The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 5th

Pop Culture Parties Like It's 1989

This quote, taken from a marvelous little movie by Paul Thomas Anderson called "Magnolia," kept popping into my head as I listened to the newest radio station to emerge in my hometown: a 24-hour all-'80s music leviathan of


How is it that we just barely get the 1990s behind us, and now suddenly the not-too-distant prior decade has become hip? From music and clothes to movies and attitude, the years that spawned Spadau Ballet and "Silver Spoons" have seeped into our next generation's septic tank of pop culture.

OK, the trend that includes wearing slap bracelets and torn sweatshirts (a la "Flashdance") did not totally take us by surprise. After thousands of years of humankind, originality has gone the way of Hypercolor shirts. Americans love to dig up the past, especially the '80s. It started relatively early, almost as soon as we turned the calendar year to 1990, and has not slowed down since.

Music has been the biggest culprit of not letting Americans let go of the past. Hell, VH1 forbids you to forget the '80s. "Behind the Music" and "Before They Were ... " make singers like Leif Garrett and bands like Steppenwolf more accessible to impressionable young viewers than their parents when they were teens at the time. Not that it's a bad thing ... but how long can Garrett last?

TV heralds the umpteenth collection of hits (including those from Wham and Tears for Fears) from the '80s which have been assembled for your listening pleasure (errr ... discomfort). But seriously, music back then was not so bad. I cringe at the fact that our music today lacks of originality so much that we either have the choice of "oldies" from the '80s, the latest N*Sync song, or the latest carbon-copy mailed-in release from the Cash Money Millionaires.

Fashion is the last trend that I ever notice. Leave that to the stylish. But every time I go home, my mother/sister/aunt claims that something is going back into style, which translated means that I have something very old in my closet that I can now wear again with little to no embarrassment.

Just thinking back to elementary school, when your mom bought your clothers, gives me an overwhelming sense of fright and joy. On one hand, I was always clothed (even though streaking was an insanely common occurrence in a male-dominated household). Consequently, my mother never went to school with me to see how "behind the times" I actually was. Thick skin is grown at a young age, and I was the main one suffocating.

But, with a smile on my face and a glint in my eye, I welcome all '80s movies with open arms. Recent films such as "The Wedding Singer" and "American Psycho" were wonderful reminders of how funny our culture was back then, even though the latter did include ritual killings. Movies made during my elementary school years seemed to be less about money and more about making my grandparents laugh. It worked and I laughed because of it.

With the looming Hollywood strike that will surely be affecting all that comes to our local multiplexes, I challenge every studio to dig deep into their collective vaults of celluloid and bring to us the finest morsels of '80s you have to offer.

Bring us "The Goonies" and "Sixteen Candles" with improved and reworked prints. Unleash the fury of "Back to the Future" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" in DTS (otherwise referred to by a close friend as Damn Tight Sound). It worked for "The Exorcist" and those George Lucas sci-fi flicks. Trust me, do it and peeps such as I will line up with money in hand. Screw the new blockbusters.

Attitude is what ultimately defines a decade. The '80s were years soaked in attitude. Everyone had it, even Michael Jackson, who thought he was bad and told people to beat it. The '80s reared Generation X, a certain group that we, as college students, either are grouped into or share many values and sensibilities with. Young children have begun to discover the lost decade of the 1980s through the wonderful invention of cable TV. They like it and we need to come to grips with the fact that it isn't going away. Peace out, word to your mother.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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