I generally hate “listicles” as I associate them with millennials, but I was feeling nostalgic and reflecting on some repressed childhood memories… so here are some common frustrations experienced by children of that fantastic decade, the 1980′s:
- Taping the Super Bowl on Betamax only to discover after the game that it didn’t record because the VCR was set to the wrong channel.
- Getting really far in a Nintendo game, but when you try to continue you can’t get the passcode you wrote down to work because you can’t tell the difference between 0 and O and Q on the pixelated screen.
- Getting in big trouble in school for acting out “Karate Kid” moves at recess.
- Trying to find the last few Garbage Pail Kid cards you need on the checklist when all the stores have already started carrying the next series.
- When one of the sides of your M.U.S.C.L.E. Hard Rockin’ Knockin’ wrestling ring breaks.
- Your parents yelling at you through the home intercom system
- After seeing films like “Red Dawn,” “Wargames,” and “Nostradamus: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow,” the feeling that nuclear war between the US and The Soviet Union was inevitable and only a few years away.
- You get in trouble for repeatedly making a pay phone call itself.
- One of the first female TV characters you’re sexually attracted to turns out to be an alien lizard.
- Agonizing over the stuff you want from the toy section of the new Sears catalog
- The lever on your viewmaster gets busted.
- You turn on the TV and find out your favorite Saturday morning cartoon has been canceled
- Your mother won’t take you to Hardee’s so you can get a California Raisins figurine with your meal.
- When you push play on your walkman and find out the volume is set to “insanely loud.”
- One of your favorite read-along records breaks or goes missing from its case.
- Getting made fun of for greasing your hair after seeing “The Outsiders” and thus actually becoming an outsider yourself.
- You guessed wrong in the “Where’s The Cap’n” $1,000,000 Cap’n Crunch Sweepstakes
- Having your brand new shiny, Husky 683 destroyed by a tomahawk chop from a carpenter pencil in an epic game of popping pencils.
- Your mom yells at you when you come home with grass stains all over your clothes after playing “Smear The Queer” at recess.
- A member of your party getting dysentery in “The Oregon Trail.”
- Being terrified that your creepy talking Pee Wee Herman doll will say something in the middle of the night by itself.
- Being punched by all your friends at a sleepover for not saying “safety” or putting your thumb on your forehead fast enough after you farted.
- One of the buttons stops working on your video game watch
- The Los Angeles Rams trading Eric Dickerson to the Colts.
Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism“
The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot(Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.
With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.
Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks(which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)
Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games(such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.
In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.
Dust off your 1980′s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.
Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism“
1985 NFC Championship
Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears
January 12, 1986
After watching Eric Dickerson run for a playoff record 248 yards and the Rams beat the Cowboys 20-0 in the divisional playoffs the previous week from my grandparents’ condo, I had high hopes for LA to beat the big bad Bears in the NFC Championship. Instead, they lost 24-0, and it was a pretty miserable day for me. This game is thought of by most as a lopsided blowout given the shutout score, but in actuality the Rams had their chances to give Chicago a run for their money. With Chicago only up 10-0 right before the half, the Rams had driven down to the bears 5 yard line. They took too long on a play and then tried to call timeout with 1 second left to kick a field goal. The refs didn’t give them the timeout, and the half was over. Had they gotten a chance to kick the field goal, the score would have been 10-3 at half time, and they would have gotten some momentum.
Instead the Bears came out in the 3rd quarter and went up 17-0. The Rams also had a 60 yard pass from Dieter Brock to Ron Brown to the 15 yard line get called back on a questionable call(Brown had stepped out of bounds but was pushed out as a result of illegal contact or pass interference which wasn’t called.) Anyhow, the Rams choked in this game when they were one of the only teams that was at least good enough to beat the bears(they came back to Chicago the following year and got their revenge against them in an epic monday night game.) This was really a heartbreaking loss for probably the best Ram team of the 80′s, and ever since this game I have always hated the Bears.
Rams vs. Dolphins – December 14, 1986
This was a brutal loss for me. I remember I was watching this game right up until it was about to go into overtime. Then my parents called me to dinner and as soon as I was finished I ran down to the basement and turned on the TV to see that the dolphins just won it in overtime. Another memory I have of this game is that there was a ram touchdown that they got after instant replay, a 25 yard pass to Kevin House. There was no time limit for replay back then, and it took like 5 or 10 minutes before they finished reviewing it and gave him the touchdown and the Anaheim crowd went crazy. Had the Rams won this game, they would have clinched the division. Instead, after a dominating season they ended up only getting in the playoffs as a wildcard after losing the final game of the regular season and the division to the 49ers.
Songs don’t simply exist in a vacuum. Music is not necessarily to be enjoyed merely for what it is, but rather, where it can take you. For many stereotypical hipsters, mention of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports” takes them to the ironically unpleasant scenes of violence featuring Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen in “American Psycho,” whose assessment of the music I mostly agree with:
Do you like Huey Lewis & The News? Their early work was a little too ‘new-wave’ for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own – both commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.
Yet, the year 2000 and American Psycho isn’t where it takes me. When I hear songs like “Heart Of Rock & Roll” I’m transported to the summers of 1984 and ’85, riding in my mom’s 1981 Ford Fairmont on the way to Ben Franklin drug store to buy Garbage Pail Kids or coming back from an extended trip to Brookfield Square Mall, where I would wait patiently for hours as my mother shopped for 80′s fashion, knowing that at some point she would probably buy me some Insecticon Transformers from Kaybee Toys. As he called out the various cities in the song, we would eagerly anticipate the moment when Huey yells out “Milwaukee!” Of course we didn’t realize then that they had released different versions targeted to the individual radio markets. For many years I wondered if I had imagined hearing “Milwaukee” in the song, since I never heard it in there again in all the thousands of times it has been on the radio. Thanks to the internet, I know I’m not crazy(at least in that way.) Yep, I totally fell for that marketing tactic, like a wide eyed girl who responds enthusiastically after receiving a seemingly personalized yet copy and pasted message that was sent to 50 other hot babes on the same dating website.
Or sometimes the song sends me to the same mid 80′s summers, only I’m in my dad’s jeep on our way to the zoo to see “Chandar” the white tiger, excited at the prospect of getting those plastic animals from “Mold-A-Rama” vending machines to add to my collection.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate “If This Is It” more, with its simplistic yet relatable lyrics, which resonate with me and are probably applicable to most people’s romantic experiences. I don’t care much for most of the other songs on the album. The line in “I Want A New Drug” about face breakouts conjurs up awful memories of high school anxiety and depression making me unable to enjoy the jam. Though I am getting over this. Not to mention I’ve never been into drugs really. I much prefer the Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” theme song, which they accused of having plagiarized the melody from this song.
Despite the fact that Huey Lewis and The News are frequently described as the embodiment of 80′s mainstream “corporate yuppie rock,” the yuppie white liberals that inherited today’s world want nothing to do with them. Blender Magazine listed “Heart of Rock & Roll” as #6 on their “50 Worst Songs Ever” list in 2009, a list that probably tells you more about the people who created it than those who appear on it(to paraphrase an unknown forum commenter from the internet hinterlands.) To call Huey Lewis and The News’ “Sports” mainstream corporate rock would not be a lie. Yet such an incomplete proclamation ignores the reality that the popular rock musicians of that era were made up of people who struggled for many years paying their dues. Notice how many rockstars of the time were in their mid 30′s. Huey Lewis turned 34 in 1984 and had been playing in bands since Clover in 1971. The members of Dire Straits were roughly 35-36 when “Money For Nothing” hit it big. These songs were triumphalist songs of professional culmination through years of hard work and experience. Unlike the auto-tuned trust fund pop rock of today of teenagers plucked out of crowds for their looks and dancing ability, these were veteran musicians who paid their dues and mastered their craft. These mid 80′s “victory” songs were a part of the renewed spirit of the Reagan and Thatcher years… a rebound from the malaise of the 70′s and the demise of disco(though I happen to love the the late 1970′s and disco personally.) I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a child in this optimistic and carefree era, the last of it’s kind.
One doesn’t have to embrace Reagan or Thatcherite conservatism(Bruce Springsteen certainly didn’t) to appreciate these apolitical jams though. So next time you’re listening to what used to be called the “oldies” station(yet now seems more likely to play Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” than a song by the actual Buddy Holly, and “Heart Of Rock & Roll” comes on, don’t let the indie hipster inside you make you feel ashamed to enjoy it, or worse yet, fall into the trap of liking itironically like some impromptu meal at Red Lobster. Just crank it up and sing along(the “stutter” part at the beginning of the chorus is my favorite.) Revel in their hard earned success with them as they take you to a better time and place in your mind.
Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism“