This is for people born in the 1970s

June 29, 2023

Remember Donahue? Remember Barney Miller? 

Sometimes something pops into my head that I haven't thought about in many years. Why is it that some things seem to linger on in the zeitgeist while other things disappear into obscurity? When was the last time you heard about WKRP in Cincinnati? Or head of the class, but I bet someone has mentioned Archie Bunker somewhat recently.

Trying to think back on the most obscure shows I can, I recall Pinwheel from Nickelodeon, the Giggle Snorks, You Can't do That on Television, Captain kangaroo, that where's the beef commercial, The Gummy Bears cartoon.

Is there any way to know whether the things we have now that are popular are going to still be with us in 40 years? Things like game of thrones, Rick and Morty, stranger things are so popular right now but so are a lot of the shows I mentioned earlier.

One thing I regret although it would be ridiculous to expect from my 6-year-old would be to have kept a journal. I wonder how many things from way back in the day that I used to be into that I haven't thought about in so long that it's been completely wiped from my memory. How many things out there does virtually no one remember? There has to be some random commercials that literally no one has thought about in the last 40 years, and which the tapes that it was originally recorded on have been lost, where all physical evidence and all memories have been lost in time.

Imagine all the things through the centuries that no one will ever know about. Things that were never written down but were spread by a word of mouth and then slowly everybody who remembered them died off. Most things are like if you go far enough back in time even very important things can disappear completely, big events that were written about in only one book that didn't survive the burning of the library of Alexandria.

Now that we have the internet and seemingly infinite storage with things like YouTube, it will be interesting to go back and see all the very obscure stuff. Maybe in the future there will be a kind of digital archeology where people look back hundreds of years of Media content. Perhaps some show or YouTuber will gain popularity in the future that they never had during their time. Perhaps there are people who resonate with what's happening in the future for some reason, someone who was found to be hilarious by our progeny.

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.” 

That is the oldest joke we know of, from 1900 BC in ancient Sumerian originally.

Here is another one from 1600 BC:

“How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

It feels like the human brain must think differently now than it did back then in order for that to have been considered humor. So much of our understanding of the world has to do with context. We don't have Pharaohs anymore, and catching fish is not something most people do. The fishing we have now is for sport, back then catching fish was a necessity for life. Life was so different back then that even jokes don't make sense to us.

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