Ask A Genius 594: The Disco Era and the Distracted Era

In-Sight Publishing

May 26, 2021

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Ok, so, do you think that we’re going to see a level of debauchery in the post-Covid world, as we saw in the 1970s?

Rick Rosner: All right. So, before we get to now, we have to talk about America and European countries, too. So, the traditional wisdom is that the Disco Era was a hedonistic reaction to the end of a couple of tough eras in America, the end of the Vietnam War, which had been percolating along from the early 60s until the troops were pulled out in ’73.

But there was a token presence until Saigon fell. South Vietnam fell in 1975. Nixon had been president since ‘69, left office in mid-‘74, I think, and then after a few months, Gerald Ford pardoned him from being charged with.

That was the end of the Nixon Era, the end of the Vietnam Era. Gerald Ford, at least, Saturday Night Live presented him as a buffoon. But he was really a caretaker president. He was the first appointed president.

Nixon named him the vice president to replace Spiro Agnew. He had to leave because of a tax scandal and then Nixon resigned. Ford became president. So, he was the only president who wasn’t elected in some capacity. Every other president who took over had been, I believe, elected vice president, anyway. He supposedly relieved a nation, just wanted to kick back and go to discos and fuck each other indiscriminately for a few years.

Of course, a vanguard, the segment with the fraction of people who signify the era was always just a small fry. Most people were still doing what they normally did, which was go to work and have families and whatever else.

But there were things besides the end of Vietnam and Nixon that probably facilitated a lot of sex or the idea that sex is what you wanted to have. I think Stonewall was 1961. So, it took a few years for a promiscuous gay culture to arise because it was illegal in a lot of places, just completely clamped down until Stonewall.

Jacobsen: What was Stonewall?

Rosner: Stonewall was, I believe, a bar in lower Manhattan where there was a gay bar. The people in there just did finally had enough of being harassed by police and they rioted because it was illegal, I think, for guys to dance with guys in bars.

Cops would come in and just like brutalize the gay guys who just wanted to party with each other. So, there was a big riot, which led and marked the beginning of a lot of history of gay lib and throughout the 70s bathhouse culture.

Jacobsen: I’m asking for those who do not work in North America.

Rosner: Disco is something that probably began in the gay world and moved into this straight world. Now, there’s this digressing too much good to all that took place during the 70s that arose and gay disco fun turned into a straight disco on the pill.

I think it was released to the public, I think, in 1960. That probably took a long time to shift people’s attitudes about what good girls did. Guys were always down to fuck, but girls were very protective of the reputation.

Jacobsen: Do they get somewhere? Do you think it’s somewhat similar to now, too?

Rosner: What’s going on now? I think quite different, which we’ll get to; I think it also took a while to the idea that women could really enjoy the heck out of sex. I think that, outside of marriage, that took a long time to percolate into the culture. The pill made it possible for women to have sex with a very low risk of getting pregnant.

Jacobsen: What about reputational protection? Is that still the same?

Rosner: Nobody right now reasonably thinks that you’re a whore if you have sex outside of marriage. There’s not even a stigma now about getting pregnant before you get married. If you’re living with somebody, and if you get pregnant, and if you get married when you’re five months pregnant, there’s no scandal with that at all.

Jacobsen: Whereas in the 70s, it was a scandal.

Rosner: We have people who lied about it. But anyway, so, why was a big cultural focus on singles bars in the 70s, into the early 80s? People going to clubs to dance with each other, and hit on each other.

Then the end of it was over a herpes epidemic at the end of the 70s. Then in the early 80s, you had the rise of AIDS, and those two things put a big damper on the era. There was also a backlash against disco because it was very gay and glam and the opposite of manly rock, ZZ Top or not even that’s right.

But just like Leonard Skinner, Led Zeppelin, the guys who drove cameras. Disco Era lasted not even a decade. I missed most of it. I didn’t lose my virginity until 1980. I wish I had just gotten in New York a few years earlier, when Studio 54 was still operating, just gotten to a town with a lot of Jews in it where I wouldn’t have stood out as I did in Boulder.

It is like ethnic and also nerdy. I feel like I would have had a shot in New York to get laid a little earlier and there are lots of talks now about how people are going to go sex crazy when life really opens up again when the masks come off and Covid numbers make it safe to go out.

But for everybody who says, “Yes, we’re just going to go crazy.” There are people who say, “No, I’m just going to keep on staying home. I’m comfortable with that. I don’t need them, going out going crazy.”

Jacobsen: Do you think would you put yourself in that category?

Rosner: Well, I was when the Disco Era started. I was a teenager. Now, I’m sixty-one. I’ve been married for 30 years. We’re not swingers. So, there’s nothing. My situation has changed. I think there will be some hooking up.

But the culture is less sex-positive and less sex-obsessed when in the 70s people thought sex was the best thing you could do if you were lucky enough to do it. It wasn’t a wrong attitude because, as I’ve said a million times before, everything else in the 70s sucked.

Most entertainment was mostly bad. There were no video games. Food was bad. Clothing was bad. Everything sucked.

Now, there’s awesome entertainment wherever you turn and personalized distraction, personalized social media feeds. As we’ve talked about a bunch before, people are having less sex than they did in previous generations because there’s more to do; there’s more to distract you from sex.

Sex isn’t as big a deal compared to everything else as it used to be. There are a couple of other things going on. There wasn’t much porn available compared to now in the 70s. The Internet didn’t begin for most people until the mid-90s, but now there’s just porn everywhere on the Internet.

So, when people spent 14 months inside with Covid, there was a lot of jacking off going on from just an endless flood of porn available for anybody who wants to consume it and a cornucopia of porn reduces people’s desperation to hook up.

So there’s that, there’s MeToo, and just the overall reconsideration of the rapey-ness of eras like the 70s, where everybody assumed that you should just go along with that you’re a stick in the mud, a nerd, a loser.

If you didn’t, if you weren’t down for sex, which also meant being down for being hit on, the Disco Era was only five years after the Mad Men Era. So, there was a lot of harassment and a lot of people, women, maybe, mentally rolling their eyes.

They can all right. ‘This is, maybe, not what I want, but I’ll go along with it.’ This seems to be what’s expected. That whole thing has been re-examined where people are reconsidering the easy sexuality without knowing because most people who are out trying to hook up, or not, don’t remember the 70s.

But still, there’s been a reconsideration of behavior as it was in the 70s when you lived through it or not. Also, people’s bodies are different. We didn’t have an obesity problem in the 70s.

Jacobsen: Are you referring to what this has been called the obesity epidemic?

Rosner: Well, 70% of adult Americans are over their ideal weight. Now, you can say, “Well, yes who’s saying what’s ideal?” But, in any case like that, if you go by BMI, one-third of Americans are overweight and another one-third are overweight enough to be obese.

Jacobsen: And that’s also related to sex, though. Sex drive, like being fit, actually induces a healthy sex drive.

Rosner: No, I don’t think so. I think you can still be you can be fat and horny. If there were a lot of unhealthy reasons, there were unhealthy reasons. People were skinnier in the 70s. Food wasn’t this delicious. I think one major reason that people are overweight now is that food is delicious and cheap and plentiful.

It’s just hard to resist. In the 70s, jogging became popular, not all of America was jogging. It was exercise. Exercise became a thing. Cocaine was passed or again, not that much, but maybe 5%, 10%. I don’t know what percent of the population was doing coke, but the 70s were a skinny Asclepius era where the focus was on braless skinny, super skinny blondes, Charlie’s Angels.

So, now, people look different. The barriers for having sex with people have been down since the 70s.

Few people feel shame at having sexual relationships outside of marriage. That’s just long gone. How hot you need to be to have sex has fallen away in the 70s, the sex belongs to the hot people. It’s less so now. There are plenty of ways to arrange sex: Tinder and Grindr and Bumble and a gazillion ways from the most superficial aspects to relationships with the intent to marry somebody.

You don’t have to present as much of a front as you did in the Disco Era where you can arrange to hook up. You still have to put together enough of a front to put together an attractive Tinder account. But you don’t have to get your shit all together to look super good to go to the disco.

So, there’s casual sex, but along with sex, being casual is that people are casual about having sex. But they’re also casual about wanting sex. People are just not as desperate as my friends and I were 40 years ago.

Jacobsen: Do you think it’s a positive thing or a negative?

Rosner: You’re asking if this is a positive or a negative thing?

Jacobsen: Yes, sir.

Rosner: I think it’s probably a net positive. In that, as I’ve said, the sex ceremonies were coercive. People ended up doing a lot of shit they probably didn’t want to do at the same time. Maybe, it wasn’t that bad for most people because people who went ahead and tried stuff might have had fun doing it.

But still, people are more cognizant of the power structures around sex now, which is not a bad thing. Sex is not this way of keeping it less of a way of keeping score or keeping track of yours or affirming your status.

So, yes, overall, sex is more a thing you do when it makes sense to do it rather than the things that you’re culturally prodded to do. So, yes, that overall is a healthier thing. Also, I think there are a lot of shitty things going on in the world, especially politically, but in terms of how the world is to live in, the world is just a lot more entertaining and interesting.

We know a lot more. We have access to more information and all that is an improvement over the 70s. So, yes, people will b hooking up, but it won’t be the insane year after year of disco hooking up in the 70s.

Then you had a related question, which is, “Are we going to see a creative renaissance when everything opens up?” With the idea, people have been working on projects. During Covid, they are suddenly going to be a flood of new ideas into the entertainment marketplace.

Jacobsen: For our working relationship, it hasn’t changed any of that. We still do what we do.

Rosner: Yes, we’ve always been working on Skype for the most part. On Twitter, there’s a lot of talk of people saying, “Yes, I got absolutely nothing done during Covid,” just a few people saying they completed projects and other people saying don’t beat yourself up for not getting anything done during Covid.

Getting through Covid itself is an accomplishment, so, I don’t know. I think there will have to be a flood of new stuff because everybody watched everything, binged on everything, while they were locked up.

So, yes, I think we will see a bunch of new stuff, but I don’t think it will be an absolute avalanche. I think, and we still don’t know, what will happen with movies that there hasn’t been a movie, yet.

Where, people absolutely have to go see in a theater. There are movies that have been held back to see if they can be blockbusters in a theater. The James Bond movie has been held back for probably close to a year and a half now.

There are probably some other movies, but, somehow, the model for releasing movies just streaming on people’s TVs hasn’t been a complete disaster. So, I don’t know. I’ve got a project I’ve been slowly working on that should be ready to show to my agent if I still have an agent in a month or two.

But I’ve been saying a month or two for a year. So, who fucking knows? So, the amount of new entertainment, the possible renaissance will, I think, be anywhere from the levels that it has been rolling. The new stuff rolling out will be anywhere from 100% of current levels to 150%.

I don’t think it’s just going to be an absolute, like I said, avalanche. Then there’s one more area where did we lose a year of scientific research in progress, and technological progress. I really don’t know.

I can’t really comment on that except to ask the question because I don’t know how much somebody will figure out how much I should worry about technological progress. I want to live longer thanks to advances in medical science.

So, it really bummed me out if we lost a year’s worth of progress in medicine to people being locked down. I don’t think we lost totally unqualified to talk about it, but, maybe, we lost the equivalent of six or eight months.

People were working at half speed and being shut out of their labs. I don’t know other than that, except to say one more thing. In L.A. County, we’re down to like 200 cases, new confirmed cases a day, out of a population of 10 million

Which if that were the worst for the whole nation, that would be like seven thousand new cases in the US today, where, right now, we’re in the low 20s or a 3 to 31/2 times the L.A. County rate. That’s great for L.A. County and on the way to not being terrible for new cases down by 90% average across the U.S.

But only 5% of the world has been fully vaccinated. Only 9% has received even one dose of vaccine and almost no one in the 125 poorest countries on Earth has received the vaccine. So, the world isn’t done with Covid, and depending on how what happens with Covid variants, the Western world may not be done with it either. All right, the end.

Jacobsen: Okay.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


(Updated July 25, 2019)

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*

According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing hereRick G. Rosner may have among America’s, North America’s, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher HardingJason BettsPaul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main “Genius” listing here.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercialDomino’s Pizza named him the “World’s Smartest Man.” The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named “Best Bouncer” in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. He came in second, or lost, on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time-invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los AngelesCalifornia with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceVersusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Founder, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal (ISSN 2369-6885). Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.


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