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Subject: Are decade change eras always more optimistic culturally?

Written By: bchris02 on 08/27/17 at 1:09 pm

Looking back throughout the decades of the 20th century and the first two of the 21st century, it always seems that decade change years and usually 1-2 years before and after tend to be pretty lighthearted and optimistic culturally.  Even as 1929 turned to 1930, people were optimistic that maybe things wouldn't be that bad going forward, not knowing how bad things were about to get.  It also seems that decade-change eras have some of the most defining music and help set the trends for the next decade.  Pop culture tends to be more progressive (not in a political sense but in the sense of going in new directions and not playing it quite as "safe")  The most recent decade-change era brought us the culture that for the most part we are still in.  So what are your thoughts?  Are decade-change eras more optimistic and progressive?  Do you think that will hold true as the '10s transition into the '20s?

Subject: Re: Are decade change eras always more optimistic culturally?

Written By: Zelek3 on 08/27/17 at 4:18 pm

Yeah I think so. 2009-2012 and 1999-Sept 10 2001 both had an optimistic, almost dreamlike feel, isolated from the eras immediately before and after. Maybe around 2019 we'll get another era like that.

Subject: Re: Are decade change eras always more optimistic culturally?

Written By: DesiredUsernameWasTaken on 08/27/17 at 4:43 pm

You mean "transition eras"?

I can sort of agree, although this definitely wasn't the case with 1939-1940, when World War II was kicking off.

Subject: Re: Are decade change eras always more optimistic culturally?

Written By: Voiceofthe70s on 08/27/17 at 5:38 pm

I agree that the period leading up to the change of a calendar decade is always optimistic and the final year of the decade is often a good, or even great, one culturally and artistically (though not politically). 1969 is the supreme example, and 1979 wasn't bad either, horrid disco notwithstanding. I'm not sure I agree that the years immediately following are so optimistic, however. First of all, there's the immediate letdown for those who think that everything will suddenly change in the blink of an eye at the turning of the calendar year, only to find the previous decade lags on a while longer, often in a somewhat diminished capacity.

Take the early 70s for example. Although one of my favorite eras of all time, in many ways it was a somewhat gloomy, dark era. I firmly maintain that the cultural 60s ended at the end of 1972, but that doesn't mean people couldn't feel it coming throughout 1971 and 1972, which spread a kind of gloom in and of itself. And everyone was worn down from the Vietnam War, which still seemingly had no end in sight. Things went from the still-going-strong psychedelic colors of 1969 to more muted, earth tones of the early 70s. This is clearly reflected in album covers of the time. Carole King's "Tapestry" (1971), CSNY's "Deja Vu" (1970), Neil Young's "Harvest" (1972), all massive hits. Textured earth tones. In the music too.

I would say 1980, which was still the cultural 70s, had a sort of optimistic feel to it, but the cultural 70s ended with a bang at the end of 1980 with the murder of John Lennon and the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Now, whether you felt optimistic in 1981 (the beginning of the cultural 80s) depends on your politics. Things went from liberal to conservative in the absolute blink of an eye. Both Lennon's death and Reagan's rise were symbolic of this. And music went from dead-serious (again, disco notwithstanding) of the 70s to taking on a decidedly cartoonish tone in the early 80s.

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