Monday, July 13, 2009

The 1980s!

Today, I was reminiscing about growing up in the 80s and how lucky I was to be a child during that amazing period of time. I decided to put together a time capsule post of life as a child and early teen (there's a bit of 90s in there, too). For many, it will bring back tons of memories and for a few, a little more of an introduction. Alas, the 80s and what made it so great, i.e. my childhood in a nutshell!

The fact that I grew up to be such a lover of pop culture is probably not uncommon having been a child in such a mind-blowing time. The 80s were marked by originality, a strange thing by today's standards.

While times have changed in some positive ways, it's interesting the double-standards the decades held. I'm sure gay rights are far more progressive these days, yet there seems to be a real public backlash towards androgyny which was VERY cool and acceptable in the 80s. Guys could wear eyeliner, and entertainers that blurred gender lines were way cool. Movies frequently starred kids who were androgynous. Kids in 80s movies were cool, they always had neat bedrooms in attics (I always wanted one). Entertainers were so cool. No one could get enough Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Cindy Lauper. I remember when all the girls made it a goal to look just like Madonna.

This is what life looked like for me as a kid.


MTV (1980s version)

MTV was a HUGE deal in the 1980s, when it first appeared on the entertainment landscape. I can't remember the last time I watched MTV, it's simply too painful these days. What was once a celebration of music and videos has turned into cheap crap that has nothing to do with music, not to mention a lot of music and videos on MTV now suck. 1980s MTV had amazing videos, awesome artists, strange shows, and all the news anchors had crazy hair.

One of the coolest videos of the 80s (still cool by today's standards but mind-boggling back then):

Take On Me (A-Ha)

Nowadays, people take special effects for granted. But back then, no one could figure out how the hell this video was made, and it was rad.


Nickelodeon played a predominant role in the lives of kids and young adults in the 1980s. It also had super cool programming, from You Can't Do That on Television to The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

My personal favorite shows were:

Double Dare:

You needed to pop a Xanax while watching this show. The final challenge used to stress me out so bad I'd practically be pulling my hair out. It was a family trivia game, and the winning family had to go through a 60 second obstacle course at the end. They had to go through tons of slimy bizarre obstacles trying to find hidden flags. I always wanted to go through it myself but given that I could hardly cope with it watching it on television, I can't imagine how I would have done. PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE!

David The Gnome:

The David the Gnome theme song used to put me in the best mood (when I was a toddler, so did Dynasty).

Saturdays were the best TV days you could ask for. In the morning you had the Saturday morning cartoon lineup (more on that later) and of course, at night, you had - SNICK!!!

Snick was the Saturday night Nickelodeon line-up. I remember turning off all the lights and watching the ultra-spooky Are You Afraid of the Dark?

On the other days of the week, there was Nick at Nite, which introduced me to a lot of classic TV programming like I Love Lucy, Mr. Ed, Dobie Gillis, and the fantabulous Alfred Hitchcock Presents (enter theme music):

It was really neat that they played these shows on a kids channel, I doubt kids today would watch any of this.

The best show lineup for TV on Friday nights was TGIF, which included Step By Step and Family Matters.

Steve Urkel was THE 1980s nerd. I always loved the episodes where he would turn into his alter-ego. Since Steve never could get his crush, Laura Winslow, to give him any romantic attention, he invented a booth he could step into. He would come out as Stephan Urkelle, this smooth talking hottie. Score!

80s TV shows were pretty strange. I remember vividly:

Max Headroom:

ALF (who lived on Melmac - why I remember this eludes me):

I remember watching Perfect Strangers, Who's the Boss? (loved it when the story line between Tony and Angela got romantic), Growing Pains (remember Leonardo DiCaprio?), and Full House religiously. America's Funniest Home Videos was also a must-see.

I remember watching Dr. Paul Bearer hosting Creature Feature, preparing us all for the weekend scare flick:

See creeptacular Dr. Paul Bearer here (click).

I loved Archie Comics and had an affinity for Jughead Jones, who like me couldn't stop consuming hamburgers:

80s commercials were pretty memorable. Wendy's "Where's the Beef" ads, the amazing California Rasins, and McDonalds had a flurry of cool McDonaldland characters. I personally think kids today are getting jipped without them!

My favorites were Grimace, the Fry Guys, and Mac Tonite. (Remember the singing nuggets?)

Morris the cat and Spuds Mackenzie were all the rage.

For some inexplicable reason, this Rolo commercial blew my mind as a kid:

See it here (click).

FYI: Clancy Brown plays 'The Thinking Man' statue. He of course went on to star in one of my favorite TV shows, Carnivale.

I also loved the Tootsie Pop owl and was lame enough to actually count the number of licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (I can't recall).

My favorite 80s Toys and Must-haves:

While we didn't have the variety of gaming kids today do (more on video games later!) we had tons of puzzles and substitutes, as well as rad toys. Among them:

The Rubik's cube (I don't think I ever did manage to solve it:)

I also had a Rubik's cube toy box and a giant Crayola crayon piggy bank. The Magic 8-ball was also a necessary item in any 80s kid's toolbox, it knew all...

Speak N Spell!

Yes, E.T. did incorporate this in creating the signal that would ultimately send him home.

Simon Says:

The classic memory game we all used to train our brain!

Slip N Slide:

Every backyard needed this. It's amazing how fun and easy it was to slide around. I tried this like ten years ago and it was painful as hell. Apparently, I no longer have any traction, not to mention the experience is quite different when you are a flimsy little kid than when you have some real weight on you.

The Pogo ball (pal of the pogo stick):

I still have a picture of my granpda jumping around the house on this.

Lazer Tag!

In the 80s, nothing said cool quite like a robot. That said, I had a few:

This is Crackbot. Considering his name, he really wasn't terribly active...

My favorite weapon, the Sword of Thundera (Thundercats!):

Yes, the 'eye' did light up.

As a spoiled kid and Thundercat lover, I did have the castle, figures, and even tank:

I wish I still had it, it's worth a pretty penny now ;p

Teddy Ruxbin:

Only the cool kids had one of these. You put a tape in his back and he would talk to you and tell you stories.

Collecting and trading Garbage Pail Kids was essential:


Must have Carla pieces:

Reebok Pumps:

You pumped up the little red ball and your shoes would tighten around your feet. Very Back To The Future 2. Sort of.

Generra Hypercolor shirt:

You should look up the history of these bad boys and why they disappeared, it's pretty hilarious. These flashy little numbers changed color when exposed to heat. Handprints and the blowdryer could create wearable art!


My favorite childhood movie was Ewoks: Battle for Endor (I loved Wicket!):

The 80s was an amazing time for filmmaking (go Spielberg!). Here are a few favorite films/folks:

The Goonies (this tends to be an 80s favorite, newer generations don't seem to like it much):

Adventures in Babysitting ("Don't f!ck with the Babysitter!):


The Neverending Story:

Karate Kid: Who didn't love Mr. Miyagi?

Scariest flick:


While Freddy Kreuger and his nails terrorized every 80s kid's nightmares, Poltergeist was my poison. This 'PG' Spielberg movie was the most traumatic thing I laid eyes on and is responsible for my lifelong fear of clowns. (I'm still trying to figure out how a movie featuring spirits, a man ripping his face off, a toy that strangles children, profanity, and pot-smoking parents got a PG rating. Granted, they were just figuring out the ratings system, but I am clearly not the only one permanently messed up because of this film as I've met others. I'm sure Spielberg's influence went a long way...)

The Wizard:

In the 80s, Fred Savage could do no wrong. The Wonder Years, The Princess Bride... we watched it all. By today's standards this movie is hideous, but as a Nintendo-obsessed child, I was blown away at a sneak peak of...gasp... Super Mario 3! This movie goes down as one of the greatest product promotion films known to man. (I'll always remember Lucas, the villain, acting tough discussing what made him so cool "It's the power glove. It's SO bad.")

And one of the all-time faves:

Sixteen Candles:

Who didn't love Molly Ringwald in the 80s?! She was to our time period what Claire Danes was to the 90s, i.e. the girl next door type we couldn't get enough of. This was certainly not the most politically correct film of its time, but rememinded us why we loved (and feared) our grandparents, were amused by the school nerd, were annoyed by our siblings, and frankly, what the most romantic 80s movie ending could be.


Talking 80s movies, we could be here all day. I still can't stop watching Purple Rain.

And a few 90s gems:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

Who didn't love their TMNT?!

Free Willy (one of the most heart-breaking kids movies - and powerful enough to spawn a world-wide movement!):

Home Alone (Macaulay Culkin = my childhood dream!)

As much as I loved Mac, I wanted to marry Jonathan Brandis when I grew up:

What girl in the early 90s didn't?! RIP, Jon.

I also wanted to marry George Michael. 'Faith' was the first tape I ever purchased, 'Father Figure' was my favorite childhood song. Kind of deep for a kid, really.

Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' changed my life:

Michael was awesome, as always. RIP.

And the first CD I ever purchased was:

Boys II Men: Cooleyhighharmony

As a very small child, we owned an Atari 2600, which introduced me to Pac Man, Qbert, and other classic games. (Remember E.T.?)

Pac Man is still one of my all-time favorite games:

The coolest Christmas gift I recall getting as a child was the much-hyped Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It spawned obsessive all-day gaming. Ours came with the Power Pad (a precursor to the Dance Dance Revolution games).

My all-time video game character and theme song:

The Legend of Zelda

I never did figure out how to play it, but I don't want to. I love wandering around the forest tossing boomerangs and rocking out to the song.

T&C Surf Designs:

Super Mario 2:

I was a Mario Bros whiz kid and dreamed of going to the Nintendo Championships like in The Wizard (turns out they didn't even exist. What a rip-off!). I could beat all the Mario games, but I must say I have a soft spot for the second, simply because it is so off-the-wall. I wonder what the creators were smoking that day...

The original Super Mario goombas were my favorite:

I was always a Nintendo gal, and never went the Sega way. My next game system purchase was the Turbo Grafx 16. It was a really impressive game system with awesome graphics for the time, however it wasn't a huge success due to the fact that it was a single player system.

It did give us the amazing Bonk's Revenge, one of the neatest video games ever!

Afterwards, I went back to the Super Nintendo 2 where I indulged in Yoshi and more:

Act Raiser:

Super Castlevania IV:

And lastly, my favorite place to go in the 1980s was Epcot Center (now known as Epcot). The current incarnation doesn't hold a candle to it's retro version.

Epcot Center had amazing symbols denoting different rides and portions of the Disney park. Who could forget The Living Seas, Communicore, Horizons, and best of all... the original Journey Into Imagination ride with Dreamfinder and Figment?!

Figment remains my all-time charicature, Disney or otherwise.

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better time period to grow up in. I hope future generations will live in a time remotely as radical ;p


Jim said...

That was one of the coolest blogs ever. I remember all that stuff.

Very cool.

payrclt said...

Thankyou for the memories! This was great to read through. RIP Jonathon (he was my first teen crush and sooo gorgeous!) and MJ (one of the greatest musicians or all time)

Shannon said...

My husband and I, both 80s kids, sat here and read this entire post! I loved this post and we agreed with so much. One thing that I would NEVER leave out is the Smurfs. Can't have a dose of the 80s without the Smurfs. I really did enjoy this post tremendously. It takes us back.....way back!

Anonymous said...

I knew I was missing something. Yes, the 80s cartoon line-up! The Thundercats, Smurfs, and Gummy Bears were essential (and, the only reason I'd wake up early on a Saturday morning).

Christina said...

i just came across your blog when looking for 80s pictures of epcot. Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

80s Epcot is the best! Thanks, Christina!