie pursues a modeling career. The movie follows the four throughout the decade, chronicling the impact various events and trends have on their lives.
While the movie does give a good description of what the major themes of the ’70s were, it exaggerates the characters in a manner that is not reflective of real life. The mixture of so many events of the decade makes The 70’s fall short of anything worthy of seeing. The scenes shift so fast that you get lost in the ’70s references, and the story becomes the background.
The story seems to be contrived by writers whose sole intent was to include as many events and trends from the decade as they could think of. The story flows chronologically, but just doesn’t have any content whatsoever. However, I must admit, the soundtrack to the movie is very good, with a large selection of musical styles -- not just disco.
NBC must also think that America needs to think more about its past. Exactly this time last year, it aired The ’60s. By far, The ’60s was much better than The ’70s, due to its originality. The ’60s also better incorporated the historical events in the plot of the story.
It’s possible there is a new trend going on. Will we be seeing The ’80s next year? If this trend continues, eventually we’ll be seeing the The ’00s -- The Future Decade. I doubt it would get that far; after the airing of The ’70s, I can only hope that NBC will have learned its lesson.