Friends, an epidemic is sweeping our nation, threatening our moral fiber with false promises, cult of personality, and quirky catchphrases. No, I’m not talking about Sarah Palin. The circumstances are far more heinous than even she could present.
The great threat to us now is 80s nostalgia.
I am a child of the 80s. I had the bleached-blonde rattail, the multiple ear piercings, and the linebacker shoulder pads. With a delicate balance, my musical tastes switched between the grand despair of Morrissey, the lush mullet-covered tones of Joe Elliott, the war cries of Bono, and the multi-tracked harmonies of Steve Perry. I recited John Hughes film dialogue verbatim. I spent many nights watching MTV and “Night Tracks”, and even hosted a music video show of my own.
I voted for Reagan.
But enough already. While I loved dancing to The Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" back in the day, it doesn’t make me feel young to hear it while I shop for wheat grass and biodegradable compost bags. I don’t care that Baby made it out of the corner of “Dancing With the Stars.” I refuse to snake dozens of those rubber message wristbands up my arm like I’m trying to be an extra in Who’s That Girl?
When you hear “Breakin’ the Law” by Judas Priest followed by “Turn Up the Radio” by Autograph piped through a drug store canned music system, the situation is dire.
Before you get all cozy in your Flashdance off-the-shoulder sweatshirt to settle in for a marathon viewing of VH1’s “I Love the 80s” with a package of Jelly Belly candies and a Snapple, here are 10 reasons to consider an 80s detox.
1) Megastar charity songs. A “We Are the World” remake was released in 2010 to benefit Haiti disaster relief. We don’t need more spinoffs of this model. I can’t imagine downloading a version of “We Are All Clear Channel Radio Stars” featuring Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow, and Jason Mraz, for example.
2) Leggings and wide belts. I’m all for easy-to-wear clothing, but while leggings make your ankles look really small, at our age, honey, it’s probably not the ankles that need a size reduction. And the Heavyweight Champion gilded belts only look good on people without waists.
3) 80s films. True, the new Tron looks tré cool. But 2010 was riddled with 80s-themed remakes that didn’t need repeating, including Clash of the Titans, Karate Kid, Predator, A-Team, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Speaking of Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street is also in production. So is The Smurfs. I thought we had enough blue folk after Avatar, but obviously not. However, it’s quite possible that Justin Bieber would make a great Howard the Duck.
4) The hair. There are 80s-era rockers who think their current bleached-out straggly locks make them look cool. This is a shame. And Bret Michaels, you’re not fooling anyone with that skull bandana; remove the weave and embrace the bald. But civilians have no excuse to wear the business in the front and the party in the back. As Rick Springfield and I demonstrate below, there was a particular time when the mullet reigned supreme.
That was for about four months in 1984. Put down the mousse and move on.
5) Familiar advertising icons. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the major advertising players want to tug at your emotions by hoping you’ll recall with fondness your first beer funnel and pick up an extra set of towels while in Target. Because 1) that’s how many ad wonks think and 2) Target’s mascot Bullseye seems to be the great-great-granddog of Bud Light’s Spuds MacKensie. Just say no.
6) Tropical colors. Wall paint, accessories, kitchen gadgets, and clothing in shades of hot pink, teal, orange, and turquoise, only look good if macaws and palm trees surround you. Even though Mondo from Season 8 “Project Runway” designed with rad colors, and his clothes were totally awesome, he didn’t win, did he?
7) Synthesizers. While groups such as La Roux have had hits with synth-inspired tunes lately, the machine was best used to create sound effects for Space Invaders and Galaga.
8) Warrior and pirate wear. Nothing dates a decade more than fashion, which is why clothing shows up on our list again. In the 80s, the warrior and pirate looks made a rebellious statement against corporate yuppiedom. Today, when someone such as Rhianna plays in Grace Jones’ closet, it’s just out-of-date. However, when the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean comes out, that garb will be trendy again, and Adam Lambert won’t have to go it alone.
9) Big money. Once again, big money is evil. Only this time we’re grownups, our retirement funds are at stake, and it’s not funny. Interesting that Oliver Stone thought Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps would be the perfect post-recession entertainment.
10) 80s toys as movies. First, the Care Bears Movie. Then Transformers. Now possibly Rubik’s Cube. While the trend of making movies from toys, board games, and action figures isn’t new, this makes about as much sense as a "California Raisins" TV show. Oh, wait, that’s been done.
I promise the detox won’t be painful. We’ll simply flush your system with some GoGurt Yogurt, dress you in flannel, give you a Rachel cut, and let you play with Pokemon cards while listening to the Screaming Trees. Viva la 90s!
Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
11.29.10 @ 10:01a
Is it just me, or does anyone else think remakes and fashion re-runs suggest that the makers/designers are suffering more from lack of quality imagination than a desire for nostalgia? I can hear the planning meetings now:
"Gee, I just can't think of a new direction for the fall line."
"Hey--I know! Bring back leggings/wrestler belts/poet sleeves/pirate boots/Hulk shoulder pads (select one or more of the above). If the public fell for the 70s reruns, they'll fall for these!"
If they want to bring back a style, why not something truly tasteful...like Kate Hepburn's and Grace Kelly's classic styles?
katherine (aka clevertitania)
11.29.10 @ 10:01a
Lisa - Remember that only a woman with Grace Kelly's figure looked good in Grace Kelly's clothes. But you didn't have to look like Jennifer Beals' to pull off the bra trick.
I don't care what anyone says, if I still had my off-the-shoulder neon pink sweatshirt, I'd still wear it. But then again, if there's one thing movies like Pretty in Pink and Can't Buy Me Love taught us, it's to embrace your own personal weirdness. :)
11.29.10 @ 11:27a
Where's Adam Ant when you need him?
11.29.10 @ 11:27a
For the record, I would almost pay to hear "Turn Up the Radio" on a drugstore music system.
I do promise not to wear leggings or wide belts, though.
11.29.10 @ 9:42p
Honest to God, I heard that exact set in Walgreens not two weeks ago, and that's what inspired this column. Then, on Saturday, I heard "Breakin' the Law" in a sporting goods store. WTH?
LISA! Darling! Where HAVE you been?
I think Adam Lambert eerily resembles Adam Ant.
Katherine, I do happen to love hot neon pink. It's such a happy color.
11.29.10 @ 11:53p
Katherine--I was thinking of the classic tailoring, I suppose--rather than the wasp-wasted styles.
Tracy!! Buried in editing projects. My dreams these days are cast as InCopy files, complete with layout lines and composition notes.
Adam--I'm with you on the leggings and wide belts. I think both were designed by people watching stick insects on their window sills. They certainly weren't designed to be worn by those of us with hourglass figures, especially if the hourglasses have a little extra sand in them.
11.30.10 @ 11:35p
The shoulder pads were to balance out the rest of the body. :D
Y'all can't see it in the picture at left (because THE HAIR is blinding you!) but I'm wearing a sleek pastel striped jumpsuit that can only be described as Circus Tent Chic. Only in the 80s. Sheesh.
12.1.10 @ 9:24a
Shoulder pads--ugh! They're one of the banes of my existence, fashion-wise. I have broad, flat shoulders. I don't need the darn things, and yet clothing companies are still obsessed with them.
Who, in their right mind, really thinks women need shoulder pads in a tee shirt or winter robe (I kid you not!)????? If they'd stop designing for the light poles that pass as fashion models and design for a real body, perhaps we'd have something truly wearable and flattering...and shoulder pads would finally die a permanent death.
Tracy, I, too, had a pastel pin-striped jumpsuit in college. I think I wore it on one date. Very cute, but largely impractical for someone whose major necessitated proper attire for attending lab in a livestock barn.