The 1980s are a decade which are fondly remembered by people who didn’t even experience them. Everyone wants to remember a time, that they never really lived through. This is down to what’s known as the 20 year cycle. In the 1970s, everyone was obsessed with the 1950s, and so came movies like Grease and American Graffiti. Likewise in the 1990s, the presence of the 1970s pop culture was huge, like in That 70s Show. The difference here is that the 1980s wave has lasted longer than the 20 year cycle we’re used to. We’re still very much on that 1980s technicolour vibe.
The 1980s are famous for a lot of things. Poppy music, wacky fashion, new political culture, innovation and film. It was the era of Pac Man and The Rubiks Cube. Legwarmers and perms. Synth pop and spandex.
We get this nostalgic feeling when we listen to the synthesised piano and feel good lyrics that come in the package of 1980s music. Whether true or not, the 1980s are perceived by millennials as a time in history where being individual was glorified. Artists like Prince, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper could be who they wanted to be. You could show your True Colours, no questions asked.
The 1980s also produced the first ever music video. Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles was released on August 1st 1981. This inspired another iconic 1980s band, Duran Duran to make a music video for their single Rio, and boy did they make one. Tropical beaches, yachts, neon clothes, the whole shebang. The epitome of the 1980s.
Television and film have been thoroughly influenced by the 1980s and everything they represent. Their movies followed a feel good, best friend, adventure orientated story line. They were simpler times. Films like E.T, Back To The Future and The Breakfast Club all giving us 90s kids that nostalgic feeling, even though we hadn’t even been born yet.
Stranger Things, Sex Education and even Derry Girls are all set in the 1980s, or have that 1980s feel. Even Black Mirror has gotten on that 1980s bandwagon with their most viewed episode San Junipero being set in 1987.
Fashion trends come and go, but the 1980s have made a significant comeback, but this time without the neon legwarmers. Mom jeans, baggy jumpers and Dr Martins have become cool again. Big hair, big shoulder pads and big hoops, they’re all back. Millennials are stealing their parents clothes out of the attic. If it looks like you stole it from your parents wardrobe, then it’s labelled vintage in 2019.
The 1980s were an iconic era, not only for pop culture but for politics. The American Government was under the control of the former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan. He promised big tax cuts and a smaller government. This was often challenged by musicians and ‘celebrities’. MTV became a forum for people who went against the grain. Even as Reagan ran the country and maintained popularity, pop culture continued to be an arena for debate and dissatisfaction in society throughout the 1980s.
As “Reagonomics” reigned in the US, Ireland had its own political issues throughout the 1980s which are depicted in a very poignant way in the Season 1 finale of Derry Girls with the news report of the Omagh Bombing playing on the television, as Dreams by The Cranberries echoes in the background.
The 1980s were a time of self-expression and freedom: simpler times. This is the reason people want to remember it. People want to relate to a time where they weren’t all glued to their smart phones. Instead, they want to reminisce on a time when they would have been bopping along to George Michael on Walkmans.
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