By Dee Dee Vega

The 1970s seem to be enjoying quite a Renaissance. A superficial survey of pop culture holds That 70s Show, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and even an uber-mod re-imagining of Starsky and Hutch. Pick up a copy of an underground, trend-setting publication like Mass Appeal and even the Caucasian Afro is alive and well in its pages. This polyester-clad romance with the pre-VCR Nixon era, despite its political difficulties, is enjoying a remembrance something like that girl that dumped you in college. She's fondly remembered on a cold night in your fifteenth year of marriage. It seems that liberal America is trying its hardest to capture "That 70s Lightning" in a bottle. An trust me, there are many things during the 1970s, especially in regard to the advancement of women and minorities we should be remembering like Shirley Chisholm's bid for the Presidency in 1972 and Norma McCorvey a.k.a. Jane Roe's court battle to secure the right of choice for women. Lightning indeed had struck the social scene of the 70s to a largely positive end.

With all this resurgence of 70s chic, I wonder why it's the feathered hair and bad mustaches American culture is clutching to so nostalgically and not the social movements that were benefiting so many long-oppressed groups. I wonder. The American cultural panorama does have That 70s Show. It also boasts Desperate Housewives. As a professional woman, I honestly believed that a "desperate housewife" was an extinct personality, not a prime-time fixation in a post-feminist era. Somehow a show written by a gay man about sex-crazed women starring plastic and silicone stuffed, malnourished actresses fucking underage or under-intelligent men is a favorite when at the same time we are having serious discussions about whether Sponge Bob is gay.

Pop culture entertainment is important to a discussion of how to calibrate the social advancement of American culture because, in a certain sense, it is the true barometer of with what we are comfortable. We know that Americans will nearly always choose to spend their time on pure entertainment akin to bearbaiting in Shakespeare's time than on emotionally or intellectually compelling stories akin to the Greeks. You need look no further than the box office receipts of Hollywood action flicks versus character-driven independent films that actually have more dialogue than explosions to know that. So fine-we enjoy being entertained. But what is it that we are entertained by? The Simpsons recently "outed" Marge's sister Patty as a lesbian and in an effort to bolster the tourism receipts of Springfield (read Everytown, America) the famously blundering Homer presides over gay weddings. This controversial episode does have its finger on the pulse of America, at least reflecting that the debate over gay marriage is one of the most contentious ones today. But a far more prevalent trend is the culture of denial. There was never a time in American history when the majority of popular entertainment dealt with social issues, however, unless you are talking the far Left laugh fests like The Daily Show or Real Time with Bill Maher, almost no entertainment deals with social issues.

Feminism is a particularly interesting one of the oft-neglected "isms" to consider in regard to the 70s renaissance. I happened to see Jose Canseco appear in an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 minutes to promote his book Juiced. The interview almost completely discussed Canseco's statements that he used and administered steroids to professional baseball players. The interview came to completion and I assumed that the book dealt with the illegal dealings of the major leaguers. I later learned that a significant portion of Canseco's book is his musings on the lascivious behavior of his cohorts on the road. This is where Jose broadened my vocabulary to include a term I had not yet been exposed to, a best-kept male secret, "Road Beef." Road beef is what you call an ugly woman who a member of the team would be chided by his teammates into having sex with in order to break a losing streak. That a handsome, overpaid, cocksure athlete would descend from his personal mount Olympus to choose a fat or unattractive women in order to "take one for the team" astounded me. The utter selflessness of men! Canseco's bragging text had essentially reduced the musings on gender of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus to an Arby's menu. Women, at least ugly women, are beef, road beef, to be exact. I hope all the women who have fallen victim to Canseco and his posse's revolting antics have only one thing to say, "Eat Me."

That most alarming aspect of all of this discussion is the willingness on the part of a lot of stupid, right wing, and stupid or right-wing white men to make these kinds of statements publicly. Of course, racism still widely exists in America. However, most college students who harbor racist feelings have the good sense not to state them; for they know that that kind of talk just would not be acceptable. Yet, Laurence Summers, the president of Harvard University, doesn't have the sense to know that even if he misguidedly feels that women do not have men's intrinsic aptitude in math or science, he should be smart enough to never, ever say such a thing because if it isn't said, sooner or later, our children's children may not ever think it.

The 1970s was an era that ushered in social progress which women should be enjoying the benefits of today. To survey the popular culture canon, it seems that the only thing that is being enjoyed from the 1970s is Britney Spears sporting low-riding pants. Its time to let "That 70s Lightning" out of the bottle to bring back all the hard work feminists have done before its too late because, as they say, lightning never strikes the same spot twice.