Oh, the 80’s. That awkward decade of slap bracelets, big hair, and bright colors has been the object of near-universal derision since the 90’s came and taught us what cool was. Yet unlike the 60’s and 70’s, the “me” decade is not content to rest in the history books, but instead continually threatens to retake American culture with its legwarmers and legions of hair-metal rockers.
A quick survey of the pop culture landscape and it’s clear the decade is mounting yet another attack on all we hold dear. Clash of the Titans 3-D has already melted eyeballs across the nation, but that’s just the opening shot from a salvo of 80’s retreads aimed right at the silver screen. The 1984 classic “Red Dawn,” about a gang of high school kids who repel a Communist invasion, is being remade and is slated for a 2010 release. Horror buffs get a return trip to Elm Street when Freddy Krueger is refried and served up in an all-new Nightmare on Elm Street.
Nostalgic nerds can look forward to remakes of Short Circuit, Weird Science, Karate Kid, and a new Tron movie. Not to mention a new, Arnold-free edition of Predator. And maybe the new Smurf movie will finally answer why there’s only one gal in Smurfville.
The 80’s have long had designs on our music, but besides a few Duran Duran-style sputtering comeback tours and a few novelty acts (I’m looking at you, The Darkness) we’ve been relatively safe. Until now. Without even knowing it, the sounds of the 80’s have crept back into our lives like so many cheesy rubber gremlins.
Take the Brit synth-pop duo La Roux, whose hits freely crib from the tech-infused sound of 80s pop. Vocalist Elly Jackson has cited 80’s legends David Bowie, Prince, and Madonna as musical influences. Speaking of the Material Girl, you’ll likely have gap-toothed flashbacks of Madonna as you watch Lady Gaga’s platinum hair swirl around her S&M wardrobe. Even Saturday Night Live picked up on their similar styles, staging an on-air fight between the two.
Another British artist caught trying to smuggle retro through our airports is Little Boots, who climbed out of YouTube and on to the charts with her 80’s vintage “stylophone” synthesizer in tow. The worst offender of all is the band No Doubt, which is working on an album inspired by one-hit wonders from the 80’s. This is an idea so crazy, so terrible, it just might work… or destroy life as we know it.
Even that would be more forgivable than Idol Adam Lambert’s attempts to sneak disco back onto our airwaves with his latest album “For Your Entertainment.” Not only does it feature an album cover that Donna Summers would be proud of – a heavily eye-shadowed Lambert is caressing his electric blue and purple-lit face with a black fingerless glove – but it also features tracks penned from Lady Gaga and former The Darkness band member Justin Hawkins.
The fashion industry is in on the conspiracy, too. The 2009 New York Fashion Week was clearly in the pocket of the shoulder pad-industrial complex, with designers making runway models look like starving linebackers. And you know those leggings, skinny jeans, and big earrings you’ve just picked up? No matter how hot you think you look, you’re just one perm away from being an extra in Flash Dance. I hope you kept the receipt, because those fossils need to be put back in the ground.
My advice? Lay back and accept the 80's - they aren't going away.