Monday, February 06, 2006

I'll Melt With You - The 80s (Part I 1980-1984)

No decade in my life (although since I was two when the 60s ended I wouldn't remember that one, but I've heard it was big) has defined itself like the 80s. I'll bet that statement stands for a few more decades. Coming out of the end of the 70s recession with high inflation, long gas lines, and hostages in Iran, America wasn't feeling good about itself. That all changed drastically, starting in 1980. From yuppies to "I Want My MTV!" to "Just Say No!" to Bird and Magic to hair bands to Rubik's cubes and hackey sacks to "God bless you and God bless America," the 80s were filled with glitz, energy, and a renewed spirit after the turbulence at the end of the previous decade. I'll run a timeline with events, movies, music, TV, and fads. Because of all the things that went on in the 80s, I'll try to keep the commentary to a minimum, and anyone who wants to discuss can do it in the comments stream.

February 22, 1980 - Miracle on Ice, USA 4 - USSR 3
May 18, 1980 - Mount St. Helen's erupted killing 65 people
November 1980 - Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter in presidential election
[HALT!!! for a tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan, The Great Communicator - I'd be remiss not to say something about the greatest president of the 20th century and perhaps more than that. Like Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, Reagan came in on a wave in 1980, and after taking office in 1981, gave people hope. Whereas FDR had given people hope in the government to solve the crises the Depression had left behind and as the world was heading into a second world war, Reagan looked at the American people and told them they were great enough to help themselves. And, as a whole, we believed him. When he took office, the Cold War between two superpowers that had been going toe-to-toe for twelve rounds had climaxed. When he left, only one was standing. The USA. Well-liked, even by most of his political enemies, Reagan's first four years will stand the test of time as being one of America's Golden Ages. Somebody play Hail to the Chief.]
December 8, 1980 - John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark Chapman.

Raging Bull
Ordinary People
Friday the 13th
The Blue Lagoon
Somewhere in Time
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
Princess Daisy, Judith Krantz
Cosmos, Carl Sagan

Dallas (Who Shot J.R.?)
Three's Company
60 Minutes
The Love Boat
The Dukes of Hazzard

Sailing, Christopher Cross
Call Me, Blondie
Funkytown, Lipps Inc.
Another Brick in the Wall, Pink Floyd
Please Don't Go, K.C. and the Sunshine Band

January 20, 1981 - Reagan inaugurated and takes office
April 12, 1981 - Space Shuttle Columbia, the first space shuttle mission, lifts off
June 5, 1981 - CDC reports first fatal cases of (what will eventually be called) AIDS
August 1, 1981 - MTV (Music Television) starts with The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star
September 25, 1981 - Sandra Day O'Connor takes seat as first female US Supreme Court justice

Clash of the Titans
Raiders of the Lost Ark
On Golden Pond
Chariots of Fire
The Fox and the Hound

Cujo, Stephen King
Gorky Park, Martin Cruz Smith
A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein
The Lord God Made Them All, James Herriot

The Jeffersons
60 Minutes
Too Close for Comfort
The Greatest American Hero

Betty Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes
Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
Celebrate, Kool and the Gang
Jessie's Girl, Rick Springstein
Keep on Loving You, REO Speedwagon
Rapture, Blondie

February 1, 1982 - Late Night with David Letterman debuts
April 2, 1982 - Falklands War begins
June 14, 1982 - Falklands War ends
July 1, 1982 - Rev. Sun Myung Moon marries 4,150 of his followers in MSG, NYC, NY
November 13, 1982 - Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is dedicated in Washington D.C.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Blade Runner
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Beastmaster
Conan the Barbarian
Sophie's Choice

Space, James Michener
Master of the Game, Sidney Sheldon
Jane Fonda's Workout Book, Jane Fonda
Living, Loving, and Learning, Leo Buscaglia

Magnum P.I.
Falcon Crest
The A-Team
Simon & Simon

Eye of the Tiger, Survivor
Jack and Diane, John Cougar
Don't You Want Me, Human League
Centerfold, J. Geils Band
Tainted Love, Soft Cell
867-5309 Jenny, Tommy Tutone
Shake It Up, The Cars
Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran

January 22, 1983 - Bjorn Borg retires from tennis
April 18, 1983 - US Embassy in Beirut bombed
April 1983 - Miami Dolphins draft Dan Marino with 27th pick in the 1st round of the NFL Draft
September 5, 1983 - Tom Brokaw becomes NBC anchor
November 2, 1983 - Reagan signs bill making Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday 3rd Monday each January
November 30, 1983 - Microsoft Word is released

The Big Chill
Mr. Mom
A Christmas Story
Year of Living Dangerously
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Risky Business
Valley Girl

Pet Sematary, Stephen King
The Little Drummer Girl, John Le Carre
Ironweed, William Kennedy
The Neverending Story (English version), Michael Ende
Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, Erma Bombeck

The A-Team
Kate & Allie
Fall Guy

Every Breath You Take, The Police
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Down Under, Men At Work
Come On Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners
Little Red Corvette, Prince
I Melt with You, Modern English

January 1, 1984 - AT&T broken up into 24 independent units
January 9, 1984 - Clara Peller debuts in Wendy's "Where's the Beef?!" commercials
May 8, 1984 - Soviet Union announces it will boycott Summer Olympic games in retaliation of US boycott in '80
November 2, 1984 - Velma Barfield becomes first woman in US to be executed since 1962
November 25, 1984 - Band-Aid artists (36) record "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
December 22, 1984 - In NYC, Bernhard Goetz shoots 4 African-American youths trying to rob him

The Terminator
Beverly Hills Cop
The Killing Fields
The Karate Kid
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
A Nightmare on Elmstreet
Romancing the Stone
The Natural

The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
Love and War, John Jakes
Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
The Hunt for the Red October, Tom Clancy

The Cosby Show
Family Ties
Miami Vice
Murder, She Wrote

Jump, Van Halen
Owner of a Lonely Heart, Yes
Karma Chameleon, Culture Club
Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
The Reflex, Duran Duran
Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper
Let's Go Crazy, Prince and the Revolution
Hold Me Now, Thompson Twins
Borderline, Madonna
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
All these categories I've listed encapsulate both the good and the bad. And obviously -- as you don't see A Flock of Seagulls on any list -- I've left out a lot of the music, movies, and TV we remember as well. Plus, I haven't even mentioned the fads, commericals, and clothing that made the 80s what it was.

There's a lot to say and I haven't scratched the surface of my favorite music, shows, and other guilty pleasures that made the 80s what they were. How about hair bands? Have I mentioned even one? But we can make up for that in the comments stream for whoever wants to discuss the 80s, especially the first few years.

Get your boom boxes on playing some Hooters or Def Leppard or Night Ranger and let's rock n' roll. Talking 80s.


DugALug said...


All I can say is that I miss Ronnie.

With the Iraqi war, Ron would have bombed Iraq AND killed Sadam, and got on tv and said 'Well?! I did it again!'. Everybody but the French and Russians would be happy, but they'd all get together trade a few Polish jokes, some nice wine and vodka, and hug Mr. Teflon at the end of the day.

There was, and probably never will be a better, braver, and more cherished American President than Reagan.


codepoke said...

Rich, you continue to amaze me with these lists. Where do you get them all?

I remember nearly half of that stuff, but you seem to remember it all, and I graduated high school in '82. One would think I would have an advantage in the years 80-84. Nope. No hope.

Still, I remember going to see Excalibur in the theater. It was a huge moment for me. All my dreams were going to come true on the large screen. Too bad they didn't even come within 50 miles of them.

Road Warrior, though.


That's 1981 according to IMDB, and it's not in your list. WooHoo! I found a major ommision in a Rich list. I have truly scaled the heights!


I'm not sure this list stuff is good for me.

I sure loved Road Warrior, though. I had never seen a movie with an antihero. It was wild.

Speaking of antiheroes, are either of you fans of Thomas Covenant, Chronicles of the Unbeliever? (The last novels were published in the early 80's so I am allowed to mention it here.)

Rich said...


I've got to be honest. A lot of it's Googled. I've got events, movies, TV, and music that I know I want to jot down, but to make sure I get it in the right years, I've got to have help. Then, I'll see something else that, "Yeah, I've got to have that on my list!" and so I'll add it.

I'd say about half to 2/3s is from memory (on these decade lists) and then I'm finding stuff to fill it out. And most of the dates I get totally from researching a bit.

Sorry to disappoint anyone out there. But -- probably to my discredit in a lot of ways -- pop culture and events fascinate me, so when I have to look stuff up, it's not like research. It's more like fun.

Rich said...

Plus, a lot of the stuff I'm logging in my mind (and on paper whenever it comes to mind) for fictional writing purposes. You just never know when it can come in handy.

jon said...

You've failed to mention the BEST tv show ever (in my mind)...

Cheers, 1982

Rich said...

Yep. I missed that one. Cheers should have been there, although I think it's popularity skied in the later 1980s, which, who knows, I might even get to that someday.