Why We Can’t Get Enough of the ’80s

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Within the span of a few weeks in Summer of 2010, Hollywood gave us movies by the name of The A-Team and The Karate Kid wrapped around a 7-game NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. I posted to Facebook “I’m going to miss the 80s when the Summer is over!”

Oh, 1980s. We love you so much. We love you so much that we’ve never truly let you go.

The meteoric rise of the TV Show Stranger Things has proven this true. Don’t worry; this isn’t another article about the show. It’s just to say that for all the hoopla, one recurring theme you hear fans talk about is the nonstop ’80s references. For people like me, who love the ’80s, it is absolutely part of the appeal. Even Will’s bowl haircut.

But Stranger Things isn’t even close to alone on this. As people my age have begun to become producers in Hollywood, the love for the decade has become common. There are so many 80s references in Psych I cannot even count them or catch all of them. But there’s no mistaking why Ralph Macchio has a guest spot on the show or why Shawn once said “ding ding” to Carl Weathers.

I have often and loudly proclaimed the ’80s as the best decade for just about everything. It was, in a phrase of the times, rad. Here is why:

 

The Music

I’ll brawl to the death over this one. The only time I have ever felt cool in the history of my life was in second grade riding in the back of my brother Tracy’s T-top Mustang on the way to school, listening to “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straights. And “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. And “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

Does life get any better? I submit that it does not!

I grew up dreaming about the day I would dance with my wife to “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon and “Lost In Your Eyes” by Debbi Gibson. And you better believe I fulfilled this dream with Kayla in 2014. I can take you to the exact spot in Walker-Gamble Elementary when I first heard “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” by Poison. And who among us doesn’t automatically feel like dancing without inhibition when we hear “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or singing in unison with a huge group of people during “Come On Eileen”?

Some of my favorite memories ever are being at karaoke hearing Josh Crowe sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Or singing “You Spin Me Right Round” at the top of my lungs at 9 years old without an ounce of self-consciousness. And to go all Hebrews 11 on you, What more can I say? Time doesn’t permit to tell you about Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, U2, Prince and Guns N’ Roses.

I’m positive in a Top 100 song decade vs. decade battle, the ’80s would annihilate the competition. And if you still doubt that I offer up the following as a mic drop:

 

 

and

 

 

Television

I’ll be honest: in any list of my favorite shows of all-time, the #1 show (Seinfeld) is from the ’90s and most of the rest of the Top 10 will be from this century. Yet despite this, back then we still had no shortage of shows that were perfect for that time. Family Ties, Who’s the Boss?, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show and even lesser known shows like ALF (I had the lunchbox in 4th grade) and 227 (with Hal Williams as Lester Jenkins) were weekly viewing for my family. I have often said that I know my parents made us work when we were children, and we played outside a lot but it seems like if you name a show from the 80s, we watched it. And we loved it. Who didn’t love Tuti from Facts of Life?

 

 

 

TV Theme Songs and Intros

Half of our TV Theme Song Top 10 list features shows from the ’80s. Because that decade was the golden age of introducing shows by putting the perfect music with the actors’ names in real life. Some told epic background stories (The A-Team), others gave welcoming, feelgood invitations (Cheers), some were impossible not to sing along with (The Jeffersons) and others just played cool music over cool video (Magnum PI, Miami Vice). They just don’t make TV Intros like they used to.

 

 

Saturday Morning Cartoons 

Here is another category where the ’80s dominates the field. It’s hard to fathom the fact that for a short time in my life I got to watch ThunderCats, He-Man, Muppet Babies, Transformers and G.I. Joe all in the same week. We all grew up not just watching these shows, but playing them outside, pretended to be the characters, owning the action figures and using our imaginations in a way that seems foreign these days.

 

 

And it wasn’t just make believe that we learned. We all learned wisdom and life knowledge and that “Knowing is half the battle.” (G.I. JOE!!!)

 

GIJoe Knowing Is Half The Battle GIF - GIJoe KnowingIsHalfTheBattle TheMoreYouKnow GIFs

 

A few years later brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Duck Tales, cementing this decade as the most prolific cartoon decade of all-time.

 

 

Movies 

Again, other decades can compete in this category but any decade that gave us Back to the Future, Die Hard, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Rambo, Beverly Hills Cop, Indiana Jones, The Princess Bride, Top Gun and The Terminator has to be on the short list for best ever. Not to mention that many consider Rocky III and IV to best the best of those movies and the ’80s introduced us to Yoda and a more authoritative, finalized version of Darth Vader. And that there is widespread belief that Empire is the greatest Star Wars film.

Beyond that the 80s brought us timeless coming of age pieces like The Breakfast Club and 16 Candles, child acting legends like Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, and some of the best fantasy ever in Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story. David Bowie was a legend that probably didn’t put his pants on one leg at a time. And man I had a crush on Jennifer Connelly. And it’s a shame that kids today will never know the thrill of going to the local video rental store and getting Spaceballs for the 17th time. Ridiculous speed! My hometown had 300 people growing up, one traffic light and zero fast food places. But we had two video rental stores!

And again, lest there be any doubt, go find Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and watch it. I rest my case.

 

 

 

Professional Wrestling 

Ric Flair and Four Horsemen…Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant…Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, The Ultimate Warrior, Hacksaw Jim Duggan (HOOOOO!!!!), The Rock N Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express, Randy Macho Man “OOOH YEAH” Savage (wrestlers made a lot of random, boisterous sounds but they were super cool), chairs thrown in the ring, steel cages, referees getting knocked out, bad guys cheating, heroes dashing in from the dressing room…what a time to be alive! If my dad wanted to me punish me, a very effective way was to take away Saturday wresting.

3 GIF - WWE Wrestling HulkHuogan GIFs

 

 

NBA Basketball

There were great moments all across sports this decade by people like Jordan, Montana and Kirk Gibson, but all decades have great moments. Only one decade has ever given us Lakers vs. Celtics, Celtics vs. 76ers, Lakers vs. Pistons, Celtics vs. Pistons, and Larry vs. Magic. The modern NBA era is close, closer than any other. But the NBA in the ’80s is about as white-hot as any league could be. Somewhere between Bird telling all of the Lakers he was going to make a three in all their faces in a Finals game and Kevin McHale giving Kurt Rambis a Russian Sickle (classic 80’s wrestling move), the league entered rarefied realms of entertainment. Hearing the Garden Crowd chant “BEAT L-A!! BEAT L-A!!!’ is something I’m thrilled to have witnessed live.

 

 

Video Games 

Two Words: TECMO BOWL

And before that there was John Elway’s QB. And before that “Ten Yard Fight”. And before that the Atari football game where you had to make the block men face forward before each play. What an evolution!

Image result for gif of Tecmo Bowl

 

And there is so much more! In some ways, I miss the 80s the same way Toto misses the rains down in Africa. Yet in others, I don’t really have to. Thanks to Stranger Things and Psych and the magic of the internet, I can transport myself back in time on a whim.

 

Do you remember the ’80s? What did you love most about it?

Gowdy Cannon

I am the pastor of the bilingual ministry of Northwest Community Church in Chicago. Our church is intentional in trying to bring English and Spanish speakers together in worship and community. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married two years. I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to adult immigrants in my community. I am, at times, a student at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chic-Fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

11 thoughts on “Why We Can’t Get Enough of the ’80s

  • November 6, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Great stuff Gowdy! I love that decade..the music in particular.

    Reply
  • November 6, 2017 at 11:54 am
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    Thanks! The music is my favorite part.

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  • November 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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    I agree with some of these I completely disagree with others. I will let you try to figure out which is which.

    One that can not be disputed is tv theme songs and intros. The 80s was and will always be king there.

    Reply
    • November 6, 2017 at 6:50 pm
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      I’ll give it a shot! Since we have talked about some of this stuff a lot.

      —I’ll say you disagree with the Music section, mostly on common sense and not on memory of discussion. I would guess a lot of people would disagree with how passionately I defended the 80’s while I am sure you like some of it, you don’t think it would destroy other decades.

      —I know you don’t like 80s TV now as it has not aged well. I tried to keep that 100 by keeping it in perspective because back then I loved so many shows but I don’t think you liked many of my offerings even back then.

      –You spoke to themes and intros so I’ll bring up the time on Community when they found the founder of the school underground where he had been living for like 40 years and Abed tells him that TV intros aren’t cool any more.

      –I’ll bet you agree with the cartoon paragraph though you don’t like all the ones I mention.

      –I’ll think you like a ton of 80’s movies though you may not place it at the top of the decade mountain

      –We have never talked about wresting so I don’t know about that one.

      –I know you loved 80s NBA but you have been instrumental in helping me appreciate the modern era

      –We haven’t talked much about video games either. I haven’t played video games in 20 years but I used to play Tecmo Bowl til I lost feeling in my fingers.

      Reply
  • November 6, 2017 at 7:52 pm
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    One big thing that is 80s to me is the games like Rubiks Cube, Trivial Pursuit, Hungry Hippos, etc.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 8:06 pm
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      Those were fun. The list is endless!!

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  • November 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm
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    Your guesses are pretty close.

    Music – I like 80s music, but there is also tons of really bad stuff, so it would not be my favorite decade. I would agree that the most popular stuff from the 80s was better than the most popular music from other decades, but I tend to avoid most top 40 stuff in general from any decade.
    TV – Definitely not the 80s.
    Wrestling – 80s is king.
    TV theme songs – As stated before 80s is king.
    NBA – overall the 80s is the best decade.
    Cartoons – This one is tough because I was the target audience for all the cartoons you mentioned, while I am not the target for the current cartoons. That being said there are plenty of great cartoons now and they are not all trying to sell you toys like most of the ones in the 80s were. I watch Voltron on Netflix with my son. The current show is really good, the 80s version which we watched a little bit of recently was awful in every way. Transformers and GI Joe were so good it is hard to vote against them.
    Movies – Most of my top movies were not from the 80s so I would have to disagree. Not sure which decade I would put first though.
    Video Games – I am ok with putting the 80s on top here. Although I liked Tecmo Super Bowl (which came out in 1990 or 91 better than the original Tecmo Bowl.

    Reply
    • November 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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      My approach to this was too be a tad loud and exaggerated so when you take that away I am very close on most of these. In a decade by decade battle over TV the 80s might finish 4th to me. I just found it a good decade for its time and enjoyed TV back then.

      Good point about the cartoons. I stopped watching cartoons around 93 so I have very little to compare.

      I also liked Tecmo Super Bowl better and would not put the 80’s as the best decade for Video Games (Madden was the best to me, from the 90’s), the 80s was just a great decade of video game evolving. And even though Super Bowl was better, Tecmo Bowl was just one of those classic things everyone remembers with deep fondness. Especially Bo Jackson. There are Youtubes dedicated to him on that game.

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    • November 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm
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      Mike said he was the target audience. True! True! I was reading that the writers of Transformers always began meetings with “How would Mike Lytle want this to play out?”

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  • November 8, 2017 at 8:04 pm
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    And NCAA basketball. UNC with Michael Jordan and James Worthy in 1982, and the unforgettable Jim Valvano and NCSU in 1983.

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    • November 9, 2017 at 10:25 am
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      Yes, those were great moments. The 80’s also launched “March Madness” on CBS, the way we still have it today (though three other networks have joined in) and gave us One Shining Moment. I’d put Villanova beating Georgetown up there for best championship ever as well as Indiana over Syracuse. So I agree the ’80s were great for college basketball.

      Reply

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