You don’t have to have been born in the ’80s (or prior) to know of the time period, but it does help. The music, the movies, the fashion– all iconic things that have come and gone, or returned again in the case of certain fashion styles. Of course there are many defining features to the ’80s besides those, but they are what everyone remembers most and what we can still experience today. Much of what was popular back then holds over to today’s time and while only being simply interesting to some, it harbors a sense of nostalgia in others.
I myself, too young to have enjoyed the majority of the ’80s, learned about the time period through my mother. I knew the music because she loved to listen to it, I knew the movies because she loved to watch them, and I knew about the fashion and hairstyles because she wore them. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve movies and music from the ’80s. I was born in ’87 so by the time I was old enough to understand everything it was already the beginning of a new decade. It’s for that reason that I associate myself as a child of the ’90s, with heavy ’80s influences. Many other people my age would probably agree.
At that time in my life, we were living in Berlin, Germany–my father was stationed there with the US Army. So any American TV show was aired much later than it did in the US. Shows that had found their end in the ’80s were still brand new overseas. I spent the first five years of my live watching just about every ’80s cartoon you could think of: Hem-man & She-ra, Care Bears, Gummi Bears, Bravestar, Ghostbusters, GI Joe, Transformers. My father would record some of them for me along with movies (cartoon and regular). I would be with a babysitter during the day, usually a neighbor while my mom worked and dad was off doing Army stuff.
Since it was usually a neighborhood stay-at-home mom who would watch me, there was often TV watching–in between playing outside and failing at being a ballerina (I just wanted to color, it’s a long story). There was also a tricycle, a black and yellow Batman tricycle which belonged to a boy I knew. I really liked that tricycle, but I digress. The point I’m making is: there was regular exposure to what I still consider to be the best cartoons ever (aside from the classic Looney Toons and Hanna Barbera). They just don’t make TV like that anymore.
The same is true for the movies of the ’80s. The romantic comedies, regular comedies, scary movies that are still fun to watch now, with their unmistakable soundtracks: Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Sleepless in Seattle, City Slickers, Princess Bride, Romancing the Stone, St. Elmo’s Fire, Top Gun, Ghostbusters, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Gremlins–the list goes on and on. I’ve lost count how many movies I have re-watched over and over and they still hold up to being just as good and entertaining as they were 30 or more years ago. To stand the test of time truly shows a quality that is often unmatched by movies of today.
Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams, Police, Genesis–all made fantastic music in the ’80s. Tina Turner’s power house voice singing: Private Dancer, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Let’s Stay Together, We Don’t Need Another Hero. Rod Stewart’s Vagabond Heart Album: Rhythm of My Heart, The Motown Song, Broken Arrow–specifically The Motown Song. I used to listen to that song with my mom, along with the rest, in the CD player and cranked up. We would put it on repeat and sing along until we got tired of it. It was great. My mom had excellent taste in music, she still does. The fantastic thing, all this music can still be heard today. Either on an oldies radio station, CD, or online and I can relive those happy memories whenever I like.
It’s the ability that these things of the ’80s have, of gripping tight to our hearts and minds that make them so special. They shaped an entire generation and continue to influence younger ones.