See how silly my title is? Don’t laugh too hard or too long or too quickly; I’ve heard people say this. “I was literally starving to death!” one woman said at one workplace where I temped. I went past her cube later in the day to discover she outweighed me by about sixty pounds, and that’s quite saying something. Clearly, she didn’t know what “literally” meant, but continued to use the word.
Still, we’ve all done silly things, and while that’s not a problem, some of the things my generation did and enjoyed are pretty silly indeed. And they’re plenty embarrassing now, too, in retrospect. Nothing’s ever seen so clearly as it is when we look over our shoulder at it, is it?
I’m not sure how much music videos have changed in the past two decades, because I don’t watch them anymore. I never really did, but like most teenagers, when MTV was a new, novel idea, I spent a few of my available hours watching them. And they can be very embarrassing indeed. How about this one?
Yeah, that’s a classic, ain’t it?
Or this one:
Pretty fancy animation effects, no?
Music videos. Yeah, some of ‘em were embarrassing, but you know what’s more embarrassing?. . .
The Music Itself
Oh, the songs! How ‘bout this gem?
Oh yeah! Listen to those lyrics, baby! Who had better poetry than that going on?
And who could forget this classic?
Sweet, no? Ha! Man, now those were the days!
But it wasn’t just music, y’know. How about . . .
Yeah! Shoulder pads! Somewhere a fashion designer made gazillions of dollars by deciding women should look like linebackers! So they contrived shoulder pads!
The cast of Designing Women seems to epitomize what I’m talking about, but there were much more extreme examples. And no one seemed willing to caution women about the body armor effect of shoulder-pad build-up. Blouses had them, jackets had them, coats had them. Heck, layering up in cold weather could actually result in a turtle effect wherein the neck disappears into the collar of the shirt and other clothing. You’d have to use a periscope to see where the hell you were going.
Oh, but it didn’t stop with shoulder pads . . . or even start with them, did it? Oh, no, it might’ve started with . . .
Leggings and Headbands
Now, this is what most people remember about the 80s, isn’t it? The ultimate fashion statement, defining a generation of people who had no idea what they’d look like later in life when they had to see these images again.
Olivia had it goin’ on back in 1981, but today we just sort of laugh about those things. With just a touch of a blush on our faces while we do. But we were young, foolish, and we thought this stuff was the bee’s knees. And at the time it was, as much as our iPods and touch-screen phones are today.
Oh, but we weren’t done yet. Not us. Uh-uh. Why stop with memorably bad music, videos and fashions when you can move forward to . . .
Oh, the 80s weren’t as bad, in my humble opinion, as the 70s were in this regard, but we were pretty far out there. Or down there, depending on how you look at it. I mean, how many redeeming qualities can a generation who invented the Mullet have, as far as hair is concerned?
I mean, check out Daryl Hall. In the early 80s he was the crown jewel of Mullets. And it wasn’t just rock musicians either. We all sported some variation of the Mullet. See the picture of Olivia Newton-John above? Yeah, that’s a modified Mullet, baby.
We took hairdos to new highs. Or sometimes lows. No generation before or after has done as much to make hair difficult and time-consuming as we did. You couldn’t just get up in the morning and rake a comb through your hair. Oh no. Not us, baby. We needed chemicals to achieve the look we wanted. We needed frickin’ architecture to achieve the look we wanted. And so, the era of polymer-based hair products really came into its own. We had not hairdos but helmets, ladies and gents, helmets. Depending on the ‘do and the amount of plastic required to get it, we could probably receive a highway safety rating from today’s National Transportation Safety Board. Take that, baby boomers with your Vitalis and Brylcreem.
Yes, indeed – we took our hairdos seriously in the 1980s.
But in the end, looking back at all this stuff made me smile. Big hair, big shoulders, big bucks and big drugs. We had it all in the 80s, with big video productions and big movies. And we had big attitude, too. I think in some ways we still do. Seems we were the last generation of people who thought the world didn’t owe us something, like we didn’t have the good life coming to us. We believed it was there for the taking but it wasn’t going to be handed to us. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it seemed to me.
As embarrassing as some of this stuff is, I got a nice laugh out of seeing it and remembering it. I mean, a good laugh. I literally died laughing, in fact.
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