June 24, 2011

Fads.

We're talking about fads. It was my observation that the best fads were in the 1960s, but you might think that's a subjective perception caused by the fact that I was a teenager in the 60s. Correcting for that, the 1960s still wins in the competition among decades for best fads. Or so I assert, listing a bunch of great fads from the 60s off the top of my head: hula hoops, the twist, mini skirts, The Beatles, surfing, Afros, ironing your hair, long hair for males, love beads, happy faces.... surely there's more. I found this list of 60s fads on line. Bell-bottoms! Wide, paisley-patterned ties! Love-ins!

If you think some other decade can best the 60s in the fad category, make your case. But more generally, what do we think about fads? I was thinking that a certain type of fad — hula hoops — is a nice pop culture pastime. And then there is the labeling question: When does something stop being a fad? People use the word "fad" to put down something someone else thinks is important. Is blogging a fad? You might irritate some people by calling their pet concern a "fad": Worrying about the debt ceiling is a fad. Is there a time limit? Some new religion — Scientology — might be called a fad, but if you say "Christianity is a fad," people will know you are trying too hard to be provocative and — if they're smart — yawn.

Where did the word "fad" come from?
1834, "hobby, pet project;" 1881 as "fashion, craze," perhaps shortened from fiddle-faddle. Or perhaps from Fr. fadaise "trifle, nonsense," ultimately from L. fatuus "stupid."
Which reminds me: Fiddle Faddle is... a 60s fad! An even bigger popcorn-based 60s fad was Screaming Yellow Zonkers:
While the front of the package was simple and understated, the rest of the Zonkers box was completely covered with absurdist copy, accompanied by illustrations, informing the reader everything from “how to wash Zonkers” to “how to mate them”. The bottom of the box explained how to determine if it were indeed the bottom: “Open the top, and turn the box upside down. If the Zonkers fall out, this is the bottom. If they fall up, this is the top. If nothing happens, this box is empty.”
That was hilarious in the 60s, when smoking marijuana was also a fad.

138 comments:

mariner said...

I don't think smoking marijuana qualifies as a fad. It's still pretty popular.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's still pretty popular"

Please address the definitional question in the post: Is there a time limit?

Seven Machos said...

I think the reason fads have become lamer relates to the issue Michael Barone recently raised in his excellent piece about mid-century nostalgia among liberals. The fact is that things were more conformist then, even well into the 60s. There were common themes then, much more so, and things could could come and go in a more unified way.

Today, subsets and subsets of subsets are all over the place. People do their own thing and wail with it. And thanks largely to the Internet but also to the branching off through media in general, people can find each other easily and trends can become big with a segment of the population that others don't even know about it.

It pains me to admit it, but Cass Sunstein was really a pioneer when he wrote about this very thing in a book I did not like at all. I still don't agree with Sunstein that the loss of common culture and gatekeepers is bad, though.

windbag said...

www.crazyfads.com lists fads back to the 1950s by decade. Then they lump the 20s to 40s into one category. I was going to guess that the 1920s would be the closest rival. Not that this website is the authority, but according to their count, the 1980s had the most fads.

The 1970s was disqualified for the whole disco thing.

Mark O said...

What about "Civil Rights," "Free Speech," "Don't Trust the Government," and "Law School"?

Shouting Thomas said...

The 60s fads are very enduring.

But, even that is beginning to fade.

A classic rock band has been identified for almost 30 years as a band that plays 60s and 70s rock.

That is being supplanted now by the kids classic rock band that plays 80s and 90s rock.

Orgies were a great 60s fad. In Woodstock, the orgy fad lasted well into the late 80s, when it was killed by feminism. The cults of the 60s and 70s were loony hedonists, like the Rajneeshees, who believed in salvation through orgies.

Woodstock cults since the feminist triumph have been ghastly Puritanical crap, like the Farm Animal Sanctuary, which rescues, that's right, rescues farm animals. And the vegetarian thing is Puritanical and scolding beyond belief.

The anti-car, anti-gasoline fad has been a constant for 60 years. If you want to be thought of as a good, concerned person in Woodstock, you must profess your hatred of cars and gasoline.

And, a recent add on is Palin hatred.

Shouting Thomas said...

Please address the definitional question in the post: Is there a time limit?

Whew! That's a schoolmarm response!

windbag said...

@Althouse

Is there a time limit?

I think by definition a fad has to have come and gone. Otherwise, it's a revolution. The telephone was a revolution. Walkie-talkies were a fad about five to ten years ago, replaced by the surge in cell phones.

Cog said...

Back in the 60’s, my father told me where the word fad comes from—it comes from For A Day

Seven Machos said...

I think there is a time limit. Christianity, for example, could be called a fad among Jews of the First Century C.E. that spread for a long, long time. The necktie could be called a fad.

I think there has to be a strong, rapid upsurge in the phenomenon and then it has to decline strongly and quickly as well.

Skateboarding was a fad. Later, when the technology got better and the professional riders got getter, it became popular again and by now, I don't think you can call it a fad. Same with surfing. Same with smoking cigarettes.

Ann Althouse said...

The 60s had the best slogans too:

Don't trust anyone over 30.
Make love not war.
Do your own thing. (My favorite)
Let it all hang out.
We want the world and we want it now.
We are the people our parents warned us against.
Tune in, turn on, drop out.

(Just off the top of my head.)

Seven Machos said...

Orgies were a great 60s fad.

Bring it back! Also key parties.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think by definition a fad has to have come and gone."

No. Because people frequently say "That's a fad" to mean: that is only temporary and it will pass. There is a prediction implied that it will end, but it is often used before it has ended as a put-down.

bagoh20 said...

I thought the shortness of the popularity was the very thing that made it a fad, and I'd max that out at 1 year. After that, it's an "institution".

Consequently, two of our institutions that always make me happy, especially in combination are The Beatles and mini-skirts. Not The Beatles in mini-skirts - that would be a fad.

Old Dad said...

Hula hops were a 50s fad.

Ann Althouse said...

"Whew! That's a schoolmarm response!"

It's a law professor move. Haven't you noticed that this is a lawprof blog and I am performing random acts of law teaching all over the place, on line and around town.

It's my thing, man.

Shouting Thomas said...

I think that the hate Palin fad is one of the most interesting ones going on.

Hating Palin is now the first qualification for being a hipster.

It's some kind of shorthand for a laundry list of attitudes and beliefs.

If I want to get rid of some hipster friend on Facebook, all I have to do is say that I think that Palin is the cat's meow.

I am deleted within seconds.

windbag said...

@Althouse

It's my thing, man.

It'll pass.

gerry said...

Actually, the 60s, and its son, the 70s, were both pretty bad.

ET1492 said...

In the 1980s there was a weird fad of wearing a sweatshirt inside out. You could also buy them this way, with logos printed on the fuzzy side. I'm not sure which came first, the commercial or the homegrown version.

Pastafarian said...

To qualify as a fad, as I understand the term, a phenomenon must have a relatively short lifespan compared to its competitors within its niche. Bell-bottoms didn't last very long (although they'll occasionally pop up again in short-lived nostalgic spurts) compared to straight-legged jeans that have lasted over a century.

I also understand the term "fad" to have a negative connotation -- something is merely a fad if it's destined to have a short lifecycle because it's really quite inferior to its rivals, and it's only popular because of herd instinct. (See bell bottoms, unless you like the bottom of your pants to get wet every time you walk over slightly damp ground.)

"The best fads" is an oxymoron. I will agree that the 60s were full of fads.

And this ties into the last post: In the boomers, we had the most fad-prone herd-animal generation ever. When they grew up and became teachers, they continued this with their pedagogical fads that ruined public education.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse -- Those people making predictions that don't pan out are just wrong. Don't you think there is some negative connotation to the word fad?

Part of the meaning of fad is a thing that for mysterious reasons gains huge popularity. Part of the implication in the meaning is that for a true fad, you will look back later and say, "That was weird." There is a kind of vacuousness in the word itself.

bagoh20 said...

The slogans today are almost the opposite of the 60's ones. Back then, they said to be free, do what you want. Now, they tell you exactly what to do, or what's evil about your choices.

Another example of the greater push for conformity of today.

Pastafarian said...

Jinx, Seven Machos. You owe me a Coke.

Shouting Thomas said...

Here's a fad that lived for a short time in the late 60s among the super hip, radical leftists. It was invented by the Weathermen and copied at campuses all over the country.

Hippie leftists lived in communes that discouraged commitment between hetero couples. The most right (?) thinking of these communes posted a sleep assignment chart on the wall.

Nobody was allowed to sleep with the same person night after night.

The commune-ists were obliged to sleep with a different person every night. In the most radical communes, homo sleeping assignments were also mandatory.

This was thought to be the first step toward revolution.

traditionalguy said...

Is Sex also a fad then? The 1960's list had several 50s fads that carried over into the 60s. From watching TV, I believe sex started in the late 1950s and got more wide spread through the 1960s.

AllenS said...

I remember wanting to get a haircut called a flat top with fenders. Anybody remember that? Once I got in the Army, it was a flat top with white side walls. That wasn't a fad.

prairie wind said...

I think what makes a fad is the short-lived gotta-have-it stage that brings it to our attention. Silly Bands were a fad last year and my kids had to have them; this year, not even a peep about them and no one cares if I throw them away. Beaded friendship bracelets were a fad a couple of years ago among the middle-school girls. As were headscarves tied back behind the ears. And ponchos a few years ago. None of these lasted very long but were intense while they lasted. Fads for boys involve collections--Yugioh, Pokemon, Bakugan.

Some fads are adult--firepits on the patio are a hot item now (ahem). Indoor fountains are another. In the 90s, all new homes built included a jacuzzi but now they install soaking tubs instead of jacuzzis. Another current fad--perhaps even faded--is the cosmopolitan drink. Another fad in home fashion is words, phrases, whole sentences on walls. "Live, love, laugh" is probably recognizable to most of us.

Hula hoops were a fad before hulahoops went mainstream and fitness classes started to use them. There's a whole other category of fads--fitness. Remember the Thigh Master? We have the shake weight now.

I'm interested in fads that were short-lived but make a comeback. The comeback usually counts as nostalgia (sometimes ironic nostalgia) instead of a genuine fad. Toe socks that fit on toes the way gloves fit on fingers. Big in the eighties for a season but I've seen them in the stores again recently.

gerry said...

the orgy fad lasted well into the late 80s, when it was killed by feminism

And antibiotic-resistant STDs. And AIDs. And PID. And HPV.

Old Dad said...

Random 60s slang--wigged out, wiggy, groovy, trippin', the man, pigs, freak, freaky, freak flag, brother, bro', hot mamma, cool head, head shop, sock it to me...

Shouting Thomas said...

Woodstock, of course, was one of the epicenters of the radical commune.

About a year ago, I played at a fund raiser that featured John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful. It was essentially a rent party for Mike Esposito, who was an original member of The Blues Magoos, and is now Woodstock's Super Bicycle Repairman (and a lifelong friend).

I took Big Joe with me. He's one of my closet musician friends, but he's a Catholic family guy who's never been in the Woodstock scene.

When we walked in and I saw all my old friends from the late 60s in Woodstock, I said to Joe:

"This is the real Woodstock. Every person in this room has slept with every person in this room."

AllenS said...

"That's heavy, man."

bagoh20 said...

At the age of ten, I ran away from home to avoid getting a flattop. It was the begining of long hair and that cut was my parent's idea of hair.

I got bored and hungry in the late afternoon and returned home to get my flattop the next day. The cops started a local manhunt for me, which earned me the an enthusiastic parental spanking as well. Hair is important, and I'd do it again.

Seven Machos said...

Prairie -- I see fads coming back, too, in about 25-year cycles for the benefit of the contemporary middle-aged. I first noticed this when I was a little kid and that ridiculous 50s-esque music group Sha-Na-Na was big.

My theory is that we are able to bring back certain choice bits and leave all the crap from the same period aside. Like a do-over.

My theory is obviously weakened by Sha-Na-Na, wince they were crap, but there you have it.

Jose_K said...

In Woodstock, the orgy fad lasted well into the late 80s, when it was killed by feminism? AIDS did a better job in killing it.
60´s against the 50s:rocks, not the music, and doodles? it was an easy kill.
The true : people from the 60´s still dominate the discourse and and 70 were years of gloom and beside Star Wars there is nothing to remember , specially disco was made to forget. But wait until those that came of age in the 80´s takeover

Chip S. said...

Above all, a fad should be something fun, widespread (or at least hyped to the point of seeming widespread), be fleeting, and seem silly in retrospect.

By those criteria the 1950s give the '60s a run for their money. From crazyfads:

hula hoops (n.b.: 1958; not a '60s fad)
coonskin caps
Gumby
panty raids
telephone-booth stuffing
baseball cards clipped to bicycle wheels
tailfins

And they did all that without the help of LSD.

DADvocate said...

There were so many fads in the 1960s that I grew tired of them and avoid fads as much as possible. I'll even not buy something I otherwise like to avoid looking faddish.

My old hula hoop is still at my parents house, over 50 years old and well used.

The nonsensical nature of many fads in the 60s made them more fun. Fads seem more serious nowadays.

MamaM said...

"If it feels good, do it" was the slogan on the poster that created a stir when a co-worker hung it in the breakroom of the country club where I waited tables in the early 70's. Management made her take it down. Pretense was paramount.

Seven Machos said...

and 70 were years of gloom and beside Star Wars there is nothing to remember

I hereby censure you strongly until you watch Dazed and Confused at least three times. Please also observe the punk scene in London and New York City at the time.

Hop to.

Jose_K said...

Walkie-talkies were a fad about five to ten years ago. Sorry but are you from 1983?
The true some fads come once and again like walkie talkies,I had mines in 1972,sea monkeys,1950s and 70´s, yo-yos, marbles ,disaster movies,70s and 2000´s

DADvocate said...

The 1970s was disqualified for the whole disco thing.

Maybe disco is why I don't like fads. I hated/hate disco. Barry Manilow. Barf. Old John Travolta movies. Barf. (It's a testament to Travolta's talent that he rebounded from disco.)

Seven Machos said...

I once dated a girl who could hula hoop all day long is she wanted to. It was such a pleasure to behold.

She also had sand-dollar areolas.

Tibore said...

Nowadays, because of the internet, it's all about memes. Those are just like fads except, more fatuous, more annoying, more inane, but thankfully more transient and short lived.

Patrick said...

Fortunately, fads fade.

DADvocate said...

panty raids

Back to the fun aspect of fads. Panty raids are considered terribly sexist now. The grouchy PC has forbidden fun in numerous ways. But, we are having a thong fad, aren't we?

Shouting Thomas said...

It's a law professor move. Haven't you noticed that this is a lawprof blog and I am performing random acts of law teaching all over the place, on line and around town.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

The 60s had the best slogans too

Every one of them a horrible idea.

Jose_K said...

From watching TV, I believe sex started in the late 1950s
Mae West, Barbara Stanwick, Maureen OSullivan and Heddy Lamar were from 20´s and 30´s

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse -- Those people making predictions that don't pan out are just wrong. Don't you think there is some negative connotation to the word fad?"

Sure, but I was reacting to the assertion that the word should only be used to refer to something that has already gone. I think that person meant to say that it could also be used to apply to things that look like they aren't going to last long, but that's why I said the real issue you have there is with length of time: Is there a time limit? Something that lasts — what? 10 or 20 years? — is never a fad.

I think it might make sense to use the word "fad" to apply to anything that doesn't have secure roots in tradition.

Ann Althouse said...

"Every one of them a horrible idea."

Maybe. But they were great slogans. You need great slogans to sell something that's not intrinsically good.

I still think "Do your own thing" is a fine idea. (Up to a point.)

Ann Althouse said...

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!"

Yeah, that was a great slogan.

Seven Machos said...

Just today I read at Motley Fool some quote from the early 1990s of some investment banker calling the Internet a fad. Funny stuff. That person was obviously wrong.

In the midst of a fad, I do think it's usually unwise to label something a fad. The definition hasn't been met until there is a rapid descent in popularity roughly equal to the rapid ascent in popularity.

There are exceptions. You people had to know Pet Rocks were a fad while it was happening. Right?

k*thy said...

I think it might make sense to use the word "fad" to apply to anything that doesn't have secure roots in tradition.

Exactly, as they seem to come out of nowhere and fade away...like bellbottoms.

Seven Machos said...

Bell bottoms came out of jeans, which did not come out of nowhere.

prairie wind said...

Elephant pants were the real fad. Bell bottoms are still around.

Peter said...

Many of the things you mention are not really fads. To be a fad, a phenomenon has to quickly reach a high peak, and then rapidly fades. Something that sticks around for 5-10 years is not really a fad- it has to be a quick burst and then fade away.

Hula hoops are a good example. Apparently Wham-O sold millions of them in 1958, but fewer in 1959 and even fewer in 1960 or thereafter.

Of course you can still buy them. But, the fad itself (as all true fads must be) was short-lived.

Shouting Thomas said...

How about drinking and drug fads?

60s = pot and acid
70s = tequila and cocaine
80s = ?
90s = ecstacy and designer martinis

Please fill in the blanks

Chip S. said...

Interesting stuff turns up when you google fiddle faddle."

Seems like a very refreshing snack.

Geoff Matthews said...

Maybe fads are a young person's game. The 60s had, proportionally speaking, a huge number youths to market to (manipulate?), and you didn't have a cheap media tool (internet?, and TV was still pretty young) to spread them as quickly.
I'm guessing that what you have here are a number of regional fads that got a solid base and then gained some level of national prominence.
Today, that couldn't happen. A fad (or meme, or are memes a fad?) can be communicated quickly, and then become passe in a matter of months.
I imagine that TV, in its maturity, was able to do this to some level in the 70s and 80s.
Of course I could be wrong . . .

rdkraus said...

ET1492 said...

In the 1980s there was a weird fad of wearing a sweatshirt inside out. You could also buy them this way, with logos printed on the fuzzy side. I'm not sure which came first, the commercial or the homegrown version.


I still have cut off short sleeve sweat shirts that I wear inside out and work out in. Had em a long time, but not since the sixties. The whole idea was to hide the commercial side. Now you're telling me there were commercial inside out sweatshirts.

Stop it man, you're blowin my mind.

Slogans:

Keep on truckin.
Bro. Brother. Bro-han.
Don't bogart that joint (my friend).
Shoot that gauge my way Ace.

God those were dopey times.

MadisonMan said...

The 1970s brought us streaking, click-clacks, pet rocks, mood rings.

There are probably lots of fads going on now, but I'm not young. Fads are for the young.

Michael K said...

One of the guys who invented the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee died a couple of years ago. The story is here. They marketed an amazing number of the "fads" of the period. Very inventive guys (who both graduated from my alma mater).

LordSomber said...

Tattoos on hipsters = permanent bellbottoms

MadisonMan said...

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!

No, you're part of the precipitate.

windbag said...

@Jose K

Walkie-talkies were a fad about five to ten years ago. Sorry but are you from 1983?
The true some fads come once and again like walkie talkies,I had mines in 1972,sea monkeys,1950s and 70´s, yo-yos, marbles ,disaster movies,70s and 2000´s


...um...they were popular (again) about five to ten years ago. You couldn't go to a theme park w/o seeing hundreds of people marching around, shouting into their walkie-talkies, coordinating their adventure. Ushers even reminded people to turn the things off prior to shows. Now that everyone (it seems) is texting these days, those things have become obsolete...again.

Shouting Thomas said...

The Tramp Stamp seems to be hanging on forever.

Gives you something to look at while you're doing it Doggie Style.

Sheepman said...

"Is there a time limit?"

Perhaps something between a fashion and a craze.

Michael K said...

I am happy to say that I missed the 60s as I was totally engaged in medical school, internship and residency. Working hard and enjoying the 60s seem to be mutually exclusive. Teenagers, of course, are expected to enjoy such trends but the adults were pretty sad. They just didn't know it.

MadisonMan said...

Talking about fads is such an in thing right now.

prairie wind said...

Elephant pants.

I grew up in a small midwestern town and one of the fads that drew the most attention was the hippies. We always knew when they were in town because they drove hippie vans or Bugs covered with those flower decals. Hippies were not socially acceptable in my town. Strangely, the hippie long hair and the hippie drug habit caught hold amidst all that disapproval, and were firmly in place for the seventies. Some old classmates are still dealing with the fallout. I started to say, "Probably not much fallout from the hair," but that would be wrong, judging by my brothers' baldspots.

cassandra lite said...

The Beatles were a fad? Someone tell Steve Jobs and iTunes. Meanwhile, surfing's never been more popular not just in this country but around the world. You might as well say that FM radio was a fad in the 60s.

AllenS said...

"Far out, man."

Third Coast said...

Was it an accident that smoking marijuana in the 60's was followed by the Pet Rock in the 70's?

Mr. Forward said...

But what if Hula Hoops were not a fad?
Would that be bad?
If Hoops were still upon the scene,
Would we all fit in our jeans?

AllenS said...

"Do you dig it?"

AllenS said...

"Are you hip?"

BJM said...

@Shouting Thomas

Palin is the new Nixon.

jamboree said...

The 1920s and the 1950s would definitely be contenders.

And yes, I think a "fad" implies a time limit. If it stays popular it becomes "classic".

jamboree said...

i.e. smoking banana peels (60s) and snorting Vitamin C (80s) were "fads". Weed is a classic like martinis. I thought hula hoops were 50s for some reason.

ET1492 said...

fad: lolcats

not fad: lol

Nonapod said...

Fads are a fad. I think "fads" as a concept will die off soon. Our modern culture is so hyper-connected, over analyzing, and recursively self referential that any concept or trope or meme is identified and categorized at neuron speed. We've become participants in our own jokes on ourselves.

traditionalguy said...

jOSE k... You correctly noted that the 20s and 30s had a fad of "it girls" that were implied to be sexual tramps. But the very idea that married people would sometimes have sex at home with each other was a late 1950s development.

gerry said...

Tattoos on hipsters = permanent bellbottoms

I tell any kid I talk to to go into dermatology. When the tattooed reach forty, they'll be looking for nice, clean removal.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@shouting

"The Tramp Stamp seems to be hanging on forever.

Gives you something to look at while you're doing it Doggie Style."

It does seem to be purposeful that certain women provide a bit of 'art' for members of their 'deposit' club.

It probably is a fad.

So are earrings (when 2 are worn) for guys. I think it makes younger ones look more like little girls.

Isn't it interesting how attempts to be different end up being their own form of 'conformity'.

Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that I would agree with the poster who suggested that fads need to be fairly short to be fads, like the hula hoop. I would throw some of Ann's in there. Not the Beatles.

Maybe it is that some trends first manifest as fads, but then they don't go away all that quickly. I would throw drugs and the Beatles in there.

In any case, of course the best fads were in the 1960s. I too was a teenager then, but always thought that ironing hair was ludicrous, though there were girls at my high school who did so. No fros though - lily white HS, and the Black Power thing was still a year or two away.

BJM said...

We Shall Overcome.

Looking through a cigar box of 60's buttons from the Haight a few jump out:

Make love, not war
Tune in, drop out
Hell no, I won't go!

and this one made me LOL

Really blow Your Mind, Elect Ronnie President.

Lem said...

The drive in movie theaters..

That lasted for a couple of decades, if my movie references recollection serves.

Lincolntf said...

I love Fiddle Faddle, Screaming Yellow Zonkers (it's been years, but they were delicious), and Cracker Jacks equally, but sometimes I'll go forever without having any of them.
Grocery list just amended to include "candied popcorn product, surprise me". We'll see what she does with that.

rdkraus said...

Beatlemania was a fad.

The Beatles were not a fad.

ampersand said...

If you got hula hoop off the top of your head, then, obviously, your head's too big.


Hula hoops were a 50s fad.

bgates said...

Interesting how many fads are based on circles.

Hula hoops. Frisbees. Afros. Smiley faces. Obama.

Also interesting how fads depend on an adolescent mindset.

Chip Ahoy said...

Are lava lamps a fad? I've always thought those oversized paper lanterns were fads, but they sure do have staying power. Same thing with sconces and those Newton Cradle desk things that transfer energy or momentum or whatever.

Clackers. Super Balls? Pet rocks, of course. Do people still play Trivia Pursuit? Velcro in place of shoelaces. Nehru jackets. Glass cutting kits that make drinking glasses from bottles. Macrame anything. Decoupage. Faux marble painting.

zt said...

Tats have held on for a ridiculously long time. The older Gen Xers (first tat-as-hipster-fad gen) are already in their 40s, yet the 12-yr-olds still want them.

A related 20-something Christian kid just got AN ENORMOUS BIBLICAL tat on his chest. Going by the content of the quote , my guess is A. he'll either come out as gay in a few years or B. We can officially say tats have passed their peak.

Trooper York said...

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.
Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier.

He fought single handed through the Injun war,
Till the Creeks was whipped and peace was restored.
And while he was handling this risky chore,
Made himself a legend, forevermore.
Davy, Davy Crockett the man who don't know fear.

When he lost his love, and his grief was gall,
In his heart he wanted to leave it all,
And lose himself in the forest tall,
But he answered instead, his country's call.
Davy, Davy Crockett, the choice of the whole frontier

He went off to Congress and served a spell
Fixin' up the government and laws as well.
Took over Washington, so we hear tell,
And patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear. (Serving his country well)

When he come home, his politickin' done,
The western march had just begun.
So he packed his gear, and his trusty gun
And lit out a grinnin' to follow the sun.
Davy, Davy Crockett, Leadin the Pioneers.

His land is biggest, and his land is best
From grassy plains to the mountain crest
He's ahead of us all in meeting the test
Followin' his legend right into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wide Frontier
King of the Wild Frontier.

prairie wind said...

I don't think people play Trivial Pursuit anymore because we know by now who will have all the answers and we don't want to play with that know-it-all. Plus, the card sets became, necessarily, too specialized, leaving the game interesting for the one person in the room who thought it was worth spending money on that card set. Trivial Pursuit was a fad but it started a trend toward "board games" that are really more like parlor games. Balderdash, Apples to Apples, and so on.

Super balls are still around because they are just that fascinating to boys.

Velcro is no fad; it is here to stay. Much easier to teach four-year-olds to strap on their shoes than to teach them the loop-de-loop with laces. My own kids, brilliant as they are, refused to wear shoes with velcro once they knew how to tie their laces. Kids refusing to wear shoes with velcro means it is no fad.

WineSlob said...

The LSD Fad-sters were Freaking
The Unbathed Hippies Were Reeking
But the Best Fad of All
When the Apparel Would Fall
Was that Sneaking, No-Peaking, Ass-Cheeking STREAKING!

Chuck66 said...

The 70s for guys....short shorts and long hair. I am so glad I wasn't around then (well I was, but I was in single digits yet in 1980).

I like short hair and longer shorts.

Mr. Forward said...

If Davey Crockett was a Fad
He wouldn't still be King of the Wild frontier
Now would he?

Chuck66 said...

I am a child of the 80s (mostly mid-late 80s) and recall fads that seem fine.

Guys wearing long trenchcoats.

And some that look silly today.

Guys wearing vary large plastic frame glasses.

Scott M said...

Tube socks with colored stripes pulled all the way up in the 80's along with starched collars on shirts and (shudder) denim jackets with their sleeves rolled up.

And the most unholy of fads...

...mullets.

Chuck66 said...

Everytime I watch the movie Wall Street (1987), the characters look goofier and goofier.

They look less like big roller financiers in NYC, and more like a small town insurance salesman who hasn't gone shopping in 20 years, but still thinks he looks cool.

Scott M said...

Tube socks with colored stripes pulled all the way up in the 80's

To back up that fad memory, the one and only cultural reference I can think of, if it can be so called, is a scene from "Zapped" with Scott Baio sporting some while bike riding.

Dan said...

how bout piercings, everywhere? including down there....I think that might qualify as a fad?

Carol_Herman said...

Do you know that wearing jeans came on board, then?

At first, you could only buy them in Army & Navy stores.

Then, if you wore them while traveling to anyplace in Europe ... people would offer you a lot of money if you gave up your pair.

French fashion went down the toilet.

Nothing wrong with that.

Carol_Herman said...

Before 1937, pot was legal.

All our drug laws are written to benefit pharmaceuticals.

And, our War on Drugs is on par with what the ATF does. They get money from taxpayers, to arm themelves to the hilt. And, then they go and arrest teenagers.

Biggest stupidity and fraud that we manufactured ourselves.

And, no, marijuana is not a gateway drug.

While over in afghanistan, their whole export market is based on poppy. Nothing we've been doing for the past 10 years ... has put a stop to all that growth.

How come?

Paddy O said...

I can't wait until the fad of those giant sunglasses is over, the kind that make women look like big insects. Who thinks this is attractive? It's not. It's just what is the fad.

I've long thought fads were a way of reigning in the pretty and popular people by grounding them in something that's absurd or foolish, so those glasses fit perfectly (the only thing they fit perfectly).

The fad of fads is not over, but has taken new life on the internet, where memes and particular websites are the fads of the day.

However, I do agree that the 60s were the peak of fads. Everyone who was anyone was a nonconformist and non-conformed in the same way, so had to follow whatever silliness the herd was up to. Now fads tend to be more tribal, with different social groups connecting online and experiencing their own passing fads unique to them.

Carol_Herman said...

Now you want a fad from the 1970's? Nehru suits.

And, polyester pants.

cold pizza said...

Valley Girls. Farmville. Bombing countries that aren't an imminent threat to US interests. Trolling Althouse. -cp

wv: "unsups," polite term for vomiting.

Paddy O said...

Wars are violent fads. We had our European fad, our East Asia fad, and now we're in our Middle Eastern fad. All the cool countries want to bomb something in the Middle East.

In the 1800s, the US was very emo and into cutting itself.

Chuck66 said...

Yes, the giant bug-eyed sunglasses. Proof the women and girls (especially college aged) will where anything, no matter how stupid they look in them, if it is popular right now.

edutcher said...

Agree with the idea that the 50s were wall-to-wall fads. This was when Big Everything discovered the purchasing power of the Baby Boomers.

I also think a lot of stuff attributed to the 60s can be found to have really begun in the 50s.

Ann Althouse said...

The 60s had the best slogans too:

Don't trust anyone over 30.
Make love not war.
Do your own thing. (My favorite)
Let it all hang out.
We want the world and we want it now.
We are the people our parents warned us against.
Tune in, turn on, drop out.

(Just off the top of my head.)


I seem to remember some Lefty apparatchik at the time describing those as pre-digested pablum to hoodwink the gullible.

Or words to that effect.

(you really did go all hippie)

prairie wind said...

Elephant pants.

What The Blonde calls the waist-high, cotton, no-frills women's undies.

Mr. Forward said...

If Davey Crockett was a Fad
He wouldn't still be King of the Wild frontier
Now would he?


He is as far as I'm concerned.

Lionheart said...

Valley Girl Speak. Thought is was a fad but now have 31 and 17 year old nieces who can lapse into it at the drop of a hat.

Currently, women who intentionally speak low in the throat and sound as if they are gargling nails. Seems some think it gives them gravitas but I find it un-listenable. Hope, hope this is a fad.

LordSomber said...

I tell any kid I talk to to go into dermatology. When the tattooed reach forty, they'll be looking for nice, clean removal.

About 15 years ago I made a spoof flyer for a tattoo removal business, before I knew that any existed.

Headline: "You've got your degree, now get a life!"

Shoulda gone into dermatology.

Ann Althouse said...

"Currently, women who intentionally speak low in the throat and sound as if they are gargling nails. Seems some think it gives them gravitas but I find it un-listenable. Hope, hope this is a fad."

Yes! It's called "creaky voice."

Old RPM Daddy said...

In a Survey of Industrial Engineering class when I was a freshman (early 80s), the instructor, a doctoral student, walked up to the podium wearing shades, a ripped sweatshirt, and legwarmers, and proceeded to tell us about marketing, which was supposedly connected somehow with our major.

The instructor was a dude. Flashdance, a fad in itself (and a truly putrid movie), launched at least two of the fads our instructor wore to class that day, and proceeded to lecture on.

(Yes, I'm aware that dancers actually had a use for legwarmers, but most of the people who wore them weren't dancers.)

Lionheart said...

Thank you Ann for Creaky Voice ref. What I hear now is Garance x3. There was a woman on one of the house hunter shows who dropped into Super-creaky for the final few words of every sentence. Unintelligible for the most part and irritating at every instance. Her normal voice was high and normal, not Suzanne Pleshette-like at all. Could also be called Creepy Voice.

yashu said...

Re things that appear to be (or to have been) fads, but somehow turn out to have a longer, deeper life in the culture.

One example of this-- which Seven Machos references above-- is skateboarding, a point made in the Dogtown & Z-Boys documentary, at the beginning of this clip.

What appeared for all the world to be a short-lived kiddie fad (like the yo-yo or hula hoop) is taken up by some kids and transformed into something more durable, engaging, significant (not just as a sport, but an aesthetic).

What made the difference? From this documentary, a few hypotheses come to mind. The (not just a) fad might tap into some deeper vein of aesthetic and/or cultural significance. E.g. the doc makes the case that the work of Craig Stecyk (photographer/ writer) gave skateboarding this kind of resonance. The (not just a) fad has to allow for resurrection, development, evolution, variation, reinterpretation, recontextualization.

But of course, it starts with the kids practicing it. The (not just a) fad taps into some vein of authentic joy, pleasure, ecstatic experience (akin to surfing). With that humble, apparently gimmicky little instrument, some kids manage to attain genuine artistry, beauty, grace (what they call "style"). So in this case, the (not just a) fad generates performance/ work that has real aesthetic power-- something that can be appreciated by outsiders (so it's not just a matter of extreme skill in a practice that is only of interest to its practitioners). And of course, the creation of a rebellious, transgressive ethos helps to overcome the "kiddie fad" label.

By the way, I love this documentary, even though it's narrated by Sean Penn & I've never skateboarded in my life (though I was very fond of the surfer/ skater boys in high school). Some of that footage, of kids basically at play, is as beautiful, graceful, breathtaking, as any dance I've ever seen. I'm not such a fan of what skateboarding has evolved into-- big-bucks X Games, blood-curdling death-defying feats-- but I'm always likely to stop for a few minutes at any local skate spot I come across to watch the kids do their thing.

Any other examples of likely-fads that turned out not to be? And what made the difference?

Scott M said...

I think I'd rather watch a 12 hour marathon of “Al√≥, Presidente” than listen to a skateboard movie narrated by one Sean Penn. When he narrates, can you hear him pouring buckets of water out of his sinking dingy?

Mickey said...

Someone please reassure me that Facebook is a fad? I'm not on it and can't imagine I ever will be, so I worry sometimes that civilization will leave me behind or something.

Then again, it turns out email was a kind of fad, along with talking on the phone and watching television.

Pretty soon it's gonna be, "you still SHOWER?"

Uhh,,, yes?

mariner said...

Ann Althouse,

"I think by definition a fad has to have come and gone."

No. Because people frequently say "That's a fad" to mean: that is only temporary and it will pass. There is a prediction implied that it will end, but it is often used before it has ended as a put-down.

Well, after almost fifty years we're still waiting for the popularity of marijuana smoking to end.

If it ever fades from popularity we can examine whether its time was too long to be considered a fad.

Since it has not the issue is not ripe for judgement.

Marijuana smoking is not a fad.

Seven Machos said...

Scott -- The skateboarding movie is really awesome. Check it out. Sean Penn doesn't talk much.

MikeinAppalachia said...

edutcher-
As of 1959, the oldest Boomer would have been about 12-13. Not a lot of purchasing power there IIRC.

Popville said...

The spousal unit was crushed when ConAgra dropped Screaming Yellow Zonkers after buying the manufacturer. May they be hacked by LulzSec. I've heard there are cultists attempting to recreate their original taste -- faster please!

Note: They are not the same nor taste the same as Fiddle Faddle, etc. Not even when stoned.

PS: Fave 60s fad was MOD. MOD clothing rules even today, as do Vespa scooters & girls dressing like Cathy McGowan (unfortunately only still in Japan). Least favorite fad was Madras pants (bleh!).

mishu said...

edutcher-
As of 1959, the oldest Boomer would have been about 12-13. Not a lot of purchasing power there IIRC.


MOM! Mom! You gotta get me that ! Come on mom! Mom!


What were you saying about not much purchasing power?

yashu said...

Mickey, you & me both. Not on Facebook & don't ever want to be. But yeah, sometimes the culture makes one feel that not being on Facebook is like not having an email address.

I guess the distinction here is not so much being a fad or not (I can see Facebook, or rather the use of social media like Facebook, not being a fad), but whether it attains the status of a social/ cultural necessity (like phone/ email/ internet access). Whether not being on Facebook will come to mark one as an eccentric outsider to social & cultural life. Off the grid.

I hope not. But then, I don't mind being a hermit crab in a lot of ways.

Phil 3:14 said...

It's a law professor move. Haven't you noticed that this is a lawprof blog and I am performing random acts of law teaching all over the place, on line and around town.

Sorry Professor but for some reason that response reminded me of this movie scene.

(And the way the voice changes reminds me of this)

yashu said...

Scott, listen to Seven. Actually, Penn's narration here is one of the very few things I've ever liked about him.

dick said...

Actually I will go with the 20's as having the best fads. They totally turned over the whole society. The 60's did too to an extent but the 20's had a whole lot more to turn over and they did it better as well. And no matter how much you love the music of the 60's you cannot beat Jerome Kern, Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the early jazz people. They make the Beatles look ridiculous. More dance crazes in the 20's as well and the various singing styles too. Add in the comedians of the day and compare and contrast to the current and which hold up better. Not even close on that one. And how about the literature and the plays. To think they did all this and still held together as families, something that cannot be said of the 60's. IMNSHO the 60's are way overrated for what they did. In fact what they did have really dumbed down the country.

LawGirl said...

80s teen here. Let's see . . there were:

Parachute pants and wearing a single spangled glove, courtesy Micheal Jackson.

Gel shoes.

Hair bands (the kind that play guitar, not the kind that actually hold hair).

Hair bands (the other kind, as in Flashdance and that movie with Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta doing aerobics).

Aerobic.

Leg warmers.

Mullets

Break-dancing

Rubiks cubes (and its pyramid and other shaped cousins).

Atari.

"friendship pins" (safety pins with beads that girls pinned their shoes)

Wearing an overlarge sweatshirt exposing one shoulder with a tank top under.

Madonna wear.

BIG hair.
I'd say the 80s can compete in fad-dom.

"shaker" sweaters.

LawGirl said...

Sorry for some out-of-sequencing. It's hard to edit on a iPad.

Carol_Herman said...

Interesting, that we "look back" to see "fads." Without remembering how epidemics of diseases terrified city twellers.

I guess we got to penicillin. To make people worry about silly things, instead?

LawGirl said...

Carol, "fads" happens to be the subject of this thread. Maybe the next one will be epidemics or . . . Oh, I dunno, perhaps the current economic turmoil. (Because we all know there have never been posts on such weighty topics here. <_< ).

LawGirl said...

I can't believe I forgot neon clothing! My wardrobe glowed in the dark for about a year.

Michael K said...

I tell any kid I talk to to go into dermatology. When the tattooed reach forty, they'll be looking for nice, clean removal.

The same is true of hearing aids. I was in Costco a couple of years ago at the eyeglass stand. I was talking to the young folks working there. One of the girls was getting out of eyeglasses (optician) and going to hearing aids. In ten years, half the population will be wearing them or wishing they could afford them.

Michael K said...

Someone please reassure me that Facebook is a fad? I'm not on it and can't imagine I ever will be, so I worry sometimes that civilization will leave me behind or something.

I got a facebook page to post family photos of my five kids when they were little. Most of the rest of it is pretty lame.

My daughter (then 18, now 21) complained when I warned her that her profile photo was too suggestive. The pervs can still see the profile photo. She got so mad at me for saying so that she said she wished she had never made me a friend.

So, I unfriended her.

Wow ! it was like attempted murder !

Facebook is useful for very limited purposes.

Mary Beth said...

I was just watching this and remembered another '60s fad. Go-go boots!

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Do they still make Zonkers?

Lincolntf said...

Wife picked up a box of Crunch n' Munch for me this morning. I'd forgotten that brand.