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The 80's Children.

"80's toys - awesome as always!"

Being born in 1981, I always saw the retrospective 1970's as a downbeat period for a child to have grown up in. Sure, it had disco, Dirty Harry, and a cool collection of American rock bands, but it's difficult to escape the depressing sixties hangover feel which defines it; when a disillusioned young lost all direction, whilst wearing flared trousers and tank tops.

The 1990's I view as a more grown-up, introspective version of the 1970's; an era defined by the self-deprecation of grunge music, reality based indie flicks, paranoid conspiracy theorists, and Bill Clinton’s cigar. While a generation of incredible artistic merit, it also took itself far too serious; feeding its children a bland diet of mashed potato without any sausages, and only a glass of water for liquid refreshment. A time for thought perhaps, but leaving very little left for fun.

Of course, In their own ways all postcards of history have value, and those offended by my summaries of either, feel free to explain their awesomeness in the comments section. Nonetheless, the point of this article is to explain why, in my view, there was no better time to be young, then the middle-child of these decades; the 1980's. A decade which - while adults may view as a self-absorbed and ego-driven time; loaded in nuclear terror, greed, and riots - which primarily, it was. When it came to being a child of the 1980’s? None of this registered nor mattered, and life, absolutely rocked! For an 80's kid, everything was awesome...

Culturally, the 1980’s was an exploded rainbow; sitting across the sky with an odd kind of chaotic beauty. From this rainbow – developed through a mixture of technology and shifts in societal change, came a free-for-all in colourful, crazy, and creative expression; which I feel the depths and levels of have no equal. Muppet Babies, Dirty Dancing, Punky Brewster, The Breakfast Club, Michael Jackson, MTV, Bon Jovi, Garbage Pail Kids, Wrestlemania, Ghostbusters, Nintendo, He-Man, ET, Gummi Bears, Back To The Future, Alf, Slush Puppies, The Karate Kid, The Terminator; the list is a vast swarm of wild and wacky forms of entertainment, impossible to create in any other era. Even now when you ask anybody to define a historical centre for popular culture, they instantly say, the 80's.

"No caption needed"
Maybe it was an escape from all those grownup fears, or just a time where the world went a little bananas. Whatever the reason, in the 1980's, the more outlandish it was, the better it was received. Personally, I believe it was the result of a global conscience reacting to a time not too far but not too close to a new millennium; unsure of the future - or if they even had one, and simply deciding to throw everything in the mix; resulting in movies about men traveling through human bodies, aliens multiplying when wet, and truffle shuffles, to name a select few (and have an excuse to show a picture of Chunk from the Goonies).

And this is the beauty of being a child of the 80’s. We were creatively spoiled in an era where the only rules of expression, were that there were no rules of expression. If decades are teachers, the 1980's was the carefree janitor who took charge when the strict 1970's went on holiday; giving all the students Carte blanche over the previously locked up paint cupboards, until he returned as the 1990's and cleaned everything up. While we had the same miserable pressures the adult world pointlessly creates for itself; as much as any other decade, we also had such a wealth of vibrancy in art, culture, fashion and idea, it was an easy pleasure to lose ourselves in Thundercats, My Little Pony, or Knight Rider; and just not give a shit about Russian nukes and Wall Street Journals.

It was colourful, crazy, and the pinnacle of how ingenious popular culture can be, when it simply decides to let its hair down, throw off the shoes, and dance like a wild man on acid; without worrying about how many coins will be thrown his way. And for this, our generation are all the better for it. If the 1990’s were a grown up 1970’s, then the 1980’s were the 1960’s in stereo, while on steroids. Sometimes, getting lost in art, is not always a bad thing. Especially when you realize just how bloody awful being an adult was, during this decade. Maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on the 70's and 90's, after all...

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33 comments:

Eric Cullen said...

With all due respect, if you were born in 1981, you didn't really grow up in the 80s. I love the story though. One would need to be born in the mid 70s to be considered a true 80s kid.

Albert Anthony said...

It really depends on your definition of "growing up" I know people in their 30's that are still growing up.The title of the article does say 80's children so I would take it as being a child.If in fact you were born in the 70's you would be a teen at some point in the 80's there for having somewhat of a different sensibility of a child.I was born in '83 and consider myself a child of the 80's.I constantly talk about the music,movies and toys from the 80's and not as much of the 90's.

Aimy Rayna said...

Hear Hear!

Lee Gunnell said...

Thanks Eric. As much as I understand and appreciate your point, all I can say is that I certainly wasn't growing downwards in the 1980's! :-) I think we are both 80's kids, just on different levels due to our ages.

Lee Gunnell said...

Well written, Albert. In fact, my response to Eric is really just me stealing your words and making them sound unique to me. :-)

boo me said...

I was born in 1976 so I view my childhood as the 80's. So i do not agree with someone born in 81 as someone who is a true 80's kid more like a mixture of 80's and 90's. In 1990 you were only 9 I was 14 so my most vivid childhood memories are those set in the 1980's

boo me said...

Great blog. Love it but I agree with Eric. If you were born early 80's then by most standards you were a 90's kid. I have a brother that tells me all the time I was more a 90's kid as well and I was born in 76. I disagree with this as I was 14 when the 80's were all over. But weither we split hairs on 80's kid or not the 1980's was a magical time to be young. Miss those days :-(

boo me said...

I was born in 1976 so I view my childhood as the 80's. So i do not agree with someone born in 81 as someone who is a true 80's kid more like a mixture of 80's and 90's. In 1990 you were only 9 I was 14 so my most vivid childhood memories are those set in the 1980's

Anonymous said...

The 80's were so awesome, people are arguing over the title of "child of the 80's" lmao

Lee Gunnell said...

While I admit to having a childhood somewhat lost in both decades, the 90's didn't have Ghostbusters and the truffle shuffle. I think for me the popular culture of the 80's was of a far greater influence, purely because it was so much more creative and fun. Though on another point, as I was born in 1981 - I am technically, an 80s' kid, am I not?

Either way you are right... sure do miss those days!

Lee Gunnell said...

Welcome to the internet. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was born in 79 and I was a kid during the 80's. I graduated high school in 98. When comparing childhood memories with others of I find I remember the 80's more as part of my childhood. Even a 5 year age difference can change what people refer to as childhood. Teenage years are not really childhood. Youth yes but not childhood. Teens in the 80's were different than kids in the 80's and every decade.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1982 and I certainly refer to myself as an 80's kid... all of my favorite toys and memories were in the 80's. I would say that for a girl, about ten/eleven years old is approximately the end of "childhood", where boys start being noticed and makeup is no longer for play... It is a sad truth, but our childhood can be so much shorter but that much sweeter since it was all in the 80's. I am proud to say that my values were formed by the care bears, cabbage patch, rainbow brite, and of course the ever-present truffle shuffle.

Christine W. said...

I also was born in 1981. For me, I consider myself to be a good mix of an eighties child and a nineties. I mean heck I wasn't even a teen until the first half of the 90s. I do admit I remember more of the 90s than I do the 8th but both decades were awesome to me. How about we call those like me 8th or something since we encompass both decades to some extent?

Christine Watkins said...

Gosh darn auto correct. I said call us 89ers not 8th whatever it put.

Lee Gunnell said...

This reminds me. I have an idea that my personal morality was born from 80's cartoons and popular culture. Was thinking about writing an article on it. Anyone interested in reading that?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lee Gunnell! I hate when people say being born in the 80s doesn't make you an 80s child! How do you spend nearly a decade and not have it consider "growing up" during said decade! Just because I spent my teens in the 90s doesn't mean I didn't grow up in the 80s :)

Lee Gunnell said...

Christine - 89'ers... brilliant! :-)

Regina said...

Um, yes. I would love to read that.

Regina said...

I was born in November of 1979, and without a doubt I consider myself a child of the 80's. How can I not those are the years I turned 1-10. My best childhood memories are from the 80's. The first time I saw Dirty Dancing (my all time favorite movie), Footloose, My Little Pony, Care Bears. Light Brite, Ghostbusters, and Alf all make that list. How dare people have the audacity to say being born in the mid-seventies is when you are considered an 80's child.

Anonymous said...

i was a 79 baby too i feel like if u were born 79 thru 81 then ur a 80s kid anything after that ur a 90s baby

Roaming Foam said...

I was born in 1968 and hated the 70's what I can remember of it, the music sucked the fashion was stupid though there were some good toys. For me the 80's was so awesome! I spent part of Jr high and high school in the 80's. Best time for everything! And growing up in southern California at the beach helped! Loved the article!

Anonymous said...

Eric, you must be the one who makes all the rules of life. That has to be a tough job.

Anonymous said...

True. I was born in 76 and still feel like I barely made it as an 80s child.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. If you were born in 81, you didn't even form any real memories until 85 or 86.

Lee Gunnell said...

It's quite funny having people tell me I wasn't a child of the 80's, even though I was a child in the 80's. But more to the point, since when was this question even relevant to anything? I mean really, you belong to the generation you feel most inclined towards. Why is it so important to prove me wrong anyway?

Lee Gunnell said...

Thanks Roaming. I never had the wonders of California growing up; only urban London, but it sounds like you had a pretty awesome childhood! Thanks for the compliment. :-)

80's Forever said...

Again a great piece. For those who grew up in the 80's, all be it whether you were born in the mid to late 70s or born in the 80s, your childhood was probably one of the last innocent ones. With more strict rules, and how the social environment changed from the 90's on up, it's hard for kids to be kids. Kids now-a-days don't know the joys of childhood we did. The 80's were truly the last decade of innocence.

Lee Gunnell said...

Very good point. What with technology and all as well, while I feel children still have childhoods as such, they really do lack in innocence. I think we can all agree how lucky we were to be children of the decade, regardless of the age. By the way, if you - or anyone really, have any ideas for anything 80's related they would like me to consider writing about, let me know on my facebook page! :-)

Mandy Gielecki said...

Personally I think even if you were born in 81 you were an 80s kid. I was born in 77 and totally remember the first time I watched Mtv, saturday morning cartoons (he-man, g.i. joe, rainbow bright, etc.) Awesome hairstyles, cool clothes, the list goes on! We were all blessed to have lived through the 80s and enjoy our childhoods! The 90s ruined everything for kids.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Lee. Your broad evaluation of the 80's recognizes a lot of global issues that any young person growing up around that time (regardless of what exact year you were born) didn't have to think about. The important thing is that the 80's had a deep impact on our culture, and Lee, you did a great job explaining what made the 80's so significant.
I remember being a kid, my love affair with edgy and awe-inspiring Michael Jackson and Madonna, and the wild freedom to play and make. There was hardly any 'wrong', there were lots of laughs, and expression. Consider Garfield, Rainbow Brite, Captain Planet, TMNT, Masters of the Universe, Muppet Babies, Looney Tunes...kids shows that were just fun without eluding to educational motives. There was an energy and explosive ambition in the art world - and fashion world. And in football - the touchdown dances (perhaps inspired by Michael Jackson). All of which, found their ways into our lives and homes and motivated us to have imaginations and laugh - things anyone from any decade can recognize and appreciate.

jason c said...

Alright I was born in 1978 and turned 13 in 1991 I consider myself an 80s child. I remember all the arcade games, and I played on an atari 2600, and intellivisioon 1 and 2. Most of the apps on my ipad, and a good bit of my pandora channels are geared towards the 80s. I remember when Thriller first aired on MTV. Teenagers are not children remember how insulted you were as a teen if someone said you were a child. Now as far as those born in the early 80s I have a brother born in 81, and he is what I would refer to as a pseudo 80s child. He remembers the late 80s but not much else. He doesn't remember seeing movies like ET, The Gremlins, Rambo, or Return of The Jedi in the movie theater, but he does have a touch of the 80s in him especially when it comes to things like WWF wrestling. All this being said I think the real focus on what makes most of us 80s kids is we were the last of GenX which according to some experts ended in 81. Honestly I don't think you can even consider yourself an 80s kid unless you fit this distinction first and were not a high school graduate by 91. If anyone wants to relive some memories check out 80s commercial vault on youtube it has brought back a lot of great memories for me. Also if any of you are fans of that 70s show check out the episodes the forgotten son, and red and Stacy. Both have scenes where you can see the intellivision 2 which did not come out until 1982. So you see that's how much the 80s rock that a show about the 70s had to use product from 80s(yes I know it was probably just an oversight, but the original intellivision didn't even officially hit the shelves nationwide until 1980.

Lee Gunnell said...

It saddens me so how many people missed this article's main point, and focused on an entirely pointless one. Who cares whether I am an '80's kids' or not. The reality is I was a child back then, and was unaware of how shitty life as an adult was at the time.

Thanks to all those who got the point I wrote about.