Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Things I'd Like Millennials to Know About the 80s

I can remember looking through my sister's yearbook and laughing. My sister graduated in 1977. This was the 80s, and I was totally mortified by the long, straight, hippie hair everyone had.
"Just wait," she said. "Some time folks are going to look back at your 80s styles and laugh."
"Never gonna happen," I said.
After all, how could you NOT love the 80s: Neon. Hair teased to heaven. Parachute pants. These things would be trendy forever, right?
Okay, I stand corrected.
Each year, college professors are given a list that lets them know about the world of incoming freshman. The point is that not all of the students are going to get cultural references. After all, this is a generation that has ALWAYS had computers, and never remembers a time when Bill Gates was not the richest man in America.
Stirrup pants aside, honesty though, there are some things I'd like Millennials (such as my niece) to know about the 80s:

1. First and foremost ---and I think this is pretty darn cool-- I remember when things were transitioning to using the computers as a regular part of a classroom. No, incoming college freshmen weren't required to have computers, but there was always a computer lab in each dorm. I remember in 7th grade, so fascinated by the first Apple IIe . Of course, in 7th grade, all I did was this program that moved a mouse around a maze to get cheese, seeing this transition was cool.

So, 80s folks are not amazed by the new technology---we are amazed that the new technology doesn't doesn't $8,000 grand a pop. 

2. We were absolutely convinced that, at some point, the Russians were going to nuke us all to Kingdom Come. Just watch Fox's "The Americans" if you don't believe me. 
One of the things that blows me away is that my niece (born 1996) HAS NO CONCEPT OF THE COLD WAR. It was starting to warm up a bit in the 80s.

3. Yes, esp. looking back at the movies of that decade, we had some cringe-worthy lack of political correctness. And yet, for the most part, in my community, everyone still got along. 

4. We all remember where we were during the Challenger disaster.

5. Teachers put the fear of God into us that by 1990 the U.S. was HONEST TO GOD going to be on the METRIC system. 

6. What Lady Gaga is doing now, Madonna did back then. And with male dancers. In cone bras.

7. Our music was better. Sorry. It just was. 

 8. I clearly remember seeing my first cell phone. A friend's dad had one for business and we were carpooling and he let me use it to call Mom. It cost like a gazillion dollars a minute. I thought I was so cool.

9. Republicans and Democrats still threw bricks at each other, but it was almost tame compared to the   level of things now. There was a lot of voter apathy in the 80s (I remember doing a speech about it for a class assignment). Now it seems folks are gearing up to vote a whole year before the election. People were passionate about politics but they weren't bonkers over it.

10. Millennials   will never know the sheer joy of wearing parachute pants.  Sorry. I pity you.

11. Yes, we really did wear neon and parachute pants and HUGE glasses and "jams"  and yes, we really did think it looked great. And while I confess that pictures of me from way back when make me think "what was I thinking?" I always get a bit sentimental when I watch "Halt and Catch Fire" on AMC.

12. Our high school had a special session where teachers taught us about AIDS and how it was spread. I'm not sure if this was a state thing or CDC or health department thing. The "press" over AIDS was like the coverage of breast cancer now. It was a big scare and teachers were trying to eliminate a lot of confusion over how it was spread. 

13. We loved computers, but movies like "Wargames" and "Tron" gave us a healthy dose of skepticism. If the Terminator worldview has taught us anything, we know that all machines eventually become self aware and enslave us all. Hey, hear us now and believe us later.

14. The first floppy disks for Mac computers sometimes got stuck in the drive, and you had to uncurl a paperclip and stick it in this hole to trigger a spring to pop it out. 

15. The suckiest printer of 2015 is gold compared to the best dot matrix printer of the 80s.  We used to link different sheets together to make banners. 

16. Millennials: You don't remember the joy of reading the new "Calvin and Hobbs" cartoons. I had college friends who got a newspaper only to read that comic.

17: Flying was not common. I mean, people did it, just not on the level they do today. And airport security was, of course, nothing like it is today. I think that was the last time I actually enjoyed flying on a plane.

18:  Atari video games required a good bit of viewer imagination to make them work. And we were fine with that. 
 
19: I remember watching Michael Jackson (when he was black) doing the moonwalk at the American music awards. Mom rarely let me stay up so late when I had school the next day, but she had a feeling this would be like my generation's Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Of course, now everyone has seen the moonwalk, but when you saw it, for the first time on TV, it looked like this dude was defying the laws of physics. I remember thinking "how is that happening?" Of course, I shortly got out my penny loafers and learned how to do it myself.

20. I think this is one thing that really makes me pause: not only will my Millennial niece not understand the Cold War, she will NEVER remember a time of EAST and WEST Germany.  I was in college (in the 90s) when the wall came down. I was blown away. It was something I never thought would happen.

In closing, I'd like to leave this AWESOME poster by Stephen Wildish. It's an 80s movies alphabet.
See how many you can name and check out the answers and his awesome cool stuff here http://www.stephenwildish.co.uk/images/Film_Alphabet_Answers.pdf

So, what do YOU want Millennials to know about the 80s?
 

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