Everyone wants to claim that the decade they grew up in was better then everyone else’s. We all are nostalgic about our youth, after all those are the years where we absorb almost everything that forms our adulthood. Each decade provides ideas and changes that shape the world. The decade of bad hair represented the birth of a shockingly high amount of what influences us today. Can that really be said of every decade? Can we survive without the internet, the personal computer (and all its iterations) and the cell phone? These all gained their commercial start and popularity in the eighties. Where would hip-hop, and alternative rock be without the decade that brought those art forms to the mainstream? The summer blockbuster and the teen movie were practically born in the 1980’s. Let’s face it, only those types of movies make the big bucks today. What other decade produced as many fashion trends as the eighties? Okay, so they were all bad and thankfully none exist today, but at least they were creative. In politics, the most important event of the last 40 years occurred in the eighties, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Do we have a new enemy that makes sports and entertainment as much fun?
We could list much more than what’s in this article, but let’s relive the decade that invented the video game (Pong excluded), via the giant popularity of two badly drawn protagonists running away from mushrooms (of all things), in order to save a princess.
10. The Enemies Of The West Made Sports and Entertainment More Fun
The biggest enemy of the west, the Soviet Union, reigned in our consciousness for four decades. Sure we had the arms race, as each country tried to create the next great weapon, but we also had the greatest sports events that generated the greatest amount of pride and rivalry we might ever see in international sports. The Soviet Empire was not only a military empire, but a statistically superior athletic empire, as well. Bringing them down even in fiction generated a rush of pride. When were the chants of USA!, USA! ever more meaningful? Would Rocky IV ever have been as popular if the enemy was not Ivan Drago? Would Rocky beating Al Qaeda’s boxing machine (if that existed) gain as much reaction? Can any sporting event generate as much pride in the West, as the Miracle on Ice in 1980? How can that possibly generate as much hype if it were not for the evil empire of the time.
See the final minute of the Miracle On Ice and see what for yourselves.
9. Every Type of Music Made It To The Top Of The Charts
What are we talking about? Look at the music of the past 5 years. Record sales are now dominated by pop music such as dance pop and electro-pop. All forms started in the eighties. As refined as the sound is today, even the early somewhat cheesy forms of electro-pop and synth pop produced great music. Think of the opening sound of When Doves Cry. Hip/Hop is also very popular now, once again popularized in the eighties. To a lesser extent alternative rock, heavy metal and electronic acts are still popular, all popularized in the eighties. So what was different back then? Artists with a conscience. Can there be a bigger band then U2 in the late eighties? Can charitable events like Live Aid generate as much money? New Wave (think Duran Duran). Punk was still popular. Gothic Rock. Songs with irony and wit. In what other decade would The Cure be popular in? Dark and depressed, sexual misfit, sex craved, general misfit, big hair, small hair, jock and popular girl. There was something great for everyone.
8. Getting Access To Adult Content Required A Lot Of Backbone
One of the advances that the Internet provided all teenage boys and people in general, is the elimination of all the stigma and hard work associated with getting adult content. Back then you’d be the hit of the party if you had p**n in your hands. Why? Think of all the trouble you went through to get a dirty magazine. It was a big step to find the content, covered in special packaging, and then the task of paying for it in front of the smiling cashier. Lots of stigma involved. Getting movies was even worse. Dirty movies were always in the back of the video store or in some special room. When you went to pay for it, the clerk had to take the video out and place it in a more discrete box. Let’s not get into walking into and sitting down in movie theaters that showed adult films. At least in some places you could always sneak into a 25 cent peep show hidden below an arcade if you really wanted to be discrete.
7. TV Was Free
So you didn’t pay the cable company any Monday, and there were generally only four channels worth watching, one of which was PBS. But it was free. Pay per view and HBO still existed for those with some spare change. But back then shows on free TV reigned supreme. All the great comedies, Cheers, The Cosby Show, Family Ties all free. Night Time Soaps like Dallas and Dynasty all free. You did have to sit through commercials though. Nowadays with the weak offerings of network TV, we feel compelled to get everything at a high price. Luckily streaming video is getting us closer to the days when TV was cheap.
6. Stephen Spielberg And Blockbuster Hits Made It To Mainstream, As Did Science Fiction
One might argue that blockbusters were born in the 1970’s with Star Wars, Jaws, Alien and The Godfather. It was in the eighties where big budget films, and Sci-Fi really started to make their mark. Stephen Spielberg became bigger then life and James Cameron started out with Terminator. Films started catering more to the young, where thinking films were replaced with films of pure entertainment and violence and people came to see them in droves. This was Harrison Ford’s decade with Indiana Jones , Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Fugitive. Sylvester Stallone continued his Rocky Saga, and introduced Rambo. Arnold Schwarzenegger made it big with Conan The Barbarian and Predator. Bruce Willis became John MacLean in Die Hard. Action heroes weren’t all muscle and violence, as even Micheal J. Fox became a hero in Back To The Future. Even Star Trek became popular in the eighties two decades after it failed commercially on TV.
5. The Greatest Number Of Movie Catch Phrases That Live On Today
Granted this decade is still young, and lists of popular movie quotes typically come once a decade is finished, but with all the blockbusters out there, can we really think of quotes that people repeat all the time from this decade? Here are just a few quotes from the last five years: “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.” (Hunger Games), “I am Groot” (Guardians of the Galaxy). Any other quote from this decade is quite long, thus not really catchy.
Here is a list from the 80’s: “Seize The Day” (Dead Poets Society), “ET Phone Home” (ET), “Go Ahead Make My Day” (Dirty Harry: Sudden Impact), “If You Build It, He Will Come” (Field of Dreams), “I’ll Be Back” (Terminator), “I’ll Have What She’s Having” (When Harry Met Sally), “Wax On Wax Off”, “Man Who Catch Fly With Stick Accomplish Anything” (Karate Kid). “Say Hello To My Little Friend” (ScarFace),”They’re Here” (Poltergeist), Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious.” Rumack: “I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.” (Airplane). “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” (Empire Strikes Back). See the difference? You get the picture.
4. The Arcade
The game console was also popularized in the eighties with Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers, popularizing the stay at home gaming units. But before the internet, how was a young kid going to brag about being the best, or at least one of the 10 best? The answer is the arcade. From humble beginnings like the addictive Tetris, PacMan and Arkanoid, to the action games that appeared by the end of the decade like Street Fighter and Tron. The games were so much simpler and still great fun without the extensive graphics. Video games at home are much cooler now. Yeah, but at least Arcades were a cheap way to get out with your friends and out of your parents’ basement or living room for a few hours of inexpensive fun. They also provided bragging rights in your local neighborhood that everyone could see and you didn’t have to be a couch potato.
3. Movies About Teenagers
What’s a teen flick? Movies centered around the special interests of teenagers. Rebellion, angst, Coming of Age, first love’s, etc. Every decade produced its share of teen flicks. The 70s had some of the greatest with Grease, Animal House and Meatballs. According to Wikipedia, the 80s produced approximately 76 such films, more than the previous four decades combined. As mentioned before, it is the decade that started placing the teen age consumer first. Think about all of the flicks still talked about today: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porky’s, The Goonies and Tom Cruise in his major breakthrough role, Risky Business. The young control Hollywood because of the eighties.
2. The Highest Number Of Outrageous Fashion Trends Of Any Decade
Thanks to the hair, even popular girls and guys could look just as bad as the average person. Imagine no one can possibly have the street cred to make fun of you! That’s awesome. Can any decade match the number of styles and creativity prevalent in the eighties? How did people think that these were cool? It will take three articles to explain all of the trends in the picture above, so we will just list all of the weird fashion trends. The Flock of Seagulls, The Mullet, The Side PonyTail, The Jheri Curl, The Crimp, The Rattail, The Big Bang, The Hair metal, Makeup on guys, Punk, Goth, Mohawk and all of its sub-forms, Fannie Packs, Leg Warmers, Neon, Big Hair, Parachute Pants, Shoulder Pads. The list goes on and on.
1. The Birth Years Of The Most Important Technology Used Today
Fifty-Six percent of Americans think that the PC had the biggest influence on our lives, while 27% feel it was the cell phone. Guess what? Children of the eighties were the first to grow up with a computer. Although quite expensive at the time, this was the decade when computers first appeared as teaching tools in schools. Cell phones weren’t exactly as portable as they are today, but there was no bigger symbol of wealth and power than owning a cell phone. By the end of the decade though, almost everyone was able to get one. In our time, is there any bigger revolution than the internet? It was first made public in the late 80s, after being used as a government defense tool. Other big inventions: The microwave and portable music players. These may have been improved over time, but in the three decades that have passed, has anything been invented that has had as great of an impact on our lives that is not based on the items invented in the eighties?
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