Steyn writes of the sixties and seventies drug and sex culture, noting that it is dead but in memory and various basement markings. “If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there. If you can remember the Seventies, you aren’t here.” Those were the “cultures of the night.” Perhaps not as Frost imagined it.
But while the sexual revolution lasted it was a blast, wasn’t it? Michel Foucault, Caligula, the grottoes, Studio 54. I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard about it. Heck, my generation tries to reimage it however it can. Carry on the tradition of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Oh of course, none of us Christians ever talk about that because we were never there, even when we were “lost”. But I was there, and still am at times, at least in memory. So much drugs you thought you were flying. So many girls you thought you’d die. Or was it vice-versa?
Movies recapture the time. Movies like Boogie Nights or the most recent Vice. ZZ Top’s line as gets it, “Last night I saw a naked cowgirl. She was floating across the ceiling.” The stars, the wine, the shine of it all. Glory, heaven, love, eternity. But it ends differently.
Instead of an expansion it is a shrinking of experience. Instead of love it is loneliness. Instead of eternity the night ends bitterly, the high a hangover, the ecstasy in AIDS or some other form of death. Steyn recounts “what happened during the Seventies can be neatly encapsulated by the career of one Linda Boreman. Miss Boreman fell in with Chuck Traynor, an abusive fun-toting pimp who put her up to work servicing business clients who like to spank and whip. One day Mr. Traynor landed her a starring role in a film where she was mounted (by an animal). On the strength of this effort, she was signed for another (porn) film, for which she changed her name to Linda Lovelace. The movie earned the first ever “100” rating from Screw magazine, but even more surprisingly Time magazine and other mainstream publications ran stories on it, and the film took off – a porn film to Mr. and Mrs. America. The star was invited on The Tonight Show, shot a cover for Esquire, and turned up at Hollywood parties. Linda’s transition from involuntary prostitute to celebrity darling exemplifies the more general trend – of how the dark fringes of society crept into the centrality of our culture. “(Undocumented Steyn, 56)
Immoral as this is, and as horrible as the publication and popularization of it became, what happened next was even worse – though entirely predictable: Linda Lovelace and her act became boring. So did the Seventies, as well as the drug and sex revolution. What is left to do after you’ve done it all? Go grunge? Shoot oneself like Kurt Cobain? Declare there is no meaning and despair of life – which is what the Millennials are known for. That they can’t find direction or don’t take responsibility or can’t choose a career or don’t grow up – or even worse, that instead of all these they send nude exploitative pictures of each other and just want a hug before they post their last note on social media and commit suicide – are all indications of a deeper problem.
We are the after party started by our parents – “basement floors invisible under a writhing mass of interchangeable bobbing heads and thrusting members. There is no joy, no passion. They are called the Sexual Egalitarian and Liberation Festival, a revealing acronym: SELF. At the last party the floor was always full, but ultimately everyone danced alone.” (57) Once you’ve tried all that life has to offer – in all the wrong ways – and have found life boring, the inevitable question is “Why keep living?”
We are the fish who’ve jumped out of water, landing on the shore and declaring ourselves liberated, only to find whatever is the opposite of asphyxiation setting in shortly thereafter. The answer we need to hear is that we should get back in the water, back in that set of conditions only in which humans were meant – created – to live and flourish. Those conditions and that environment is found in God’s Word. All things apply: sex, joy, life, love, partying, dancing, marriage, maleness, femaleness, family, government, law, justice, life itself – all as defined and ordered by God’s word. Only there will we find true joy and life. And we can only go back there by the Way that is Jesus Christ. And as we wind back down that road, we’ll find grace is taller than our souls. The last dance for the Christian never ends.