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“So many of our greatest moviegoing experiences were actually experienced in our house, on VHS,” said Matt Duffer.“These were the films that were on our shelves, that we would watch … Those guys exude confidence and those are the guys that I grew up watching.” There’s one final theory that accounts for this, and it’s one I like to call the Gen-Xers’ Revenge.Granted, there’s still a certain amount of reminiscing while LOLing that goes on, especially on shows like , which thrives on digging up artifacts from your childhood rec room.
A pop-punk remake of “The Boys of Summer” was even a hit in 2003; to make that fact even more ‘80s, it was recorded by a band called The Ataris. The number of ‘80s revivalist movies or reboots released that year — Hot Tub Time Machine, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Karate Kid, Tron: Legacy, Clash of the Titans, The A-Team — provided the evidence of oversaturation. T.-like fingers still seem to be touching almost every form of popular entertainment.
An article in the Certainly a fair amount of ‘90s nostalgia has taken hold during the 2010s, as Fresh Off the Boat, Fuller House, the promise of Clueless coming to Broadway, renewed interest in the O. Simpson case, and the triumphant return of the choker can attest, not to mention practically every Buzz Feed listicle ever written. Look at TV, where The Americans, Red Oaks, Halt and Catch Fire, The Goldbergs, Deutschland 83, Stranger Things, and the strongest episode of Black Mirror season three, the 1987-set “San Junipero,” all take us back to the time of the Back to the Future trilogy. Robot, which often references the era, or current and in-development TV reboots like Mac Gyver, Lethal Weapon, Magnum, P.
(Billboard recently called that track “Stranger Things in single form.” So put your pinky rings up to the moon for Barb, y’all.) Why are the ‘80s so inescapable, still, after all this time?
There are some practical reasons as well as some theories that may explain it. What we see on our screens and hear through our earbuds is dictated in large part by what inspired the creators and individuals who support their visions, many of whom are in their 30s, 40s, and early 50s and may have a particular affinity for this time period.
But while we’ve been busy being demographically overlooked and zooming toward middle age, a lot of us have been introducing our children (or younger siblings, nieces, and nephews) to the same prized pop-cultural possessions that populated our childhoods: E. Again, digital advancements have made it possible for us to show our kids anything we loved back in the third grade in an instant, with a quick click or mere finger swipe. The ‘80s still matter because, either directly or indirectly, we feel culturally connected to the decade.
That’s something our parents, who could needle drop on a Chuck Berry record or set the VHS timer to record an old movie they loved in the ‘50s, could only do for us to a much more limited extent. Sure, the time period offers an escape, either to fond memories of one’s youth or to the last full decade before the internet staged a coup on our attention spans.
Indie and art-house movies (Donnie Darko, The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland) as well as mainstream blockbusters (Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Watchmen) hearkened back to the era.
TV shows like Freaks and Geeks, showing up a tad early to the party in 1999, the inevitable That ‘80s Show, and Everybody Hates Chris flashed back to what, in the new millennium, now qualified as the wonder years.
The first one, in which Michiko Kakutani argued that nostalgia for the 1980s had fully infiltrated American culture, was published in April of 2001.
The second took note of the revival of the dawn-of-MTV decade, particularly within the world of music, just a year later, in 2002.