Yesterday, I happened to come across this article in the Dallas Morning News. It detailed how similar 2015 was to 1977. The newspaper had produced a review of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, then just called Star Wars, the year of its release. Without further adieu, here are some similarities between 1977 and 2015:
Oil and the Middle East
Four year before Star Wars came out, the Arab members of OPEC cut off oil supplies to the West for supporting Israel. This was a major cause of stagflation that was still going on in 1977 when Star Wars was released. I am glad that the Arab Oil Embargo did not end up like the Opium Wars between Britain and China. If that had been the case, a lot of damage would have been caused to the Arabian Peninsula. Most likely, the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina would have been targeted. America's moral standing would have been shattered, and the Soviet Union would have won the Cold War, morally. Today, the state of the global economy is still dependent on the price of oil. However, that might soon no longer be the case. As for the Middle East, world peace still revolves around what is going on there. With the Islamic State being a major problem, one can guess that the Middle East will still have a role to play in the world for the next few decades.
1977 was the year Rocky, a film that was released the year before, won the Best Picture Oscar. Rocky is a movie about a small-time Italian-American boxer named Rocky Balboa who gets the chance to beat champion boxer Apollo Creed. He, of course, wins in the end and becomes famous. The film is a classic of American cinema. Believe it or not, Sylvester Stallone, the actor who plays Rocky, created the characters in the film after seeing little-known boxer Chuck Wepner hold his own against Muhammad Ali. This year, a new film in the Rocky franchise has been released. Creed tells the story of Rocky Balboa training Adonis Creed who is the son of Rocky's former rival Apollo Creed. As it turns out, there is a lot of Oscar buzz when it comes to the current film. The Rocky franchise is one the most iconic franchises in film history.
Disco and EDM
In 1977, disco was one of the most popular styles of music. It was essentially, the modern-day equivalent of ragtime. Saturday Night Fever brought disco to the American mainstream that year. It made the Bee Gees household names in the disco era. Today, we have electronic dance music which is essentially the modern-day equivalent of big band music from the 1930s (Note: Hip-hop, which influenced EDM is the modern-day equivalent of jazz.). Just dance to the music. It certainly will be influential for years to come.
Harvey Milk and LGBT Rights
In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was the first openly gay elected official in the United States of America. Sadly that milestone was short-lived as very soon after, he was assassinated along with Mayor Harry Moscone by a disgruntled former employee of the city government. This year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. Of course, a lot of hard work still needs to be done.
Roots and Black Lives Matter
In 1977, Roots premiered on ABC. The mini-series dealt with slavery from the point-of-view of the African-Americans. It forced all Americans to confront the history of slavery in America. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement is campaigning against race-related police brutality. At the same time, America is now struggling with Confederate symbolism in flags, statues, and names on buildings. I doubt that Confederate symbolism will go away anytime soon, even if it is the African-American equivalent of the swastika.
Russia Then and Now
Back in 1977, the United States was worried about Soviet expansion under Leonid Brezhnev. This was during the Cold War when the United States was trying to contain the Soviet Union. Two years later, these fears seemed justified when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Then, ten years after that, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed. Today, the United States is worried about Russian expansion under Vladimir Putin. These fears already seem justified by what is going on in Ukraine and Syria. However, based on what happened in the past, I am pretty sure the Russian Federation will fall apart in the next decade. One person that agrees with this judgement is George Friedman whose book The Next 100 Years predicts the collapse of Russia.
Back in 1977, Willie Nelson was touring his outlaw country sound. At the same time, he had completed the album To Lefty from Willie which was a tribute to country singer Lefty Frizzell who died two years before. This year, Willie Nelson is still active in the world of country music having recently played Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, a few weeks ago. He will most likely continuing playing country music until he dies.
In 1977, four years after Secretariat won the Triple Crown, Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown. He was followed by Affirmed the following year. There was no more Triple Crown until 2015. Only 38 years after Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown, American Pharoah has become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed. I never expected that having seen previous attempts be unsuccessful. Although I'll Have Another and California Chrome came close, I'll Have Another dropped out of the Belmont due to injuries and California Chrome was no match for another horse also due to injuries. I admire American Pharoah.
Apple II Computer
Just this year, Apple, Inc. celebrated its first year in business which was 1977. In 1977, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs had the Apple II computer which became the first successful personal computer. It also contained the first notable computer software, VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet. This launched the company known as Apple Computer. Today, Apple, Inc. as it is now called, has become one of the leading tech companies in the world. Even with the death of Steve Jobs, it shows no sign of going down. Who knows? The Smartwatch might replace the smartphone as the dominant personal computer.
I cannot finish this article without mentioning Star Wars. 1977 was the year that Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released. Back then, it was just called Star Wars. It did not gain its current name until after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. Now, there are six films and associated merchandise as well as spin-offs in other media. Soon, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be released. I would like to see what happens when it comes out. It basically pulls a Jurassic World on Star Wars.
With that I and the Dallas Morning News have shown, it is clear that 1977 and 2015 are very similar. See you at the movies.