There has never been, nor ever will be a time like the 80’s. There, I said it.
How is it I can make such a bold statement? Well, besides this being my blog and what I say goes, there was a simplicity to the 80’s that’s long gone. And since my childhood activities consisted of TV and movies, I’ll be sticking to that for my analysis.
Now when I use the word simple, I’m not referring to the storytelling. In fact, you could argue that it was HARDER to tell a good story back then. (Hehe “back then”. I’m an old fogey.) Remember how cool it was to see Jurassic Park because of the wicked effects? Even though there were precursors in stuff like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park was the game changer. Remember all the effects heavy movies AFTER Jurassic Park? Me neither. The focus shifted from dazzling our minds, to our eyes.
There was none of that in the 80’s. Yes there were special effects, but an entire movie couldn’t be carried by them. The most elaborate effect in The Terminator was the sequence where the machine was walking without its Arnold suit. The rest of the movie was all character interaction where some of the most memorable scenes are the talking ones.
“Listen, and UNDERSTAND! That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, EVER, until you are dead.”
Raise your hand if you’ve got the urge to re-watch.
Those characters were full of life because without them, there was no story. Nothing to fall back on. Here are a few random titles:
Back to the Future
The Breakfast Club
If you’ve seen any of those at least once, you’re mind just exploded with memorable lines and scenes. That doesn’t happen as much when I see movies now. I still see good movies, but they’re not like the 80’s.
And what about the music?
Pretty much every movie had a memorable sound track, with actual songs written for the movie. And if there wasn’t a song, the music was recognizable enough to be associated with a specific film. “The Power of Love”, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, “Ghostbusters”, all commercial hits in their own right and working to propel these movies to be more than just movies.
On to TV.
Basically the same concept as movies except these larger than life characters had weekly adventures. A-Team, Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, I remember almost none of the episodes (Not a dig on their content, but on my fish like memory.) because it’s been years since I’ve seen them, but the characters are vivid as ever. This was also the home of the the two-parter.
All season every episode was self-contained until one came along so huge, it had to be broken in two. These two-parters REQUIRED you to know what happened the week before and didn’t resolve the cliffhanger in the first five minutes of part two. This was before internet, cell phones and the myriad of other distractions we have today. This was what you talked about all week until part two because there was no waiting for the DVD or saving it on your DVR. If you missed it, you better hoped you caught the rerun in the summer. And people still like a good two-parter today as evidenced by the huge ratings of last season’s Castle two-parter.
Besides the prime time stuff, I watched a bunch of cartoons and weird as it may be, I identified more with a man-cat like Lion-O, than what’s on today. I don’t think I’ve grown out of cartoons because I still like watching those old ones. It’s more that the conflict’s been sucked out of everything.
Exibit A: Transformers. Autobots at war with the Decepticons who are trying to steal the earth’s energy. Action-packed.
Exibit B: Transformers reboot. Autobots at war with the Decepticons who are trying to collect all the microcons scattered around the earth? WTF? COLLECT? Does that make any sense? What happened to the conflict? Please bring it back! My young mind can handle it, I swear!
So here we are in 2011 and in the past few years there’s been a resurgence to the 80’s. TV shows like Psych are clearly written by 80’s lovers with all the references they throw in. The recent Expendables tried to recapture the glory days of 80’s action. Hot Tub Time Machine. The most ridiculous name for a movie designed so it could take place in the 80’s.
In the 80’s, character was king. They stole the show, our hearts and we never forgot them. If I can somehow infuse that into my storytelling, I’ll have given my favorite time the best tribute.
So . . . agree, disagree? Something I missed? I different era that spoke to you like the 80’s did for me? Make your voice heard!
Info Stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and for the month of February, Tuesdays and Thursdays will be devoted to my Love series. Eight loves that have shaped me into the writer I am.
Also if you missed Amy Rose Davis‘s guest post, give it a click and learn why she loves fantasy so much.
And tomorrow, February 11th, I’m being interviewed by Draven Ames on his blog.