THE GREAT FUNK by Thomas Hine


Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies
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Big bell bottoms, big disco beats and big lines at the gas station: We love the ’70s! And so does pop-culture philosopher Hine (I Want That: How We All Became Shoppers, 2002, etc.).

The author turns the spotlight onto the chaotically cool and misguided decade of the 1970s. The cool stuff—i.e., the music (Bowie, Bootsy, and yes, disco), the television (All in the Family, Saturday Night Live) and the films (Star Wars, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)—helped usher in the modern media era, while the gaudy architecture, the vertigo-inducing fashions and the wobbly politics set American culture back a few years. Today, the ’70s are the epitome of retro, and to those of a certain age, retro is the epitome of hip. Hine displays a simultaneously sincere and ironic affection for the era, and treats the decade’s goofiest icons (e.g., the pet rock, the Ford Pinto, Bobby Riggs v. Billie Jean King) with warmth, humor and reverence. Because the ’70s was a visual decade, both artistically and culturally, it’s the cannily selected photos that will likely cause the casual book browser to stand up and take notice—the 200 movie posters, magazine covers and shots of protesters, streakers and disco-ers help justify the steep cover price. Some may quibble that Hine only scratches the surface of the era, but an exhaustive cultural study of the period could occupy nearly 1,000 pages. Sure, the ’70s was an excessive decade, but a full-blown history would be a bit too excessive. Hine’s photo- and fun-filled bathroom/coffee-table book is just right.

To paraphrase George Clinton, ya gotta have The Great Funk.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-14839-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2007


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