totally gnarly”…I mean “tubular” year that let us know that Michael Jackson was
“not like other guys”…introduced us to Tony Montana’s (Al Pacino) “little
friend”…finally let us know that it was ok to be black and Miss America but not
ok to get naked for Bob Guccione at the same time. There were those who just had
to “adopt” the latest dolly…those who begged us to “Just Say No”…and those who
simply wanted to be “gagged with a spoon”. 1983 also helped us to finally bury
the disco, I mean Travolta’s Stayin’ Alive was the coffin’s final nail…No? Disco
R.I.P. We made fun of the preppie, gave up the 3D movie, cross-dressed on TV,
started falling for Madonna…and her publicity stunts, and all the while we had
the pleasure of looking down the road to what some thought might be the future
according to George Orwell, 1984.
The flicks…well, we have The Outsiders with a studded little cast that included a few that managed to stick around for a while…Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, and of course Tom Cruise…who later that same year would be asked to kindly “get off the babysitter” in Risky Business. Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd did a little insider trading all in the name of revenge in Trading Places. The Monty Python questioned the Meaning of Life. Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold took his family on Vacation, and he may just have inspired the coming of Homer Simpson…on that note, it was Tony Montana, aka. Scarface, who taught us how to really shoot people, snort mountains of coke, and say the “F” word 204 times in 90 minutes…drugs, guns, and money, oh yeah. But it was Jennifer Beals who Flash Danced her way into the hearts of millions of young would-be dancers. It must have been “More Than A Feeling” because suddenly it seemed that everybody had to have the leg warmers, the headband, the torn sweatshirt. Despite all this, however, it was Terms Of Endearment that went home with the Oscar. By the way, Jack Nicholson still rules.
The tunes…oh the tunes. Where do we start? There are the obvious records: Thriller, Pyromania, Karma Chameleon, 1999, Synchronicity, Rio by the big stars of the day. But there was also a little record called War by U2, a little bit bigger record called Cargo by Men At Work, and an even bigger record called IV by Toto. But then there were the one-hit wonders…Men Without Hats, Kajagoogoo, Eddy Grant, Bonnie Tyler, Dexys Midnight Runners. There was rock, pop, new wave, crap…but it was all part of the soundtrack to 1983 and we love to hear it now…even if we hated it back then.
But let’s not forget the things we could buy at the time. We were finally treated to the digital age according to SONY…CDs were introduced and vinyl all but went away…after all CDs were small, cool, and shiny. Camcorders also came of age so that people could finally start documenting all the interesting moments of their lives…birthdays, weddings, graduations, airplane crashes, babysitters shaking the baby, etc. You just know that Bob Saget could not wait. Oh and let’s not forget those crazy people who waited in lines to buy…uh adopt…the Cabbage Patch Kid. I mean what the…? And speaking of inane…what about the Hacky Sack. Please. However, everybody loved those sticky soft rubber octopuses aptly known as Wacky Wall Walkers. Hours and hours of endless fun.
T.V.? You’ve got your Knight Rider, A-Team, Diff’rent Strokes, and The Day After, and we’re not talking about a one-night stand. This was the made-for-TV movie about the happy topic of a post-nuclear holocaust world. Advertisers didn’t advertise. People flocked to their TVs by the millions. And President Reagan provided the post-show commentary reassuring America that “it was not real.” One show Reagan did like, however, was Family Ties. Alex P. Keaton was an unwitting spokesman for the Republican youth…what’s not to like? Nancy Reagan, on the other hand, was all about making sure that Arnold and Willis just said no…”whachu talkin’ ‘bout…Nancy?” There was the Cold War, the beginnings of the war on drugs, the talking cars, and crime fighting criminals, all this and more. So what about the kids? Well…we had He-Man and the power of Greyskull…we had Rainbow Brite…we had Alvin and the Chipmunks. They all came to feed the imaginations and enrich the fantasy lives of the junior set thereby priming them for the second coming of the computer age and all of it’s hand held splendor.
Nothing was the same after 1983…Madonna was here to stay, the compact disc began it world-wide domination, the internet was on its way to truly becoming a household name, if not just a really good place to entertain oneself, Luke Skywalker became a Jedi Knight…and the average attention span of the average human being got that much shorter.