how we buried the '70s

From Holding Out For a Hero, a short book in blog form by Carl Neville about steroids, yuppies, Reaganism, and especially Schwarzenegger:

Westworld along with many of the Sci-Fi movies of the Seventies still partakes of a certain degree of technological utopianism, something which has evidently completely evaporated by the early eighties. Westworld still has all the trappings (as do its inferior sequel Futureworld, Donald Cammell's Demon Seed, Logans' Run. Thx 1138, A boy and his dog or Zardoz) of the future as Apollonian and post-scarcity, a techno-utopian Age of Aquarius ruled by benign and enlightened beings, though often of course this seeming paradise is built on a dirty secret which the Nietzschean central characters in their drive for truth must unmask while (to use the ugly and elitist contemporary expression) the "Sheeple" are content to unquestioningly consume and gratify their newly liberated desires. The out-and-out dystopian trend probably starts with George Miller's hugely influential Mad Max, set in a violent post peak-oil world in which civilization has collapsed and continued in the wildly successful sequel The Road Warrior from which almost all later dystopian cyberpunk/Sci-Fi takes its look.

Neville's blog/book reviews other pop culture tropes through the lens of this paragraph from his intro:

Neoliberalism may have heralded a rebirth in America, seen it rise phoenix-like from the ashes of the 70s, but this is a baptism in steroids, cocaine (and cocaine money) egotism, debt, cheap oil (and Arab oil money funnelled through American banks) deregulation and offshoring. In what sense are the questions of the Seventies, the environmental and social concerns, the Limits to Growth posed by the 1977 Club of Rome reports, actually addressed and solved by Neoliberalism, and to what degree are they simply ignored, held at bay in an essentially infantile thirty-year fantasy of growth and restructuring, that collapses along with the housing bubble of the late 00s? It seems that the financial crises along with numerous jobless recoveries have left us faced with the same set of problems that Neoliberalism was assumed to have permanently solved. The end of class struggle, the move away from manufacturing to services in the "core" economies (there is much talk at the moment of needing to "rebalance" the economy) the end of boom and bust.

Neville keeps coming back to Schwarzenegger as symbol of this inflated denial of the '70s critiques. A key text is 1977's Stay Hungry (a fascinating film, worth looking up):

Stay Hungry's vision is one of a compact between old money and the less nihilistic, more disciplined elements of the hippie/freak revolution. What it also offers is the sobering truth that generational conflicts, rejection of authority and struggles for independence and "new spaces" are often merely cyclical conflicts within capitalism, moments of rupture when the struggle for succession takes on a de-territorializing or anti-oedipal aspect that doesn’t offer any kind of definitive break with the past, but simply seeks to reconstitute old practices on new ground and in new guises.

Stay Hungry tells you that the entrepreneur, this fabled figure, the apotheosis of mankind for the Austrians, the Atlas upon whose shoulders all lesser men stand for the Randians, is not a heroic or titanic figure, not a Nietzschean self-creator, but a slumming, peevish child of privilege whose revolt consists in rejecting the family business and instead using daddy’s money and influence to do some cool shit of his own.

You start off with the Flat Earth News, a whole new business model and a bunch of wacky friends, but all the same you end up with Foxxcon.

In this passage Neville conflates the Jeff Bridges character (child of privilege) with his role model in the film (the bodybuilding, violin-playing reluctant ubermensch played by Schwarzenegger).

Afterthought: A Boy and His Dog, based on a Harlan Ellison story, had as its setting a Mad Max-like desert wasteland but there was still a society living well (if freakishly) in caves underground. Even Max had civil society, with a police force. Road Warrior was the one to really jettison all trappings of advanced civilization and imagine humans living the Hobbesian life in a vast junkyard. This is the image the current Galt-fantasists invoked when they saw images from Hurricane Katrina on TV.

Update, May 2018: Neville's blog was published by Zero Books under the less interesting but apparently copyright-safe title No More Heroes. The blog disappeared for a while but when I checked this month I noticed it was back online.