‘Swingtown’ and the Boomer Experience

Note: The following commentary contains information that may not be suitable for children.

CBS is nostalgic this summer for the good old days that never existed. The network’s summer series Swingtown examines the lives of three suburban couples in 1976 and their experiences with drugs and “swinging”-or, what was called then, “wife swapping.”

Before I go on, you must know that this is a commentary in which I express my outrage not only over the filth spewed out by the networks, but on the tragedy of the so-called sexual revolution.

Back to the summer TV series, Swingtown. As I just said, the show was portraying something that never existed. Sure, swinging and drug abuse were part and parcel of the sixties and seventies. But Swingtown would have you believe that swinging and drugs were not just “cool” and “fun,” but were also without consequences. The characters of Swingtown behave as if their openness to these experiences keeps their marriages fresh and healthy. Total rubbish.

As the New Republic points out, all of this is tied in with the theme of women’s liberation, rather than being shown for what it really is: the exploitation of women and the destruction of families. The New Republic sums up the appeal of Swingtown: “Think of it as a foxy summer fling-except, you know, without the real-life burden of gut-wrenching heartbreak and [disease].”

But such risk-free flings are only an illusion. Maybe Boomers like to look back at those care-free days before the AIDS virus. But even before AIDS, there were unwanted pregnancies, abortion, divorce, shattered families, broken hearts, and ruined lives. But don’t expect the producers of Swingtown to show you that, or to bring up the modern-day explosion of deadly sexually transmitted diseases — like HPV-related throat cancer — that can be traced all the way back to, yes, the sixties and seventies.

So why is CBS peddling such pathetic programming this summer? The answer is that sexual liberation has, since the Freudian era, been nothing less than a worldview — a vision of reforming human nature and creating a new society. It is a worldview that begins with the assumption that humans are, in the end, mere by-products of Darwinian evolution, and concludes that our identity is found by embracing and celebrating the biological and the natural and the instinctual.

Especially sexual instincts. The theory was that prudish values repressed us, so salvation comes by liberating our sexuality.

If this sounds overblown, listen to the words of Margaret Sanger, an early champion of birth control and eugenics. For her, the drama of history was a struggle to free humanity from biblical morality. “Through sex,” she wrote, “mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise.”

Swingtown is a pathetically empty and hollow trip down memory lane. But the memories are all fiction. No matter how the networks try to convince us otherwise, “free love” was never really free, and the consequences were real, long-lasting, and truly tragic.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage