Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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Big changes began also in music and in the fashion world during the Seventies in America. Rock ' n ' Roll became a huge industry generating billions of dollars. It was no longer just for protest and fun. It was big business. Blue jeans which had once been a form of rebellion now became chic with designer jeans becoming very popular on dance floors.

Disco took off as music technology became more and more sophisticated. Disco was a new form of electronic dance with a steady pulsing beat and catchy tunes. Lyrics focused on love, sex, and the excitement of disco dancing. The disco style avoided the heavy topics of politics and hardship that had been popular in the 1960's. Disco was great for dancing and offered a temporary escape into fantasy and sensuality for millions of Americans who were ready for just that. By the peak of the disco fad, 28,000 disco clubs flourished across America.

Americans wanted to dress with more style. Simpler styles were rejected. Women wore all kinds of pants, from velvet hot pants that showed the entire pair of legs to tailored pants with short jackets. Bell bottom pants made from colorful polyester were popular with men and women. Also high-heel shoes. Simple jeans, colored t-shirts and sandals which were popular during the Sixties were less and less popular during the Seventies.

Many big Rock ' n' Roll stars who had been part of the 1960's counter-culture died in the early Seventies. Big Rock stars like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin all died of drug overdoses. Their deaths reflected a loss of the energy and excitement that had drawn together a whole generation during the decade before.

The movie industry was also undergoing big changes. The birth of big block-buster movies like JAWS and STAR WARS signaled the end of serious artistic experimentation in Hollywood. Now the movie industry was becoming an even bigger kind of business as well. Shock and escape were now the newest forms of mass entertainment. American popular culture which had been taking over the world for most of the century was now getting ready to dominate the planet completely. Entertainment would soon become one of America's biggest exports as global problems became more and more complex and people everywhere wanted just a few brief minutes of escape.


August 8, 1974, Washington D.C. President Richard Nixon resigns from office. Why? In 1972, a former CIA men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel-office complex in Washington, D.C. Two reporters for the " Washington Post " traced connections between the men and President Nixon's re-election committee. Eventually their work led to investigations on national television by the U.S. Senate. Many of President Nixon's top advisors were forced to testify. Each had played a role in the scandal, and evidence soon pointed to President Nixon's involvement in authorizing a cover-up of the illegal break-in.

Many of President Nixon's advisors went to jail. The Watergate affair revealed a shocking degree of corruption in the Nixon administration. President Nixon had basically created his own private secret police to attack and discredit his enemies. Many American politicians were appalled by this violation of American law. In a separate scandal President Nixon's Vice-President was also forced to resign. Many Americans already skeptical of their government because of the Vietnam war, lost even more faith in their elected leaders because of the Watergate scandal.

What did this all mean? President Richard Nixon had been an enigma. Under President Eisenhower he had been a staunch anti-Communist who had persecuted many Americans who he thought were Communist spies regardless of the lack of evidence. Yet as President, Richard Nixon went to China and to the Soviet Union in an attempt to ease Cold War tensions. President Nixon did not start the Vietnam war, but he did end it. Yet, it took another four more years of useless fighting and also needless deaths for truce terms to be accepted, terms that had been available when President Nixon first took office.

President Nixon was against further government interference in American life, yet under his administration big government grew even more. President Nixon secretly taped all his telephone conversations and wire-tapped many of his closest aides. His paranoia was huge. President Nixon used American intelligence agencies to cover-up a series of criminal acts. Most other law-breakers would have gone to jail, but in a controversial pardon by his successor President Gerald Ford, President Nixon was spared this fate.

American politics in the Sixties and Seventies seemed to be getting out of control. Between 1933 and 1961, The American presidency was dominated by just three men, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S.Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower Yet, between 1961 and 1981, a much shorter time period, no less than six presidents would occupy the White House as times became confusingly more difficult. The Second wave was ending and no one knew how to proceed into the future. The post-modern era had unknown rules as technology and culture fused in new and unfamiliar ways. Strong and visionary leadership in this strange time of transition was simply lacking.

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