I’m still not quite sure which decade I wish I got to experience more: the 1970s or the 1980s. I was born in the late ’80s, but I can only remember bits of 1989 (I didn’t know that was the year then, but looking back, my visual recollections include Madonna‘s “Like A Prayer” and my mother literally has me a home video of me watching it in the living room). I completely missed out on the decade of “Last Dance” and The Godfather. To compare the two, it is a tight race. The ’70s had some of the best television shows, films and some of the greatest R&B and rock albums were released. I can definitely imagine myself scheduling my life around The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son airings, and being compulsive about my vinyl record shopping. I might have even did some DJing! Carrying crates and shit to gigs. And while not reel-related, I also would’ve definitely made trips to New York and make ill-fated attempts to get into Studio 54 or any of the hot clubs in Manhattan. New York was scary as hell, however. From the Bronx to Brooklyn, it was a city-wide war zone (and seedy!) but so much greatness was occurring, particularly in music with the births of hip-hop and punk.
But the 1980s, pop culture just exploded with MTV and cable networks really showing up, such as HBO. I love to hear the stories of my brother and sister of when they were kids and teens during this time. They were there for the era of Thriller and E.T. and Friday Night Videos, a NBC weekly show that for those that didn’t have cable could still watch the latest videos from Whitney Houston, David Bowie and Pat Benatar. Damn, I wish I was there for that! And I know I would’ve been an avid John Hughes films supporter.
When I began to watch TV into the last decade of the 20th century (so dramatic), while Nickelodeon, WB cartoons, and Cartoon Network were dear to me, I also watched lots of shows from the aforementioned ’70s and ’80s. I grew up watching The Brady Bunch (one of my favorite episodes was when Marcia threw her first slumber party) which was funny in that the franchise had a revival in the ’90s and two feature film comedies featuring the beloved 70s characters in the alternative and hip-hop times of 1995 and 1996. theaters. My feminist training began with reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. For some reason, I could watch back to back episdoes of TAXI. I adored The Facts of Life from the ’80s and TV time capsule watching went as far back into 1950s, as Lucille Ball became an early icon of mine. Nick At Nite, the parents version of Nickelodeon, kept 90s kids like me on point in that while the 1990s contained enough pop culture shenanigans and original moments that I treasure, the past was just as relevant. We’re a well-rounded bunch and the last of a breed that remembers when MTV still played videos and BET had their equivalent of Yo! MTV Raps with Rap City. And I can say how much I LOVED Grease?
I became truly acquainted with the 1970s, aside from The Brady Bunch, via the 1994 film Crooklyn by Spike Lee. The first Spike Lee Joint I saw, also in theaters, it took place in Brooklyn 1973. The worlds of the 90s viewing with 70s iconography, slang, and fashion collided and I had a blast in my cushioned seat. Especially since the protagonist was a young Black girl named Troy, played by Zelda Harris. I felt like she was me if I was around in 1973. And her and her brothers watching Soul Train and that Afro Sheen commercial stuck with me.
With the recent passing of Maurice White, co-founder and member of the legendary group Earth, Wind and Fire, I’ve been in a ’70s kick again lately. To go with it, this year’s celebrations for Black History Month seem especially attuned to the Black Pride and Black glamor of the decade. The images are so inspiring! I love the ones with Black women and women of color rocking Afros! They sure were beautiful. And of course, the ferocity and strength of The Black Panthers and the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress and the first woman period to run for the Democratic ticket in 1972 for the Presidential election. #RealGirlPower
Let’s go back and below watch videos ranging from animation, beauty, and entertainment, as every clip captures the spirit of the Black Power movement and just a portion of the decade’s greatest hits. #FlashbackFriday
Afro Sheen Commercial
“Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Good Times episode “The Rent Party”
Foxy Brown, clip starring, Pam Grier
Josie and The Pussycats
Welcome Back Kotter theme song