My dad will start an argument with anyone at any given moment about the 80s. He’ll defend to the death its absurd fads as if they’re his own child. ‘Say what you want,’ he says, ‘but the [insert literally any pop culture subcategory] was the best when I was a teenager.’
A few quick Google searches revealed that good ole Dad isn’t alone in his opinion. The plethora of 80s-loving articles that I found are both impressive and concerning: Why Life Was Better in the 80s Than Today, Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 80s, the miscommunicated Why Sex is Better in Your 80s and my personal favourite, a slightly off topic thread that is nevertheless written by a self-proclaimed Gen X, I’m Tired of Millennials Hogging 90s Nostalgia.
We’re nearing the end of 2017 and, already, we have already been given or have been promised a truckload of 80s memorabilia, remakes, throwbacks and reimaginings. From the second season of Stranger Things being released later this year to chunky bangles (some of which have been invented to smuggle alcohol into music festivals), 2017 just can’t get enough of that 80’s vibe.
If you just look through the hairspray-tangled teased hair and lycra-clad legs, it’s easy to see why people love this decade. It was the birth of some of the best 90s rock bands (‘they’re technically still 80s’, says Dad), WWE Wrestling, The Bronze Age of Comic Books and filled with pop culture icons like Stephen King, Michael Jackson and Marty McFly.
This year’s adaptation of Stephen King’s IT is filled with physical memorabilia of the 80s, including the child-actors themselves. The similarities between Sophia Lillis, who plays IT’s Beverly, with a 1980s Molly Ringwald are so uncanny that the kids even joke about it in the film. And Nicholas Hamilton, who plays the film’s child-villain, looks and acts like a Stand By Me River Phoenix.
Australia is not exempt from this throwback: this November an 80s Mania concert is being held Australia wide with appearances from a handful of musicians who peaked in the 80s, including Go West and Taylor Dayne. Not exactly household names but it’s the thought, the principal of them having reached commercial success in the 80s, that counts.
Donald Trump, who appeared in Forbes in 1982 and broke his first billion in 1987, becoming President of the USA leads me to believe that it is solely our obsession with this time period that got him elected in the first place. It makes no sense – let’s peg it as nostalgia. Fun-loving, world destroying nostalgia.
It’s known that the past decades have begun to come back into the spotlight. In high school alone, I regret to admit that I dressed in styles that were dubbed ‘Emo’, reminiscent of the late 70s Goths and Punkers, and ‘Indie’, a fashion trend whose roots are imbedded in 60s and 70s Hippie culture. Simon Reynolds, writer of Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past states that this obsession with fashion and attitude modelled from the past is due to our decade’s newfound ability to look up any given moment or trend in history. And today, as predicted by W Magazine, we have chosen to look up and take from this particularly mind-boggling, oiled-up era.
In this cyclical melting pot of popular culture trends, it’s tough to say what exactly has caused this chapter of history to once again rear it’s fluorescent head. What we can surely say, though, is that the coming months of 2017 are going to be totally bitchin’. Just don’t call them Shirley.