Ed Driscoll

Nostalgia Schlock

In 1973, Daniel Patrick Moynihan looked back on the decade which had recently concluded and said, “Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade”. And part of that sea change in their beliefs was replacing a JFK-era New Frontier optimism towards future progress with an enormous fear of modernity that in many respects continues to this day, seeking to replace life-enhancing technology with a Rousseauvian return to nature.

Perhaps wishing to live out Moynihan’s observation, in 1972, Orson Welles narrated and appeared on camera in the McGraw-Hill(!) production of a short film presenting a few of the doomsday-ish concepts from Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. (Toffler’s 1980 sequel, The Third Wave was a much more optimistic look at the near future, and blessedly free of the lingering effects of psychedelia which tainted his 1970 book.)

In a way, this is the culmination, the apex of 1970s Merdework, to borrow a Lileksian word. Thrill! To dissonant first generation Moog synthesizers! Gasp! At Orson Welles and his quick paycheck-seeking stentorian sell-no-documentary before-its-time tones–and his omnipresent 12-inch Double Corona Monte Cristo Cuban phallic symbol! Shudder! As Welles fears the technological ramifications of giant mainframe computers with less computing power than your Motorola cell phone!

These first ten minutes are presented as part of an ongoing public service to remind our readers how frightening the aesthetics of the 1970s truly were; more adventurous souls may wish to view the remainder of the documentary, available here.