'textbook definition of surrealism'
In his epic new bio of James Brown, "The One
"--an account of not just the man's life and music, but a panoramic view of African-American, southern and American political and cultural history of the 20th Century--author R.J. Smith briefly discusses "Future Shock," a dance show that Brown hosted in the mid-1970s. It aired on a pioneering Atlanta station, WTCG, a Ted Turner-owned UHF station that would become a satellite channel by the end of 1976. Along with the pay-only HBO (started in '75 in select markets), WTCG paved the way for a cable TV revolution. Its name would be changed to WTBS
(otherwise known as Superstation WTBS) in 1979.
According to Smith, Brown's idea was to syndicate "Future Shock" to American and then African audiences, with the idea that it could serve as a forum for black people to be themselves. "He saw it as building on 'Soul Train,'" the author writes, "which it sort of did, in the way that John Wilkes Booth built on Abraham Lincoln."
Sadly, you can't find any episodes, or even a representative collection of clips, anywhere on high-quality video. You can, however, find a decent-enough, 25-minute selection of clips at Vimeo
and a WFMU blog
entry from 2008, where people in comments claim to have been dance contest entrants and show participants. The most eye-opening material comes around 5:30 in both videos, where the show's dance contest begins. There, you see the blueprint or beginnings of a coming decade of street/hip-hop dance innovations. An entire episode is posted at WFMU's Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban blog.
An ad for "Future Shock" T-shirts
can also be found at YouTube.
At the former of the WFMU blogs linked, a commenter says of the dance contest: "Man, the dance contest footage is the textbook definition of surrealism. Not literally, of course, but if you were to film a movie set in the 1970s that incorporated footage like that, you would likely be accused of extreme exaggeration."