The 1980s are alive and well in pop culture

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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There is no doubt that the hottest decade of the moment in popular culture has to be the 1980s.

This wave of ’80s mania is no doubt fueled by many film and television directors close in age to myself who grew up in that decade and are now tapping into our need for childhood nostalgia as we enter into middle age.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

I just finished watching the second season of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, which is not only set in the 1980s, but also includes a treasure trove of ’80s movie homages or references – including Star Wars, E.T., Poltergeist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Firestarter, Stand by Me, Aliens and The Goonies, just to name a few.

The actor who played one of the main characters in The Goonies, Sean Astin, even plays a major role in Stranger Things 2, as the second season is known, once again playing up that ’80s movie angle I suppose.

Even the show’s music and opening credit sequence seem like something straight from the 1980s.

But Stranger Things is not the only show on television capitalizing on our love of that particular decade. Another ’80s-set show that our family watches regularly is The Goldbergs.

Each show begins with the narrator announcing that “it was (insert date here), 1980-something.” It doesn’t exactly follow a chronological order. There may be references to something that happened in the late 1980s followed by an earlier ’80s reference later on, but the point they are driving home is that it is indeed the ’80s in all its glory.

And while Stranger Things is the type of show I can’t yet watch with my kids, The Goldbergs has become a weekly viewing experience shared with the whole family.

Oddly enough, it is my children, both born a couple of decades after the 1980s, who love the show the most. My theory is they are interested in getting a taste of what life was like for their parents when we were their age.

The ’80s nostalgia seems to extend to movies as well. In the last few years, we’ve had plenty of ’80s movies or shows that have been remade, including a few of the ones I’ve listed above. That list also includes movies such as Ghostbusters, Footloose, The Karate Kid and Robocop.

Nothing filled me with as much excitement, however, as the day I saw the movie trailer for the live action movie based on my favorite childhood cartoon/toys: Transformers.

While I admit the last few movies in that franchise haven’t been great, I still find myself eagerly watching each one based on that childhood fascination with robots that could change into cars or planes or pretty much anything else the toy-makers could think of.

But it’s not just the movie or television screens that are filled with 80s nostalgia. If you scan the channels on the radio, you might temporarily forget what decade it is. I count no less than three current Metroplex radio stations whose playlists are made up of mostly 80s pop or rock hits.

I still remember a few years back when I heard my first 80s song on one of the “oldies” stations and thinking I must officially be getting old if I can recall when that “oldy” was brand new.

But I’ll admit that our car radio dial often lands on one of those stations, and I’ve even caught my kids singing along.

I suppose I’ll enjoy the 80s nostalgia trend while it lasts, and maybe prepare for the inevitable time when the ’90s decade of my teen years will become the next trendy decade in pop culture.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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