It seems like yesterday we were chanting “bring back the 90s!” Now there’s another decade we can’t get over: the 1980s. It was a decade full of films about coming of age (Goonies), challenging societal conventions through dance (Dirty Dancing), and fantastical journeys (The Neverending Story). The ‘80s have slowly been making a comeback, one that has gotten stronger in recent years with the release of sequels like Star Wars and Terminator or even shows that pay homage to the decade, such as Netflix’s Stranger Things or ABC’s The Goldbergs. Even ‘80s fashion is making a comeback with teenagers calling themselves “VSCO girls” as they dress in scrunchies, oversized tees, and Vans.
This uptick in ‘80s nostalgia is most likely because people who grew up during that time are now the ones creating films, music and fashion. Another reason is that nostalgic acts like rewatching favorite shows and movies (even if it’s a remake) can be a therapeutic and restorative process, one that can bring up happier memories or create a sense of belonging.
As we come to the end of 2019, here’s hoping this trip down memory lane offers you just that, a sense of peace and belonging as we welcome a happy new year.
• People went crazier for Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 1980s than they ever did for Beanie Babies in the 1990s.
• Tom Cruise slid across the hardwood floor with no pants on in Risky Business or who can forget when Darth Vader said “I am your father”? Though we did forget he never said “Luke”.
• A T.V. show about a hero using unconventional means to solve problems gave birth to a new verb: macgyver. Also an example of a show that’s seen a reboot in recent years.
• You participated in trends better left forgotten: big hair (for both men and women), mullets, crimping, acid-washed jeans, leg warmers with leotards, dressing like a Miami Vice detective or like Madonna…the list goes on!
• The Mets won the World Series in 1986.
• A Wendy’s commercial had the catchiest line with an elderly lady asking: “Where’s the beef?”
• You may have gotten for Hanukkah: Transformers, Care Bears, Rubik’s cubes, Swatch watches, or a BMX bike?
Then versus Now:
• The biggest question that needed answering: “Who shot J.R.?” in Dallas versus “Who will win the Iron Throne?” in Game of Thrones.
• Gymnastics: Mary Lou Retton winning the gold medal in the summer Olympics of 1984 versus Simone Biles winning the most championship medals (plus having a few moves named after her).
• History-making performances: Live Aid (1985) with stars like Queen, U2, or Mick Jagger performing with Tina Turner versus Beyonce headlining at 2018’s Coachella.
• Catchy songs: Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” (1982) versus Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” (2012).
• Lastly, we can’t forget the Jews of the ‘80s: Steven Spielberg, director of E.T. and many other iconic films; Barbara Streisand in Yentl; Rhea Perlman in Cheers; Dee Snyder from the glam metal band, Twisted Sister; Punky Brewster’s Soleil Moon Frye (whose mother and husband are Jewish); comedian and actor, Billy Crystal; and also the decade that brought us Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Now that the 2010s are coming to an end, it’s hard not to wonder what will we miss 20, 30 years from now
For now, here’s a longer trip down memory lane with the help of fellow tribesman Ben Giroux and his latest music video called “Back to the 80s”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCfBauk2NwU.
DVORAH LEWIS IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.