Pagan Kennedy is about my age and grew up in the suburbs, sort of like I did, except that I grew up in a little farming town outside the suburbs then was bussed in to a suburban school. In any case, I had many of my formative years in the seventies and remember them not entirely fondly. This seems to jibe with Kennedy’s experience of them except that where I just blithely thought of the decade as vapid and empty, she has actually explored all of the ways the decade was giving the appearances of freedom [for women, for gay people, for blakc people] while not being all that revolutionary. The seventies were when people realized that you could capture the counter-culture and sell it back to people and so they did.
Pagan Kennedy is no Tom Frank though her style and her lit-crit approach to the subject matter [how many times does she refer to a prototypical item as an ur-thing? more times than I needed to read it] are reminiscent of him. Where he comes across as well-researched, she seems more anecdotal and it only took a few stories of her or her friends saying something in the first person for me to realize that I couldn’t really relate to her experience of the Seventies. We watched the same TV shows but had different reactions. We shopped at the same stores but bought different things. I have a hard time determining if Kennedy is the expert on these things, or if she’s just a self-proclaimed expert, giving her opinion along ones like mine or my friends'. She listens to way too many eight track tapes according to her author bio, and maybe that highlights the difference between her attachment to the Seventies and my own, I’ve let mine go.