I love the 80s. I love the music, movies, hair and fashions. It was just such a funky time. The 80’s were all about everything being new. Vinyl LP records were being replaced by CDs. VHS format video tapes won out over Beta format video tapes, the home PC was on the rise, home video games were starting to replace board games and video killed the radio star. Microwaves, VCR’s, new cable channels, portable phones, walkmen….just to name a few of the exciting things back then really enriched the culture and interaction among people but also revolutionized a lot of things.
The 80’s witnessed the rise of punk rock, new wave music, nerds, stoners, preppies and the very beginning of MTV which at that point actually did play music videos 24/7 instead of running reality shows on knocked up high school white teenage trash. There also seemed to be more movies that were based on high school and pop-culture than ever.
Trickle down was a big word in the 80s justifying some of Reagan’s worst policy decisions that haunt us until this day, but the real vibe of the 80’s was the ambition that trickled-down, not the money. Everyone and their mom wanted to be rich or a hero – Superman, The Greatest American Hero, Rambo, Arnold movies, Ghostbusters – to just name a few of the movies that were inspired by that generation. This ambition or desire to be more and the opportunity for a lot of people to be just that is evident all over the place in pop culture.
The movie The Secret of My Success comes to mind. A movie which is the epitome of the 80s mentality but in a more positive, go-getter, you-can-achieve-your-dreams-if-you-work-hard kind of way as opposed to the more cynical view seen in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.
My most favorite part of the 80s is the movies, especially those high school movies that always seemed to be about a group of normal kids or nerds or an unpopular bunch, fighting against the injustices of the high school clique system and the popular kids and the snobs who thought they were better. Teenage angst was a big part of the stories, especially exemplified in many John Hughes productions such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink, but also Can’t Buy Me Love or Secret Admirer. There was a great sense of need for justice and these movies, which often times idolized the school years, were all over the place. Movies today seem too dark and too serious and as Roger Ebert said, “we live in an age of brutal manners, when people crudely say exactly what they mean, comedy is based on insult, tributes are roasts, and loud public obscenity passes without notice.”
There is so much more to be said about the 80s and how it changed the American landscape but suffice it to say that as a decade it was a very cool and exiting one, especially in terms of the pop culture it created and ideas that emerged. The end of the cold war at its tail end also eally made this decade a one of a kind. The 90s and 2000s were the information age and life, as we know it, changed drastically as a result, especially of the internet.
But here is one to good old times (and i feel sad to be calling the 80s good OLD times).
Here are some of my favorite 80s movies, and with that I don’t mean movies made in the 80s but movies that evoke that feeling of funk and punk and teenage angst and self assertion.