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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Were the 80s that bad???

My esteemed colleague Doc S wrote a nice piece last week reminiscing about what he deems the glory years, the 1970s.  His defense/argument in favor of Spielberg, Alan Alda, Jack Nicholson, Popeye Doyle and Al Pacino can be found here:  Adult Child of the 70s.

It's a compelling case, but one that lacks any sort of objectivity.  And that is not to say the opinion is wrong.  Give me a decade over the past 50 years and 5 minutes and I can sell it as the best decade ever.  VH1 probably has a show on it.

 I love the 50s...  You bet I do!!  Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, tailored suits, James Dean amd John Wayne.  The American Dream personified.  A middle class.  Industry.  Values.  Homemade meals.

60s...  JFK, The Beatles and The Stones, MLK, Mickey Mantle, Woodstock, and Hair.  Men on the moon.  Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath.  Equal rights.  Big ideas.  Big plans.  Tremendous optimism.

The 70s, as detailed last week, are more than strong.  Who doesn't love a good car chase and the a stadium rock show??  Bell bottoms and thick mustaches are pretty bad ass too.   Grooming be damned!!!  Let there be denim!!!

But what of the 80s?  They saw the advent of Aids and cassette tapes.  The cold war ended and Reagan-omics began.  Black Michael Jackson, New Coke, hairbands and Members Only jackets.  A joke?  Or something more?  Maybe the 80s are an underrated treasure worth a second look?  Think their disapproving older peers will give it a second look?  Wait, let them get their readers first.

Accordingly, my 1980s compass tells me the following:

Lifestyle/Clothes and Fashion-  Try to look at your high school senior yearbook photo without snickering.  Big, teased and colored hair stood several inches in the air.  The girls too.  Had the 80s gone too far?  Boy George made Ziggy Stardust look like Jack Webb.  Madonna became known more for her exploits than her singing.  We were told to be individuals.  Act yourself and be proud of it.  How else can you explain cuffing your khakis, pleated pants and Z Cavarecci's?  It was a blatant F U to all those folks telling us to conform.  We want our MTV.  Our MTV says look like a crackhead from the Gap.  Clearly the "Just Say No" did not apply to commercial excess.  Big, we were told, is better.  Greed, you will remember, was good.

Politics-  It was all Reagan, all the time.  Smoke and mirrors and a false sense of security.  In other words, just about every era in modern civilization.  Let's face it, we are always one bad act or actor away from complete meltdown.  50s could have gone much differently had we lost WW2.  60s were a bad conversation away from nuclear war.  The 70s was most uncertain/volatile as Vietnam and Watergate suggest.

The 80s led off with hostages and Iran and finished with the prelude to Gulf War 1.  We got rich and made plenty of folks pissed along the way.  That greed we ended up chasing put us in over our heads with creditors.  It put added burdens on us all.  It took away our leisurely weekends and further emphasized the two family income.  The Keatons and Cosby's gave us the blueprint for navigating this new world.   Things were going to get a little bumpy.   Work was going to be more difficult and time consuming.  But damnit there were going to be some laughs along the way.  The more you put in the more you get out.  "We are the World/We are The Children/We are the Ones who make a brighter day/So Let's start giving."

Role Models:  Thugs like Mickey Rourke were getting the likes of Kim Basinger.  Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Anthony Michael Hall, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams were leading men.  A scarier/dorkier crew I dare you to find!  Eddie Murphy revolutionized comedy.  Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (revered for their 1970s work) give arguably their finest performances (Raging Bull and Scarface.)   Ok, Scarface is a stretch.  But it is by far his campiest role.  I refuse to acknowledge his recent role in the dismal Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill.  Let's not forget the athletes either.  Lawrence Taylor, Hagler and Hearns.  Sugar Ray Leonard and Steve Largent.  Jose Cruz and Jack Sikma.  Stretching again, aren't I?  Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Bono, Bob Geldof, Axl Rose, Public Enemy, and Martha Quinn and David Letterman,  spoke of free choice, free thinking and service (along with all out partying!!!)

They were a flawed group for sure.  But that was the beauty of it.   They were all left of center but we could all understand it.  Cyndi Lauper found herself co-existing with Madonna.  Today we see that in Beyonce and Lady Gaga.  Artists teaming up and performing with others is more common than actual solo tracks these days.  Where do you think these collaborations are coming from?  The 70s?  Please.  Those guys couldn't stand to be together.  I'm talking to you Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.  The groundwork might have been laid out from the decades prior, but the 80s began to put philosophy to action.  Gay rights were moved along a little bit further.  Racial acceptance was getting a little easier throughout the country.  

"If you build it they will come."

And when the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down in late 1989 there was a shared optimism.  Global commerce.  Bigger and better!!  Collective efforts to combat the effects and raise awareness regarding man's insistence on destroying the Earth's ecosystems.

Real Hope.  Real Change!

Now what the hell did those kids from 1990 on do???


Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke

The Original Right Round

Eddie Murphy... love his white person voice   NSFW

Vacation Opening Titles

Kirk Gibson in 1988... I don't believe what I just saw

1 comment:

  1. you always did love the Seattle sports teams! Sikma and Largent. I thought you liked Whodini. What happened?