add | about | contact | recent
prev | next authors. tags. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

party poker


[Milton Bradley TV ad, Stay Alive (1978)]

Milton-Bradley’s board game STAY ALIVE was a hole-pocked plastic contraption that featured several sliding bars situated around the perimeter of the board. You and up to three other players placed your respective marbles on the board, took turns sliding the bars, and hoped your marbles didn’t fall through the holes. In the ’70s, you were a winner if you could just STAY ALIVE.

Through the magic of ordinary language, “survival” and its twin, “survivor,” wrote the 1960s out of history as a mistake and translated the 1970s performance of any act of personal or professional stability (holding a job, remaining married, staying out of a mental hospital, or simply not dying) into heroism. First corrupted as a reference to those “survivors” of the “the sixties” who were now engaged in “real life,” the word contained an implacable equation: survival was real life. Soon enough, anyone whose material or physical existence was patently not in jeopardy could claim the title of survivor, and to be named a survivor was to receive the highest praise.

– Greil Marcus: Lipstick Traces)

The Bee Gees were unfortunately “Stayin’ Alive,” Gloria Gaynor sang “I Will Survive,” and a spate of disaster films from Airport (1970) to Survivor (1980) used survival as a weak plot device.

The grip of the survival mentality seemed to tighten as the decade went along, until it seemed as if almost every new non-fiction book was about surviving something: tax audit, shark attack, economic crash, or divorce.

– Candi Strecker: It’s a Wonderful Lifestyle: A Seventies Flashback (part two)

The macro itself is used whenever you achieve some banal little victory. Here’s a partial list of the survivors:

Martin & Finley – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor” (1974)
Fanny – Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivors (1974)
Barry Mann – Survivor (1975)
Freddie Prinze – “Survival” (1975)
Lynyrd Skynrd – Street Survivors (1977)
Neil Diamond – “Surviving the Life” (1977)
The Bee-Gees – “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)
Bruce Johnston – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor” (1978)
Hot Chocolate – “Every 1’s a Winner” (1978)1
Randy Bachman – Survivor (1978)
Eric Burdon – Survivor (1978)
Survivor – Survivor (1979)
Dave Kelly – Survivors (1979)
Samson –- Survivors (1979)
Patrick Hernandez – “Born to be Alive” (1979)
Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive” (1979)

1 Hot Chocolate released eight albums; there are nine “best of” compilations.

Jeff Stendec (December 25, 1993)

Tags: ad | exclamation | tv