Escape From The Eighties


Suggested Audio Candy


[1] Gary Numan & Tubeway Army “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”

[2] Depeche Mode “New Life”


I make no secret of the fact that I was an eighties child. Back then the decade was seen as one almighty wash-out suffering from a dearth of creativity but, being the great healer that it is, time patched it back up again and now it is seen as an epoch of great majesty. Everything was so different then; there were no iPhones or Kindles, no Google to bail us out when we were in a fix. However, technology was very much on the rise and innovation was everywhere you looked.


Keeper reached his first significant milestone around the mid-eighties; adolescence was a bittersweet affair as it coincided with me receiving inside information that Santa Claus was but a figment of my imagination. This concerned me no end as I now had to figure out who the bearded heathen was loitering at the foot of my bed every December 24th, emptying his sack on my Spiderman rug. Thankfully, masturbation gave me something else to think about and I took to my tool like a dog with a bone, wrestling it for dear life as I attempted all manner of choke holds while my mother pressed my school trousers in the very next room blissfully unaware. Gentlemen, I’m assured that you all know of the danger wank.


It was a colorful decade for sure. Bangles and leg warmers, hair lacquer and war paints, everyone bought into these symbols of individuality to such a degree that ironically we all ended up looking identical. Basketball sneakers boasted tongues a space invader would gladly take refuge behind and those seventies Afros became fashioned into high top fades or braided with fluorescent beads and the like. As one can imagine, for a young boy on the cusp of puberty, I was seduced by the neon revolution as it coincided with me making the first of life’s great transitions.


My thighs began to fill out; suddenly I no longer resembled a life-sized Q-tip and this ugly duckling commenced its metamorphosis into a misfiring cygnet. I always felt like I had something to say but hadn’t yet discovered my true voice. Life would be required to rough me up a little before my true special purpose became clear and I felt my way around in the dark like Stevie Wonder in a dimly-lit xylophone factory. Although the eighties were never destined to offer clarity to the grand scheme of things; there was no denying that they were something of a rip-roaring rollercoaster ride.


Horror was enjoying something of a resurgence and the slasher phenomenon, in particular, was beginning to gain particular momentum. Obviously this boom was met with resistance from those not down with the creative revolution and video nasties bore the brunt of disgruntled parents and reactionary politicians who deemed them as the root of society’s many problems. Certain films were chastised, many needlessly so, and the free world rebelled by embracing pirate video and watching them anyway.


As we stumbled towards the tail-end of the decade; horror reached its plateau and it was only ever going to be downhill from thereon in. Freddy and Jason still managed to find work during the slump but Harry Warden and Madman Marz were sent back to the stands with their heads hung low as movie houses began to lose faith in the formula. Horror’s punishment for letting its hair down so frivolously was to be forced to endure the nineties; a dystopian wasteland of creativity which very nearly left the genre stone cold dead.


Electronica was rife and the Casio keyboard our weapon of choice. Prince offered insight into what it would feel like partying as though it were 1999 and the great technological minds of our time finally worked out how to build a robot that didn’t malfunction like Ian Holm. Johnny Five must’ve felt like the shit back then; this alloy bookworm swatted up and filled his nodes with useless data, while Arnold Schwarzenegger threw something of a hissy fit and blatantly ignored the terms of Linda Hamilton’s restraining order.


Meanwhile, while Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were engaging in a spot of incest; the wookie wasn’t getting any nookie. Chewbacca was now considered little more than a haircut waiting to happen and could only watch on in dismay as C3P0, possibly the campest cyborg ever to stumble from the assembly line, discovered that the stunted R2D2 was actually an ideal height to perform a full frag on his memory stick. I have a humongous confession to make on this front; while Darth Vader was tightening his vice-like grip around the throats of an entire generation, the force wasn’t really with this one. It’s not that I can’t see the appeal, really I can, but it was all a bit PG-13 for me. X marked the spot you see.


Fast forward thirty years and we find ourselves at a similar point of the next cycle. Technology has continued to flourish during the interim but we have been required to travel full circle before reaching another apex. The decade started strong but simple deduction suggests that it will end with a far greater flurry. Horror has been building up a head of steam after a slump stretching back to the days when Paulie the Penis received an eyeful of soap for his voyeuristic troubles. New talent is emerging and we will soon see the fruition of a genre in mid-transformation.


Why the fuck shouldn’t a horror film garner an Oscar? We’ve grown up now; eaten our spinach. None of us wish for a repeat performance of the nineties and that is why it is the people who are taking the power back. Some things just mature with age and our minds are not restricted by it, merely enhanced. Those of us who pursued a career as catwalk models or quarterbacks will know only too well about shelf life. Being a scribe affords you the opportunity of drawing from life lessons and using them to attain wingspan. While Naomi Campbell is nursing bunions; we’re as fit as a fiddle in the one place it truly counts.


I owe the eighties a tremendous debt of gratitude. They made me the man I am now; blinded me with science and titillated my senses at every turn. However, I have no inclination to return there funnily enough. I think that finally, after years of stroking my chin pensively, I have sussed out that I will always have my rose-tinted spectacles should I need them but maybe now is the time for me to take a look at the world through a fresh set of bifocals. Leaving them behind may seem like a somewhat bittersweet affair but they will always be there waving at us with lace gloves and neon fingertips.


Ours is an exciting new age; brimming with opportunity, a brave new world for the terraforming. Even Star Wars is making a comeback which means maybe I can finally work out which end of the light saber I’m supposed to be gripping. As for the nineties? Who am I to say they sucked? One man’s gold bullion is another’s polished turd and I’m sure, for any of you nineties children out there, there was plenty of inspiration to be gleaned from watching I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Each to their own. As for Keeper, I will leave you with this poser. If he still knew what they did last summer then that would suggest that he was sitting on the intelligence for some time. So why didn’t he do anything about it earlier? I’ll tell you why…laziness. The whole decade reeked of that.


Now I have the best of both worlds. I leapfrogged from the eighties straight over both Jonas Brothers and the laser disc to my current coordinates still clutching a fistful of fuzzy felt. I left it late to make my entrance as I wanted to make sure the Justin Bieber craze had subsided before my arrival. Thankfully, the worst of it appears to be behind us now so I’m pitching my tent right here in 2015 and readying for my expedition. There’s still five years left to make this decade one to look back on adoringly in thirty years time. Alas, I may well have been cryogenically frozen by that point but only under strict instruction that I be thawed out in 2040.


There’s no time like the present Grueheads; I say we live it up while the going’s good. It just so happens that, in 1989, I buried a time capsule filled with everything our hearts could desire should times get hard. Here’s the plan. First off I would like for you to pose for me while I break out Etch-a-Sketch. Then, we shall all listen to Dexy’s Midnight Runners until mildly nauseous; topped off with a Critters marathon on an armchair fashioned from Stickle Bricks. The eighties are dead… long live the eighties.


Click here to read How About Those Nineties






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