1977 Time Capsule: The Donny & Marie Osmond Star Wars Mind Melter
As the Disney-owned Star Wars marketing juggernaut starts ramping up ahead of December’s much anticipated release of ‘The Force Awakens,’ I think it’s worth taking a look back to the days when Star Wars was new. For those who weren’t lucky enough to live through it, I don’t think it’s possible to understand just what a huge deal this flick was back then. It was a time when there was no internet. There was no cable TV (at least not around here.) We had four or five TV channels with which to glean as much pop culture as possible; compared to today’s limitless access to literally everything that has ever existed, those were very lean years. But, we took what we could get. And what did we get? During 1977 and 1978, we got a lot of Star Wars popping up all over the TV. What sounds like something that would be awesome to kids at the time often resulted in some truly bizarre stuff.
What do I mean? Well for starters there’s the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. You know, the one starring Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman and Art Carney, the one with Lumpy the Wookie and the Life Day celebration…George Lucas famously tried to track down and destroy every known copy of this only-aired-once TV special due to its’ beyond ridiculous levels of awful. I vividly remember being so excited that there was going to be a Star Wars special on TV! I recall standing in front of my third grade class during show & tell to announce proudly that “Star Wars is going to be on TV tonight!” And then, of course, I remember my young 8 year old mind being permanently warped by what was actually aired that night. Once seen, the bizareness of the Star Wars Holiday Special can never be unseen.
But the Holiday Special wasn’t the only Star Wars on TV around that time; no, it was everywhere. Every variety show (and boy, were there a lot of god-awful variety shows on the air back then) seemed to have a Star Wars themed segment. One of those was the Donny & Marie show. While George Lucas was spending so much time and energy making sure that the Holiday Special never saw the light of day again, I think maybe he should have spent a little more time and energy to ensure that future generations would never be subjected to the kind of pure 70’s ridiculousness ever again…
…But he didn’t do that. We can still turn back the clock and relive (or, more sadly, experience for the very first time), what 1977 pop culture looked like.
So what did 1977 pop culture look like? Well, it was batshit crazy. I don’t know any other way to put it. This clip is so unfortunately indicative of the kind of brain-altering programming an entire generation of youngsters were subjected to on an almost daily basis. The formula? Easy: Take some Star Wars, Donny & Marie Osmond, Redd Foxx, Kris Kristofferson, some truly cringeworthy variety show disco music,dancing stormtroopers and Paul Lynde. Throw in a pinch Thurl Ravenscroft as the voice of Darth Vader for good measure. Take all this and roll it all into 10 minutes of douche-chillingly awful television. There’s no explanation for it; there’s no way that, in a sane universe, stuff like this ever saw the light of day. But it did, every damn day. Looking back at it as an adult, I can only think that every single person involved in the television industry in the 1970’s was completely stoned out of their minds on drugs. Hard, hard drugs. There can be no other way to explain it.
This is madness, pure madness! Um, enjoy??