A lot can happen in twenty-nine years. When I think back to February, 1979, not much comes to mind, mainly because I was just learning how to eat and move. But, if it was anything like 2008, I can imagine that I missed a lot. The little I know about the world that I was born into is that it already had a lot of history, conflicts, and prejudices. But, it also had a great amount of beauty and wisdom, and I was curious to see how much of each existed in 1979. What I learned from my investigation of the month I was born is that many of the problems going on today could be seen back then.
The biggest story from the month I was born happened in the same region that the biggest story of today is, and that is the Middle East. Even twenty-ninr years ago the region was in turmoil and Islamic militants were shaking up the order in the Middle East.
The month started with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returning to Tehran, Iran after almost 15 years in exile (“1979”). Beginning on February 1, 1979, it took the Ayatollah only ten days to create the Council of the Islamic Revolution, see his supporters take over the Iranian government and legal authorities, virtually dissolving the government of the shah, and on February 11, Khomeini seized power (“1979”). Not only did Iran become the first Islamic state in the modern era, but it turned a former ally of the United States into a fierce enemy that we still fight with today. The Ayatollah, along with Yassir Arafat, would become the face for Islamic militant resistance. Almost thirty years later, the relationship between the U.S. and Iran is as tense as ever, with the U.S. concerned with Iranian nuclear weaponry and Iran defiantly opposing President Bush’s “Axis of evil” label. On Valentine’s Day, there was more violence in the Middle East, as an American ambassador in Kabul, Afghanistan was kidnapped, and would later be killed, and China invaded Vietnam (“1979”). At the time, America was a few years removed from war with Vietnam and still twenty-two years away from war with Afghanistan. It makes me wonder whether Iran and the U.S. will fight.
Not all the news was from February, 1979 was bad, and there was a great deal of good entertainment on television, in theaters, and on the radio. Well, perhaps in films things were still kind of grim, because in February of 1979 The Deer Hunter was released and would eventually win multiple Academy Awards (“Released in 1979, USA”). The Vietnam drama was one of many films dealing with the war, including Apocalypse Now. On television, the shows like the Dukes of Hazard were beginning and shows like What’s Happening were coming to an end; they even tried to make a show based on John Travolta’s movie Saturday Night Fever, about a disco dancer making it, called Makin’ It (“1979 in television”). On the radio, Rod Stewart questioned his own sexiness with “Do You Think I’m Sexy?,” which would be on the charts for a month, and the Clash played their first U.S. show (“1979”). This is what I’m most familiar with, simply from watching the VH1 shows about loving different decades. When I think of the year I was born I usually think of disco music and Jimmy Carter, as it seems that nothing monumentally cultural was going on. But, then I remember all the other things happening at the time.
Atari was huge, as well as Speak-n-Spells and Lite Brites. I remember each of these later when I was a child. Pop culture still ran peoples’ lives, and that has not changed one bit. Celebrities like Sid Vicious, Jean Renior, Joseph Mengele, and Mr. Ed, the talking horse, all died in February, 1979, while Jennifer Love Hewitt and I were born (“1979”). The cycle of life in February of 1979 continued just as it always had before and always has since. Looking back on it all, not much has really changed in the last twenty-nine years, and there is still violence in the Middle East, and Islam and the West continuously clash, there are still war movies coming out about American wars, only now they have computerized special effects, and John Travolta continues to be a celebrity, only now it is mainly for his plane flying and his religious beliefs than his dancing, though now they have more dancing on television than ever. Looking back on February, 1979 makes me wonder what today will look like in 2037, and whether it will be looked at as tragic or comical, or both.
“1979.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Apr 2008. 11 Apr 2008.
“1979 in music.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 9 Apr 2008. 11 Apr 2008.
“1979 in television.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 Apr 2008. 11 Apr 2008.
“Released in 1979, USA.” IMDb.com. Apr 2008. 10 Apr 2008. 11 Apr 2008.