Why Was Disco Ever Popular? Blame Fake News.

While Donald Trump has become famous for railing on about "Fake News," the media have become quick to defend their integrity.  However, the depth of the media's lies is apparent and may be deeper than most imagine.

Let's start with what is probably one of the greatest cultural frauds in recent history, though it is mostly unknown today: Saturday Night Fever.

Many of us were roughly the same age as Tony Manero, the hero in the 1977 movie, when it came out.  The movie hijacked American culture for about two years, rocketing disco up the charts, until a Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979 put an end to genre almost overnight.

Three months before disco's demise, a Newsweek April 2, 1979 cover confidently proclaimed that disco had won the culture wars.  Rock 'n' roll was dead.  But a few months later, by the fall of 1979, disco was gone.  What happened?

What happened was that the disco culture was a house of cards.  The signature statement of that culture, Saturday Night Fever, was a total fraud.

The movie, and the disco fad, were based on an article, "Inside the Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," that appeared in New York Magazine in June 1976.

Over the past few months, much of my time has been spent in watching this new generation.  Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, from disco to disco, an explorer out of my depth, I have tried to learn the patterns, the old/new tribal rites.

The problem was that the story was mostly made up.

Twenty years later came a bombshell.  In December 1997 New York magazine published an article in which Cohn confessed that there never was a Vincent.  There was no "Lisa", "Billy", "John James", "Lorraine" or "Donna" either.  While 2001 Odyssey existed, it wasn't the way the writer described it in 1976.  The whole scene of disco-loving Italians, as mythologised in Saturday Night Fever, was exaggerated.  The most bizarre detail was that his disco protagonists were in fact based on mods Cohn had known in London.

So what? you might ask.

To those who remember, that fraud led to the glorification of a disco culture.  But it was never as organic as the media portrayed it.  It could be propped up for only so long.  In 1979, the straw man was easily toppled.

It seems that Nik Cohn, the magazine writer who penned the purported true story of a Brooklyn dancer named "Vincent"– the basis for Travolta's Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever – for New York magazine, admitted this week in New York that he made the whole thing up.

Up to that point, disco had existed, to be sure, but it was a sideline.  Occasionally, it could break through to the top, as with "The Hustle," but it never would have become the cultural imperative it became without media lies.  It was foisted on us.  Disco music often carried a homosexual message that would have killed its mainstream popularity had it been left to its own devices, as this 1979 skit from Saturday Night Live demonstrated in the show's parody of the overtly homosexually themed Village People.

I first met the Village Persons two years ago[.] ... Now, to introduce them from the perspective of a young person, who can enjoy their [The Village Persons] music without understanding its homosexual connotations[.]

Had the youth of the 1970s been told that this whole disco cultural wave was the exaggeration of a British writer, amplified by a "homosexual mafia" in the arts community, do you seriously think disco would have taken off to the extent it did?  Not in the 1970s!

That disco fell so fast in 1979 is evidence that it was artificial to begin with.

What is scary is that this admitted lie still holds a grip on the culture, especially in Brooklyn, where the image is still lauded, parodied, and beloved.  Well, good luck with Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where Tony Manero lived, ever regaining that faded glory.  The neighborhood is now heavily Muslim.

Of course, deceptive media have been the historic norm.

The Hollywood image of the Wild West, full of all-American white cowboys, was deceptive.  The West was heavily Hispanic, with a considerable number of blacks and immigrants.  White Americans were a bare majority in some places.  But that would not sell to movie audiences.

The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 was portrayed by the media as an insult to America.  In reality, the ship was British, and it was transporting weapons, which is why it sank so fast – the German torpedo hit a magazine.

It's not just the media.  Revisionist historians started rewriting the history of the Civil War around 1900, trying to exonerate the South, turning the Confederacy into a noble cause about states' rights.  But the fact is that a lot of the states that seceded listed the defense of slavery as their motivation.  As Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens put it:

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

After the war, no one wanted to admit that.  So history books got rewritten.  Hollywood purchased Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind to give us a great movie but terrible history.  Remember that it was the Democrats who supported slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and later Jim Crow.  Blacks have been fed lies about the Democratic Party ever since.

Trump's problem with "fake news" does not begin to scratch the surface.  The fault lies in ourselves.  People don't want the truth.

The ancient Greeks understood this when they asked, "What is Truth?"  The sad fact is, humans prefer comfortable lies.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America.

While Donald Trump has become famous for railing on about "Fake News," the media have become quick to defend their integrity.  However, the depth of the media's lies is apparent and may be deeper than most imagine.

Let's start with what is probably one of the greatest cultural frauds in recent history, though it is mostly unknown today: Saturday Night Fever.

Many of us were roughly the same age as Tony Manero, the hero in the 1977 movie, when it came out.  The movie hijacked American culture for about two years, rocketing disco up the charts, until a Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979 put an end to genre almost overnight.

Three months before disco's demise, a Newsweek April 2, 1979 cover confidently proclaimed that disco had won the culture wars.  Rock 'n' roll was dead.  But a few months later, by the fall of 1979, disco was gone.  What happened?

What happened was that the disco culture was a house of cards.  The signature statement of that culture, Saturday Night Fever, was a total fraud.

The movie, and the disco fad, were based on an article, "Inside the Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," that appeared in New York Magazine in June 1976.

Over the past few months, much of my time has been spent in watching this new generation.  Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, from disco to disco, an explorer out of my depth, I have tried to learn the patterns, the old/new tribal rites.

The problem was that the story was mostly made up.

Twenty years later came a bombshell.  In December 1997 New York magazine published an article in which Cohn confessed that there never was a Vincent.  There was no "Lisa", "Billy", "John James", "Lorraine" or "Donna" either.  While 2001 Odyssey existed, it wasn't the way the writer described it in 1976.  The whole scene of disco-loving Italians, as mythologised in Saturday Night Fever, was exaggerated.  The most bizarre detail was that his disco protagonists were in fact based on mods Cohn had known in London.

So what? you might ask.

To those who remember, that fraud led to the glorification of a disco culture.  But it was never as organic as the media portrayed it.  It could be propped up for only so long.  In 1979, the straw man was easily toppled.

It seems that Nik Cohn, the magazine writer who penned the purported true story of a Brooklyn dancer named "Vincent"– the basis for Travolta's Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever – for New York magazine, admitted this week in New York that he made the whole thing up.

Up to that point, disco had existed, to be sure, but it was a sideline.  Occasionally, it could break through to the top, as with "The Hustle," but it never would have become the cultural imperative it became without media lies.  It was foisted on us.  Disco music often carried a homosexual message that would have killed its mainstream popularity had it been left to its own devices, as this 1979 skit from Saturday Night Live demonstrated in the show's parody of the overtly homosexually themed Village People.

I first met the Village Persons two years ago[.] ... Now, to introduce them from the perspective of a young person, who can enjoy their [The Village Persons] music without understanding its homosexual connotations[.]

Had the youth of the 1970s been told that this whole disco cultural wave was the exaggeration of a British writer, amplified by a "homosexual mafia" in the arts community, do you seriously think disco would have taken off to the extent it did?  Not in the 1970s!

That disco fell so fast in 1979 is evidence that it was artificial to begin with.

What is scary is that this admitted lie still holds a grip on the culture, especially in Brooklyn, where the image is still lauded, parodied, and beloved.  Well, good luck with Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where Tony Manero lived, ever regaining that faded glory.  The neighborhood is now heavily Muslim.

Of course, deceptive media have been the historic norm.

The Hollywood image of the Wild West, full of all-American white cowboys, was deceptive.  The West was heavily Hispanic, with a considerable number of blacks and immigrants.  White Americans were a bare majority in some places.  But that would not sell to movie audiences.

The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 was portrayed by the media as an insult to America.  In reality, the ship was British, and it was transporting weapons, which is why it sank so fast – the German torpedo hit a magazine.

It's not just the media.  Revisionist historians started rewriting the history of the Civil War around 1900, trying to exonerate the South, turning the Confederacy into a noble cause about states' rights.  But the fact is that a lot of the states that seceded listed the defense of slavery as their motivation.  As Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens put it:

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

After the war, no one wanted to admit that.  So history books got rewritten.  Hollywood purchased Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind to give us a great movie but terrible history.  Remember that it was the Democrats who supported slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and later Jim Crow.  Blacks have been fed lies about the Democratic Party ever since.

Trump's problem with "fake news" does not begin to scratch the surface.  The fault lies in ourselves.  People don't want the truth.

The ancient Greeks understood this when they asked, "What is Truth?"  The sad fact is, humans prefer comfortable lies.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America.