For people who grew up in the 1980s, it is hard to escape the sense that they are viewed by many as an aberration in history. Arriving off the back of the 70s, with unmistakable icons such as David Bowie and Debbie Harry to follow, the 80s are often portrayed in modern popular culture as having offered nothing more memorable than the skinny tie and the keytar. When they were followed by the notably more earnest 1990s, the penultimate decade of the 20th century often struggles not to be seen as a plastic, disposable and ultimately forgettable island.
If you are someone who grew up in that decade, then it’s nothing but natural to feel at least a little defensive of those times. Fortunately, there are pockets of encouragement – even forty years on – that show the 1980s are remembered with fondness by most.
1980s music is surprisingly influential
For many people, the 1980s stood out as a period when shallowness was at an all-time high. After the angrily authentic “Disco Sucks” movement of the 70s and its insistence on realness, the common perception was that 80s music wouldn’t stand the test of time. That’s proven to be woefully short-sighted. We’re now in the 2020s, and era-defining artists like Dua Lipa are calling back to a decade that ended years before they were born. The 80s have a long cultural tail, and an influence that can be heard in Kpop, as well as lovingly referenced in TV smash hits like Stranger Things.
They were the first decade to take kids seriously
While there has to be great care taken with marketing to children, the 1980s were in many ways the first decade where it seemed to matter to anyone what kids thought. This meant an explosion in TV and cultural trends aimed at kids. Today, the kids of the 80s are parents who pass those influences on to their own kids. Driven in part by the growing nostalgia, the 80s are a great decade for anyone who wants to set up a physical address, buy some padded envelopes, and start a business selling cultural ephemera.
The decade had a social conscience
One reason people cast a side-eye at the 1980s is the “greed is good” mantra which is depicted in much of the era’s art, with a prime example being Wall Street, from which the mantra is taken. But this passes over the fact that Wall Street was a satire, always intended to draw attention to the rapaciousness of the markets. In actual fact, the 80s saw an increase in focus on big issues, with particular emphasis on the environment. As we reach a pivotal point in the future of our planet, the kids of the 1980s who have become the adults of 2020 have their moment to make sure the issue is not forgotten.
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