Do you ever feel like we're moving backwards as a society? I argued in a recent column that you could make the case that we've somewhat reverted to the Dark Ages. I understand that's a tough sell. At the very least, though, you have to admit it does seem like we've regressed a couple of decades. Specifically, we've returned to the 1980s. We talk about it on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comics Jeff May and Danny Jolles. It's also what I'm talking about right damn here today. Go figure! Up first, we'll start in the most obvious place possible.
5Movie And TV Franchises From The '80s Are Hollywood's Favorite Thing To Remake
You don't need me to tell you that the '80s are one of the biggest influences on movies and television right now. You could just watch movies and/or television to find all the proof you need. The most recent Reagan-era franchise to make a triumphant return to the modern world is Ghostbusters. If you never saw the original ...
... you probably still recognize the name from the insane amount of controversy that surrounded the trailer for the upcoming reboot.
That controversy, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, mostly just boils down to the fact that there's an all-female cast this time around. Like I said, we're moving backwards.
Anyway, that's certainly not the only '80s franchise that's suddenly sprung back to life. Netflix has been especially active in the nostalgia department recently. They finally blessed the world with the Full House reunion we all hoped we'd see someday.
"We" meaning people who haven't worked since Full House got cancelled.
They also brought the Pee-Wee Herman comeback full circle with the surprisingly excellent Pee-Wee's Big Holiday.
You know what's wrong with that? Not a goddamn thing. Pee-Wee Herman is great, and I don't want to live in an America where a career can be derailed by getting caught masturbating in a porn theater. Side note -- if that Netflix movie served as your introduction to the Pee-Wee Herman universe, ignore everything I just said and go watch Pee-Wee's Big Adventure instead. I know that setup makes it seem like that movie is about him jerking off in an adult theater, but it's not. It's an adorable movie classic everyone should see.
Anyway, this is a trend we've known was coming for a while now, as evidenced by this 2014 list of upcoming (at the time) movie reboots. Of the 20 movies on that list, 12 are '80s remakes. Another four are remakes of movies that came out in 1990 or 1991, which is pretty damn close. That list is now a few years old, and the reboots included are in various states of development ...
Rest easy knowing this pile of garbage got made, at least.
... but that doesn't mean the list was any less of a forecast of what was to come in movies over the next few years.
Movies and television aren't the only areas of entertainment that have been impacted by our newfound fascination with the '80s, though.
4Popular Music Has Been An '80s Pop Revival For Years Now
Movies may just now be catching up to the "Let's recycle everything from the '80s" aesthetic, but the music industry has had it down for years now. Around the turn of the millennium, acts like Daft Punk made the kind of music you'd hear in the background of '80s movies set in dystopian futures palatable for the mainstream. They're so good at it, in fact, that the entire soundtrack to the remake of the Disney sci-fi classic Tron is just a Daft Punk album.
It's also worth noting that Lady Gaga, one of the biggest pop stars of today, just up and released a Madonna song back in 2011 as if no one would even notice.
Given how much Madonna has stolen in her career, this is the definition of a victimless crime.
It seemed like a trend at first, but by the time 2010 rolled around, The Guardian was writing about how the '80s revival dominated the decade. The inspiration for the article came to the writer after seeing a band called Tigercity as the opening act at a show they attended.
Horses are awesome in any decade.
Indeed, that song is '80s as fuck. However, the article ends by questioning if the fascination with '80s music would be coming to an end soon, theorizing that every decade has its own inspiration twin, like how music from the '50s all of the sudden became popular again in the '70s.
Well, it's now 2016, and if you pay even a moderate amount of attention to modern music, you know that the '80s are still in full swing. Pop music has been leaning on sounds of that decade for a while now, but it's also completely inundated what would technically be referred to as the "indie rock" world as well. Case in point: Remember Sub Pop Records? That's the label that launched the careers of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and countless other "grunge" acts of the '90s. One of their most successful acts in recent years has been a rock band called Dum Dum Girls ...
... whom you may note from the above video already sound quite a lot like beloved '80s girl group The Go-Gos's.
That said, it's a new project from Dum Dum Girls leader Kristin Welchez that really drives home just how much '80s dance music has taken over the indie rock scene. She's recording under the name Kristin Kontrol, and if the first single is any indication ...
... we should expect the final product to sound a lot like an early Madonna album.
That's not a bad thing, and I certainly don't mean to single this one band out. I'd count myself as a fan of all of the songs I've mentioned above; they just all happen to make for good examples of what I'm getting at. I'm not saying any of this is bad at all. I'm just saying that I grew up in the '80s, so it sometimes feels like I've heard it all before.