Despite best efforts of many, the '80s are back

January 22, 2002

Despite best efforts of many, the '80s are back

Is it time to pull my Members Only jacket out of storage?

Blow the dust off my Loverboy and Rick Springfield albums?

Try to figure out that aggravating Rubik's cube?

I wonder if my Atari game system still works?

Yes, people, the 1980s are back in vogue.

The '80s are everywhere. Some of the clothes are coming back, big hair is back in style and the music is dominating the airwaves. Tri-State radio stations WKMZ of Martinsburg and Star 92.1 of Chambersburg feature classic rock and roll tunes as their main format, including a bunch of music from the '80s.

The other day, I was on my way to work and an '80s tune by the Cars came on the radio and I had a brief flashback. I was tooling along in a '77 Beetle with my collar flipped up, a cigarette in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. I was not going to work, I was heading to a Magnum Music dance with J. Geils and Van Halen albums in the back seat. All of the old gang would be there. Not a care in the world...


Through most of the '90s, the 10-year span known as the "me" or "greed" decade was ridiculed by many as a time well forgotten.

Now we're getting our own TV show on Fox.

It's not that shows on Fox (see "Marry a Millionaire " or "Temptation Island" for starters) are indicators of anything except being harbingers of bad taste, but "That 80s Show" premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. and I have to admit I'm curious.

If you've been watching NFC playoff games and regular season pro football games over the past several weeks, you've seen the promos for the show. If you pay close attention, it leaves no pet rock (or was that the '70s?) unturned. Some of the highlights:

- It comes complete with a punk rock chick with 10-inch spiked hair daggers protruding from the top of her head and a pierced chain going from her nose to her ear. She talks tough and her name is Tuesday.

I don't seem to remember any girls like that in Waynesboro when I was roaming the streets in the '80s. I also spent four years at Shippensburg in the middle part of the decade and I don't recall any girls looking like that.

- Other characters include siblings Corey and Katie living with their entrepreneur father who's about to invent an exercise device called the Gut Whacker; Corey's ex-girlfriend Sophia, who's a SWF seeking out relationships with people of both genders; and Corey's buddy Rodger, who's dead-set on being the ideal '80s corporate man.

The show is set in 1984, the year I graduated from high school. Unlike the '70s and '60s, which are more often represented and revered in film and television, our memories are a bit fresher about the '80s. We can remember a lot of the music (Flock of Seagulls and Adam Ant, anyone?), some of the cars (K cars were numerous, Toyota 4x4s were cool), the movies ("Back to the Future," "Ghostbusters" and "Indiana Jones" to name a few) and the stars (Madonna, Don Johnson and the "Brat Pack.")

Watching "The Wedding Singer" with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore a few years ago brought back a lot of memories, especially the hair (yes, I really did have a lot back then), the clothes (the Madonna wannabee, the mini-skirts), the attitudes and of course, the music.

Will the "That 80s Show" be as good as "The Wedding Singer?" I hope so. My thought is if it is done in the same vein as its '70s counterpart, it will be worth a few laughs and may stick around for a few seasons. My only worry is that - like the '80s themselves - the show may be a bit over the top.

To be fair, the '80s do kind of take a bum rap. They weren't all that bad. It was the decade that Ronald Reagan helped make patriotism important again, the decade that brought the start of the personal computer age and the decade that saw a lot of important world developments.

So why are we so retro these days? Why do we want to watch shows that remind us of times that will never return?

Not everyone wants to, but for many, it's a time to hear the music and lingo of a time when we were younger and didn't have all the worries and stresses of adulthood.

It's a pain-free, 30-minute trip down memory lane. I just hope I can still relate ... and can find my Billy Idol T-shirt by Wednesday night.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of the Morning Herald. Reach him by e-mail at

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