My wife somehow spent the 1970s and 1980s totally oblivious to contemporary culture. As a child, she was a voracious reader of authors who had been dead for decades if not centuries, she taught herself more about science than most physicists learn in a lifetime, and she would watch thirty year-old Bugs Bunny cartoons when they were repeated on Saturday mornings, but otherwise I have yet to find any evidence that she had any idea what the rest of the planet was enjoying until she chanced upon an episode of MacGyver, of all things, in 1985.
With this in mind, tonight we watched another episode of The Six Million Dollar Man with Farrah Fawcett. She plays a different character in this episode, a reporter called Victoria Webster. She catches some film footage of Steve in action, and, pursuing a story, demands that Steve and Oscar spill the beans. Meanwhile, her desperate boss sees Steve as a different sort of meal ticket.
After we watch something with our son, we often talk about the bigger picture behind what we’ve seen. My wife wanted to talk about how important and how brave reporters are, to risk their lives to confront people in power. That’s a big thing, of course, though I found it almost tone-deaf that a TV show would, just four months after President Nixon resigned, have a top government agent coldly demanding that a news reporter sit on a story. We’re definitely on the side of the press and the media.
But I wasn’t going to talk about the thankless job of the press. I wanted to point out that Farrah Fawcett’s hairstyle was arguably the most popular in the 1970s, and that something like a quarter of the nation’s women were known to feather their hair to the sides the way that Farrah did. And my wife had absolutely no idea that Farrah Fawcett was responsible for popularizing that style. No idea at all. She says she always hated that look and now, forty years later, at last knows who to blame for it.