Ray Bans and remakes: the resurgence of ‘80s culture

I love the ‘80s and I’m not afraid to say it.

I listen to Guns N’ Roses, watch “The Empire Strikes Back” almost religiously and I rock high-top Nikes from time to time. I even use “rad” in everyday conversation.

For a time I thought I was alone in my love of the era I never experienced, but that appears to be far from the truth. The ‘80s has made a comeback in almost every market and our generation is eating it up and coming back for more. However, even with resurgence of everything ‘80s, our generation doesn’t care about the origin of these trends.

Our generation’s attraction to the time is purely aesthetic in nature.

Fashion of the 1980s is something we’ve made our own, even if it was never ours. For girls, it is off-shoulder tops, high-waist bottoms (most likely cut to shorts), and even those weird commando-type boots. Making this type of fashion accessible is as easy as slapping a “keep calm and…” onto it and calling it new.

For guys, the ‘80s remake seems to be something of an anti-trend. The artsy intellectual is making a comeback. Personally, I never understood the appeal of dressing like Ducky from “Sixteen Candles,” but that’s neither here nor there. Throw on a vest, skinny jeans and some wing-tip shoes and you’re set. Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses are a given regardless of gender.

Movies and television have been buying into it as well. Remaking classic flicks like “Tron,” “Total Recall” and the up-coming “Dredd 3D” are perfect examples of today’s culture embracing the larger-than-life action popular in the ‘80s.

Music isn’t exempt from either and it is more than the obvious parallels between Madonna and Lady Gaga. Electronic music (not dubstep) is gaining momentum among local scenes today with a rise in the use of synthesizers and other electronic devices in place of physical instruments and modulated vocal effects. Again, while this genre is on the rise today, its heyday was in the ‘80s with hits like “I Ran” and “Blue Monday.” Bands are even releasing vinyl records again and vinyls are becoming just as expected as an album appearing on iTunes.

But even as our culture gets hooked on everything cool 30 years ago, I still am not convinced that anyone really appreciates the humble beginnings of what we currently find in vogue. This resurgence wouldn’t have happened if not for all of today’s technologies.

Whether it is Pandora mixing in artists we otherwise wouldn’t have listened to or going to see “Tron: Legacy” to listen to the Daft Punk soundtrack and stare at Olivia Wilde, the 1980s are alive and well today — even if we don’t realize it.

 

Reach the columnist schergos@asu.edu or follow him at @ShawnChergorsky.


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