Back to the 70s?

By Razib Khan | August 28, 2012 12:35 am

Peter Turchin has basically implied that it’s 1970 again, and we’re in for a new age of disturbance. I’m rather skeptical…but, today a co-worker pointed out that I have “70s hair.” My sideburns, yes, but that’s just Gen-X irony or whatever. But she argued that there was a notable pre-1980 shagginess to my hair. Off to the barbershop! And yet…look at the mops that One Direction is sporting. When I last spoke about this group I wasn’t even aware that the group is already big in the United States! Am I old enough now that the styles of my pre-conscious age are now creeping back into fashion? Though I would still bet against polyester and plaid, perhaps David Frum’s unread book about the 1970s will start selling a few copies soon.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Uncategorized
  • Darkseid

    Hipsters are definitely bringing *something* back in to fashion. I’m not sure what it is but…

  • toto

    Actually the current age does look like a mirror image of the 70s, with political extremes dominating the media. The difference being that the extremists of the 70s were mostly on the far left, while the current extremists are mostly on the far right.

    Obvious cause: the baby-boom. The 70s had an excess of young people, who tend to lean left, while the early 21st century has an excess of old people, who tend to lean right. When you look at the far tails (where the loonies are), the effect will be magnified.

  • Chris_T_T

    Of course the minute someone identifies a historical cycle is also when the cycle stops… 😉

    This has been proposed before under a number of different frameworks. It’s an interesting idea, but with only three data points (and one spike, the Civil War, appears ten years too early) it’s hard to really draw definitive conclusions.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    I was always under the impression that popular culture has roughly 20-year cycles. Certainly the 1990s seemed to be the 1970s replay. Grunge was essentially 70s rock mixed with punk music. Actual punk music went mainstream again. And near the end of the decade, disco made a comeback.

    And although it happened haltingly, the 80s did become the main nostalgia wave sometime in the last decade. Certainly you heard a lot more 1980s influence in popular music – bands like the Killers aping the Cure, Idlewild aping REM, or The Arcade Fire trying their hardest to blend U2 and Talking Heads.

    This suggests the next wave of nostalgia will be for 1990s music. I’d hope for a band which looked back to the early 90s Wax Trax stuff, although that’s probably a bit too obscure.

  • Sandgroper

    I’ll start believing it when Zeeb starts wearing bell-bottomed pants and Elton John platform shoes.

  • ac

    Come on guys, it’s not the 70s it’s the 90s. If you want to get really obscure, there’s all sorts of bands bringing back 90s-style music (look at Yuck!). And as someone who peruses Gorilla vs Bear too much, there’s certainly a large group of people making 90s-style music videos (including – my favorite – a bunch of music videos with early 90s style computer graphics! love it).

  • ackbark

    For some reason I’ve had the theme to Welcome Back, Kotter running through my head for over a week now and it won’t stop.

    Does it mean something, or is it a kind of stroke?

    Just looked at Gorilla vs Bear and what’s 70s-looking is Instagram.

  • Ed

    @4 Karl

    I’ve heard the same thing actually. I remember wearing puka shells in the 90s and my friend’s mom commenting that they were “in” during the 70s as well. To be frank though, I’d say that present styles seem to match the mid to late eighties. If you look at artists like Kanye West, Lady Gaga (Madonna 2) etc. The whole “swag” movement seems like a nod to eighties fashion. I doubt many here would listen to metal, but many bands coming out now seem to have nearly identical styles to the ones I listened to as a kid.

  • TGGP

    The article indicated that Turchin thinks that 1970 will recur in roughly 2020, so I guess now is 1962?

    This is the sort of thing agnostic focuses on.

  • Razib Khan

    we don’t call him assman no more?

  • Karl Zimmerman

    8 –

    Yeah, it does seem like things are moving more on a 25-year cycle than a 20-year one. I’m fairly certain that 80s retro wasn’t a huge thing at all until around 2005 or so. There were some nods in underground music earlier in the decade, but it didn’t break into the mainstream.

    The 90s are going to be a hard thing to bring back honestly. The record companies never really wanted it, because it pretty much killed white pop music in the U.S. from around 1992 to 1997. Thus it will be really, really hard to work the influences of that period into modern radio-friendly music.

    On the other hand, I do have to say that the style of dress of the “emo” kids these days (I feel bad for the fans of old, real emo) is amazingly close to how my friends who listened to Marilyn Manson dressed when they were like 15. Barring the clothing actually fitting now of course.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar