I remember when Mtv was really “Music Television” and not reality television shows. A recent article by USA Today writer Natalie DiBlasio made me think of this. Below is Natalie’s story.
Everyone loves the ’80s — even those who didn’t live through it.
From the bad hair and loud clothing to the politicians and leaders — a new survey shows that three-quarters of Americans believe the country was better off in the ’80s than now.
“The ’80s is the first time when we were exposed to the kind of mass media immersion that we now take for granted — we were a blank slate,” said David Sirota, author of Back to Our Future. “The ’80s is the first time cultural messages were able to be sent in ubiquitous and powerful ways and to be repeated over and over and over again.”
So what defined the beloved ’80s?
Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Cabbage Patch Kids, Rubik’s Cubes, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Reese’s Pieces and dance moves like the Robot and Moonwalk.
As for the decade’s most significant moment, about 37% of those surveyed listed the fall of the Berlin Wall, 24% said the identification of AIDS, and 17% said the Challenger explosion.
When asked if a presidential election were held today, 58% said they would vote for Reagan over Barack Obama.
The online survey of 1,000 adults by Kelton Research for National Geographic Channel also found that Back to the Future was the ’80s’ defining film.
“There is a natural inclination to idealize and love things that remind you of your childhood,” Sirota says. “People remember things fondly from their childhood because it was a simpler time, you weren’t filling out IRS forms.”
But it was more than major events and wacky outfits that defined the decade; technological developments made in the ’80s have undoubtedly shaped the world we live in today.
More than half of the nation thinks that the personal computer has had the biggest impact on American life today with the cellphone coming in at 27%. The microwave, Walkman and VCR all ranked around 5%.
Other survey findings include:
• Michael Jackson was named by 60% of Americans as the musician from the ’80s with the greatest influence on today’s musicians.
• Close to half of the nation, 46%, believes that the naming of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court was a more important ’80s milestone for women than Sally Ride going to space, 36%.
Americans don’t miss everything about the ’80s. Survey respondents said they hoped shoulder pads, parachute pants, fanny packs and neon clothing never make a comeback. However, more than half of Americans say they miss leg warmers.
“There is something that stands out about the ’80s that is a novelty,” Sirota says. “It’s something that’s still kitschy. It’s distinct in a different way than any of the other decades before it.”
Sirota adds: “We are still living in the ’80s. We are still telling ourselves the same stories about who we are, what our country is and we are still creating the same mythologies that we first developed in that decade.”