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B2 1970s De Zwaan

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MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?

The Hippie Decade


Joshua Cockrum, Mirijam Garske, Hanna Bogrow, Daniel Chen, Arun Rao





Business & the Economy 

The economy during the 1970s began to go into the worst recession in decades.  Multiple international events caused increasing inflation along with sluggish economic growth.  Many big industrial companies, including the Automotive Industry’s “Big Three”, faced hard economic times due to the oil crisis.  And despite the efforts of the government to effectively turn around the spiral downwards, all attempts were in vain and did not improve the economy.  But on the contrary these radical downturns opened the door for a new type of economy, one dominated not by industry, but by service.


The Industry in the 1970s struggled due to the oil crisis which occurred between 1973- 1974 and in 1979.  Oil production in the United States was at its limit, and Americans were becoming more reliant on foreign oil imported from the Middle East. 


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 Because the United States came to the aid of Israel during The Arab- Israeli War, 5 Persian Gulf states banned exports of oil to the United States; the oil ban caused oil prices (per barrel) to jump from about 5 dollars to 17 dollars.



The “Big Three” along with the U.S. Steel industry were struggling during the 1970s due to the threat of foreign steel companies.  Japan and Europe became legitimate threats to the American Industry, and this threat ushered in the Service economy we have today.  Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Wal- Mart would begin to dominate the market. 







     In the 1970’s there were two trends that one would not think so, that affected the education of children all over the nation. Social movements against war or harming the environment occurred all over schools and campuses. This often created some rioting of problems among the children as well as teachers. Some schools were still very segregated and these rioting caused even more segregation. The Kent State massacre was a horrible event where four students were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen that were trying to stem anti-war demonstrations.

     School integration, particularly in Northeastern cities led to violence among the students, teachers and parents at schools. It disrupted a lot of the educational process for some children and gave them a certain view on life that was not necessarily their own. Also, in 1975, Congress guaranteed equal educational access to the handicapped with the Education of All Handicapped Childeren Act of 1975.

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     The 1970’s fashion was known for being wild and having made a statement. One of the main reasons that fashion was growing and becoming more important to the typical American was because of the growing polyester industry. More clothes were made from this cheap and easy material, so everyone was able to buy the clothes that were “in” at the time. It was very popular to dress with bright colors, big clothes and big hair too.  Important designers as this time were Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren that are still known today.

     Women wore “hot pants” which were very shorts short, which were a big change for women who in the past were not encouraged to show their legs. Bell bottoms jeans, platform shoes and gypsy dresses were common among women. Miniskirts and tank tops were also popular among women, as well as flare jeans and tie dye colors. Men also wore flare jeans and tie dye shirts. Hair for both men and women was as the higher the better, giving more volume and curls to get a big hair look. Leisure shirts, derby hats, tweed jackets and baggy pants for men also became very common. The movie “Annie Hill” was one of the great inspirations for the seventies’ fashion. The 70’s were filled with bright colors and mixing colors in outfits too, not just sticking to one color, which was a new idea among many people.

            Another new fad that everybody had was were a mood ring, this cool new color changing ring was used to tell the wearer’s emotional state, but more was used to express oneself and make a statement of being different. Teenagers and young adults were the starters of all these fashion ideas, but they were spread among every age and lasted for the whole decade. Smiley faces, string art, pet rocks and sea monkey were also fads in the 70’s.


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Film and theater


     Despite financial and artistic depression during the 1970’s, the 1970’s was a creative highpoint for Hollywood. Restrictions on violence, language, and adult content had been loosened up from its establishment due to the Vietnam War. The “hippie movement” , civil rights movement, and aspects of life like: free love, rock and roll, and drug use had an impact on the film industry. During this time Hollywood had become influenced by the European “New Wave” of motion picture films. Because of this new movement, Hollywood started to take more risks and became more open for new and upcoming director and actors. Motion pictures began to flourish towards the end of the Vietnam War; many of the 1970 movie themes reflected the people’s lack of faith in public institutions (the government) and the dark side of the “American Dream”. The movies had common plots that revolved around: the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, the Munich Olympic Shoot-Out, and other such topics that exemplified the questioning nature of the truth during those times. Besides the “stick-to-the-man” types of movies, the 1970’s created many classic and action movies that were directed towards the youth. With the addition of special affects and new twists like more complicated stories and violence, made movies of the 1970's increasingly popular. Popular blockbuster movies include the classic action movie Star Wars by George Lucas in 1977 and the classic horror film, Jaws by Steven Spielberg in 1975. Movies from the 1970's continue to be favorites by many today for their truth finding nature as well as for the unsurpassed action films.


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Food &  Drink 

     During the 1970’s a lot of candies and junk food was first being made. For example: sodas, Laffy Taffy, popcorn with popcorn makers, Zotz, Clark Bars and more were made. The typical American day in food was eating with family, or packed in a metal lunch box to take to school or work. Breakfast usually consisted of cereal and milk for most people since it was cheaper and affordable for most families. Lunch was a usually a soup, since that was a new thing (also being able to take it with you and keep it warm was new). Crock pots were a new fad used for cooking among many families. Fondue was a new thing that was also used at almost every party. Hamburger Helper was a new company that was the start of easy dinners and meals the family can make easily. Many more of these types of foods came into existence in the 1970’s.

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Print Culture



     The literature of the 1970’s was predominately dominated by racism.  Also, many of the aspects of the literature in the 1960 prevailed in the 70’s. Topics of 1970 literature included political satire, romance, criminal-fiction, and horror.  Literature of the 70’s was freer than before because recent censorship laws implemented during the Vietnam era were lifted. Topics that were aimed at the government and adult content were now availed and became popular throughout the 70’s. Famous authors of the 70’s include Stephen King, John Updike, and J R. R. Tolkien. The beginning of the 1970’s also returned back to old fashion story telling. With the flourishing movie industry many of the books created during this time were created into films. Aside from this, much of the literature involved the people’s discontent with the government, racism, and the fall of President Nixon in American society. These two elements of 1970’s literature produced well-known books like All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The 1970’s also led to the rise of the magazine, popular magazines published articles on the life of celebrities and related gossip. These magazines also helped the print industry as a whole because at the time hard-cover books were an expensive product, paper-back books became the popular and cheaper alternative, magazines were also relatively cheap and became popular because of this.  Some popular magazines include “Life Magazine” which was published in 1972 and “People Magazine” which debuted in 1974 and on the cover of the first magazine was Mia Farrow. Unfortunately, critics of the 1970’s literature believed that the novel died in the 1970’s and was replaced by meaningless books about money, sex, and drugs.


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Sports &  Games

The largest factor that influenced professional sports during the 1970s was money.  In America’s favorite pass times, football and baseball, there was a growing following on the television, and watching games from the comfort of home.  This increased industry led to the extension of the seasons, and the formation of very lucrative television contracts.  Due to the higher income of sports clubs, players started to form unions and demand higher pay.  During this time period players were making up to $1 million dollars per year. 


The dominating clubs in baseball during the decade were the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds.   Later in the decade (1975) Frank Robinson would become the first black manager under the Cleveland Indians. Professional Football was dominated by the Pittsburg Steelers, they won four Super bowls in the course of the decade.


Other than in the realm of professional physical sports, the video game brought entertainment usually only found in pool halls into the living rooms of many Americans.  Americans purchased the new Atari Game system and tested their skills with the first video game – “Pong”.  This game consisted of small paddles on each side of the screen that would bounce a small ball in between.  Test your Pong skills on the game below!





      Throughout the 1960s, there was a great variety of music played depicting dance styles and culture of that time. Both ends of the rock & roll spectrum grew drastically creating both harder then softer rock. Harder rock had grown through the 60s, and 70s artists such as KISS, Led Zeplin, Black Sabbath, and Alice Cooper were not only known for their intense music, but also their extreme performances and embracing of the ‘rock star’ lifestyle. Artists also became frustrated with the standard tunes and initiated their own grooves. New forms included funk, disco, punk, and new wave music, beginning a new generation of songs (981). Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, the combination of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, and funk was associated with “Black Pride” music.

            These styles were adored by some, however the styles continued to clash. Hard-core rock & roll listeners despised disco, and even held protests against it in major cities. The late 70s lead to a softening of rock, with bands such as the Carpenters, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Barry Manilow, and ABBA (982). Black and white musical groups were joining together to create the disco dance music of the decade. It not only was a catchy trend, but managed to capture both music and culture of the 1970s.


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Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta was a hit movie in the 1970s, also debuting great dancing to the disco music.




"The Way We Lived"

     During the 1970’s people lived a very different lifestyle from the 1960’s. Less people were concerned with political and social changes and issues that were going on, and concentrated more on them selves and what they wanted. At this time the divorce rate increased drastically. And more people were on the quest to a happy live only concerning them and their beliefs. This was a very new way of thinking that startled many older generations but spread like wildfire. Feminism was a new idea that can along with this period. Concern for the planet and health also developed during this time for the hippy people and therefore the first Earth day was held in 1970. Many laws concerning the environment where passed by the government. The 1970s will also be remembered as the decade of fads. In addition to jogging and aerobics, popular fads of the 1970s included tanning, streaking (running naked in public places, which was most popular on college campuses), and buying pet rocks and mood rings. Many religious cults and groups were developed at this time as well.

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Government & Politics

     The 1970’s were marred by scandal, controversy, and disappointment. The decade began on a depressing note almost immediately, as rejection of the Vietnam War continued. The strife within the U.S. escalated violently during the Seventies with the Kent State University protests against the war on 4 May 1970, which would end with the bloody deaths of four students (1970s : Events and People). A year later, nearly 200 000 people would further protest against the war(1970s : Events and People). Even after U.S. involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973 with the first American military loss in history, further grieves would trouble the United States – the vice president Spiro Agnew resigned from office in the midst of charges of corruption and scandal; soon after, the president [Richard Nixon] too would resign from office because of the Watergate scandal (1970s : Events and People). And during the already troubling times, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries refused to ship oil to the United States and other Western countries, inciting the worst recession since the Great Depression hit during the 1970’s as oil prices doubled and tripled; all the optimism experienced after WWII would be suddenly replaced by cynicism and bitterness (1970s: Events and People).




 The American people became exhausted, tired with not only large governments but all governments. After the Watergate scandal, people began to ignore politics; the 1978 election marked the lowest voter turnout in 38 years. The scandal revealed the depth of corruption and illegality of those who held power, who began to consider themselves above the law. Never before had America felt so vulnerable, from the political weaknesses on the inside to the military failures abroad in Vietnam and Iran [with the capture of American diplomats at the end of the decade]. Despite improvements made during the 1970’s, such as the increased involvement of minority groups [such as African Americans] in political life, the politics in during the 1970’s were overshadowed by humiliation and characterized by the discontent caused by the shameful secrets of political life uncovered during the Seventies.



"What kind of nation we will be? What kind of world we will live in? Whether we shape the future in the image of our hopes is ours to determine by our actions and our choices" - Nixon


     The 1970's began with dilemmas and crises handed over from the 1960's - inflation, crime, and most prominently, Vietnam. And yet, despite rough beginnings, Nixon began his first term in office, full of hope for a new start, promising to end the war in Vietnam and to unify of America. Initially, Nixon would attempt to completely remove American troops from Vietnam by replacing them with Vietnamese soldiers, also known as "Vietnamization". However, Nixon secretly approved surreptitious bombing campaigns on North Vietnam, and military raids in Cambodia to disrupt North Vietnamese sanctuaries. As the American public became suspicious, a string of political successes [for Nixon], which ranged from economic recovery to improvements between U.S. and China/Soviet Union relations, calmed the masses, ensuring a second presidential term


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     Nixon began his second term strongly, winning with over 60% of the popular ballot. This feeling would end briefly, as the Watergate Scandal [a variety of illegal actions carried out by the Nixon administration] would overshadow any of Nixon's positive actions in that past. By 1974, Nixon resigned as president, facing threats of impeachment and conviction of corruption; ironically, Nixon would achieve the most ambitious goals - he would eventually end the war by ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam and he did unite America, albeit against himself.


      Following Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford [who replaced the vice president Spiro Agnew amidst rumors of corruption] replaced Nixon as the president. In attempts to restore trust in the government, Ford was quick to pardon Nixon's actions so that rumors of illegal use of presidential powers and aftermaths of Watergate would end, but this rapid pardon would backfire and undermine the publics' trust in government even more (Pennington 268). Ultimately, Ford's incompatibility with Congress and his pardon on behalf of Nixon would lead to his defeat in the following election to Jimmy Carter. But despite another new change, Carter's inexperience [Carter was an outsider to politics in Washington] would hinder his ability to accomplish anything concrete and would do nothing to regain America's trust in government (Pennington 268).


Law &  Justice


     Ironically, despite the various illegal activities carried out during what is now known as the Watergate Scandal, Nixon made crime an essential part of his political campaign during the late 1960's, in response to growing public concern regarding crime (Crime and Public Opinion 1). Despite this so called attention towards ending crime, "rates for many crimes did increase ... the rate of violent crimes increased from 364 per 100,000 population in 1970 to 581 in 1980, an increase of 60 percent from 1970 to 1980", perhaps stimulated by the fact even the president abused the law (Crime and Public Opinion 1). Furthermore, America's changed its attitude towards drugs [mainly marijuana], becoming more lax regarding its usage; "even first ladies Betty Ford and Rosalyn Carter admitted that their children probably tried marijuana" (Crime and Public Opinion 1). Among the various other appalling actions and amidst the poor models of leadership [most notably, Nixon and Spiro Agnew], the public seemed to almost stop caring or at the very least, care less. 




   As midcentury brought much cultural and political change for all religions members, Christianity dominated religious populations throughout the 70s. Late 60s through mid 70s Mainland Churches had to struggle to maintain memberships. As congregants were declining, people lost track of the relevance of the standard, organized religions. They therefore tended to join skewed religious groups, often conceived as more committed organizations. This hurt the Christian popularity, and devoted followers fought to convert others. Much of the population however felt these missionaries had lost their spark. It still dominated United States religious groups, though dropped in size.


            This drop in popularity was not out of nowhere. Religious leaders were commonly speaking of involvement of the United States in Vietnam at war, and disagreements sparked a separation of opinions. In addition, these religious leaders were also the most effective opponents of current president, Richard Nixon in the ongoing Watergate Scandal. Because of these two issues, along with the liberal ideas of the 70s, it is no vast surprise that religion lost its previous value. Even though people were differed in opinion here, racial discrimination also brought change to the religious world. On June 16 1973, Reverend Dr. Lawrence W. Bottoms was elected the first black moderator of Presbyterian Church. African Americans made up about 1% of the 900,000 members, most often located in the South.


Positive Political Cartoon


     Dennis the Menace was a popular cartoon, one thing that was sure to grab kids attention. The cartoon includes a pun on the word ‘race’, using the word in regards to a running race in a time where skin race was a controversial issue. It is positive in showing the changes made through the decade towards integration change. The fact that this is included in a children’s cartoon also portrays the future generation for change, as these kids learn and often imitate these programs.


Negative Political Cartoon


     This political cartoon denotes the negative feelings that the people in the 70s felt towards the Watergate Scandal. It explains the sketchiness that the whole situation denoted, and the public view received through all the negative news.


MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?





Works Cited


"1970s: Events and People." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 997. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 June 2010.<http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade70.html>


"1970s: Fashion." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 955. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 June 2010.


"1970s: Film and Theater." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 961-962. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 June 2010.

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"Disco Dancers". Online Image.Martin Westlake.10/6/10.  http://www.martinwestlake.eu/2009/03/

Dirks, Tim. "Film History of the 1970s." Greatest Films - The Best Movies in Cinematic History. American Movie Classics Company LLC. Web. 13 June 2010. <http://www.filmsite.org/70sintro.html>.

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