Have the 80s Replaced the 50s?

mvuent

Void Dweller
the magic, innocent childhood years; a time of all-american values and rebellious teenagers; hopelessly corny in an endearing way; yet, paradoxically, when music as we know it was invented; and when the future as we know it was invented.

that's not how the 80s really were, obviously. but it seems like the 50s are now, finally, too far gone to evoke those qualities for most "creative" / pop culture-influencing people. so over the past 5-10 years (at least) there's been a cultural shift in terms of what the good old days are perceived to be.

i thought a ton of people had to have written about this, but when i googled it, this was the first thing that came up. can't remember it being brought up directly here. the closest i can think of is this thread which never directly touches on it.

just curious about the extent to which this is a shared feeling.
 
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version

Who loves ya, baby?
I think so, but it's difficult to tell what's actually happening and what's confirmation bias. Also it's very much wealthy 80s America with music, film and whatnot from other places as well. It's not the 80s as a whole. I don't see much of say Northern England in it. Just the glamorous bits.
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
I think so, but it's difficult to tell what's actually happening and what's confirmation bias.
i'm 100% sure it's more than that. trust me, my high school speech was about confirmation bias. (all i remember is that i embarassingly used the word "platitudinous" in a fucking speech in front of my peers. :cool:) some boomers are still reminiscing about the 50s, of course. but as the author of that medium article i linked to puts it:

The 50s were nearly 70 years ago. *gasp

It's like the 1910s to us. That is Titanic and first flights people. It's insane to think about.
so maybe the 50s are still referenced but have moved into deeper recesses of US and UK cultural memory.


i do think this view of the 80s sometimes extends past affluent society as well. like with 80s b boy culture.

for me there's something quite moving about the juxtaposition of the settings, which are bleak and almost warzone-like in places, with the vibrant and futuristic music. or like how luka has to stop what he's doing and cry for 5 hours whenever he sees that video of breakdancers in london. so it's another case where the 80s are viewed as halcyon days, i think, by a lot of people. at least on some visceral level. obviously in reality reagan's war on drugs was starting around this time, etc.
 
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mvuent

Void Dweller
should have made this a poll. at least i know version and catalog buy the thesis to some degree
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
https://www.theretrospekt.com/article/why-millenials-love-the-80s-even-if-we-never-lived-it

Because let's be real! The 80's seemed to be a dreamy time. We imagine grainy visions of prom night in an American public school, we imagine the melodramatic fantasies of the Cold War and the Space Age and the endearing possibility of life outside Earth, we imagine a typical teenager's life with a soundtrack so kick-ass that the Beatles AND The Smiths find themselves in it. It can't get better than that, can it?
apart from the bands mentioned, this could apply verbatim to the 50s
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Perhaps in the wider culture - certainly 80s sounds are very in vogue. And certainly I've come to view the 80s much more positively over the years - I remember there was a time when it all seemed horribly tasteless and embarrassing, even leaving aside the Thatcher/Reagan stuff (which I'd have been ignorant of at the time anyway). Now it seems more and more hip.

Speaking personally, the 90s seems far more like a decade of relative innocence, prosperity and positivity than the 80s. That Chicago Bulls documentary has brought that to the forefront of my mind. It's all mixed up with childhood nostalgia, ofc, but you can definitely hear in 90s music that there was 'something in the air' ? the apparent end of the cold war, the economic boom, the rave scene, the temporary end of Tory rule...

It's tempting to see historical cycles - in which case, if the 80s was the 50s, the 90s was the 60s, the 00s was the 70s (the return of the 'me' decade, disillusionment, depression, a hugely unpopular foreign war, etc.), the 10s was the 80s (lolll) and we're heading into the 90s again. Phew!
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I think Corpsey - incurable Romantic that he is - never really left the 90s.

The 1790s, that is. :cool:
 

hucks

Your Message Here
I?m reading Generation X at the moment and was thinking something along these lines then I realised that the 90s are to now what the 60s were to the 80s. A decade that cast a massive cultural shadow and was also the last time anyone had it good.

So yeah the 80s can be the 50s in this cos they?re the preceding decades. Stranger Things uses the 80s like the 50s in an old b movie. Also I was watching Tales From the Loop and that has a weird hauntological/ sci fi 80s thing going on.

Wow no one says hauntological on here any more I bet. Was every other post back in the day.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Wow no one says hauntological on here any more I bet. Was every other post back in the day.
A ghost is haunting Dissensus - the ghost of hauntology...

I think the 50s/80s comparison is sound, and even the matching comparison of the decades that followed - not least because the 30-year cycle is more or less a generation. Is there a case to be made, do you think, that the people in the 80s saw it as in some respects a recapitulation of the 50s, even at the time? Certainly in terms of women's fashion - hair got big again, waists got cinched again, everything got very fitted after the loose-and-flowing later 60s and 70s. A general swing back of the ideological pendulum towards the right, towards 'family values' and so on (even as neoliberal economics undid those values more surely than any amount of weed and free love had done a decade or so earlier) - never mind that the top rate of income tax in both the UK and USA was 90 percent or so in the 50s, I mean can you even imagine?

Can you also make a case for another cycle, a century long one? Consider massive economic disruption (in the recent past, and with far worse to come, probably), one dominant superpower on the wane (Britain in those days, America now), another in the ascendant (Russia/USSR then, China now), the populist Right on the march pretty much wherever you look - I mean all this was true even before there was a global pandemic, which is the icing on the cake really.

I always liked the way Blade Runner made the 2020s look a bit like the 1920s. (OK, so it's actually set in 2019, but allow it).
 
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entertainment

Well-known member
Speaking of decades having distinct spirits, attitude and aethetics, have the 00's and 10's been as categorical as the 80's and 90's?

Have these distinguishing core ideas been atomised? I can't tell for real because I'm too young.
 

entertainment

Well-known member
When I think of the 00's, I think The Wire, Sopranos, Social Media emerging, pop songs with populist rap features. I think of a bit o cynical anti-moralism in popular media. South Park. Making fun of feminists, vegans, anyone who took their morals seriously (10's were different like that).

But it's not really tied up in a unifiying vision. Maybe the 10's have a more unified zeitgeist, being anxiety and hoplessness. Any positive vision for the future being continuously shattered and rolling out the 20's at its zenit.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
They are both good decades for nostalgia because you had quite rigid sets of subculture happening. These can now be taken up either rigorously or ironically.

The fifties went on for a really long time musically - it's one bit that gets glossed over in the retrospectives but you had these weird teddy boy bands like Showaddywaddy and the Stray Cats appearing on top of the pops right up the 1980s. Then the more credible Cramps followed by all the wretched Psychobilly stuff.
 

Leo

Well-known member
history is cyclical. that would be a good thread.

when we were growing up, we'd think of music from 20-25 years earlier as "golden oldies". a little mind-blowing that kids today think that of Bjork, "ok computer", "urban hymns", chemical brothers, red hot chili peppers, "liquid swords", etc.
 
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