5 Forgotten Atrocities from '80s Pop Culture
Although I consider myself a child of the '90s because that's when I went to college and ultimately became an adult, I still lived through the '80s. I remember Michael Jackson on the radio, Dynasty on TV and Schwarzenegger in the theaters. Everyone had shoulder pads and neon purses. And questionable mothers let their sons go to elementary school graduations in leather pants.
But this is not a column about Capezio shoes, Duran Duran and Swatches. This is about the subtle horrors of the decade; the parts of the '80s that sneak back into my consciousness now and then. Not the decade's obvious atrocities, like famine in Ethiopia or the Reagan administration's slow response to the AIDS epidemic, but subtler forms of hell. Things that are so inexplicably awful they don't seem real. Forgotten things that made no damn sense.Here are the five most forgotten atrocities of the '80s.
Really dropped the ball there, Mom.
The Video to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl"A couple of months ago, I had to travel to West Virginia for business. After a long day of travel, including a rental car GPS that led me to the set of Deliverance II: The Rapening and some poor directions from an eyebrowless lady at the local Sheetz, I arrived at my hotel. If I tell you the concierge had a massive herpes blister, you won't believe me, but he totally did. Accordingly, when it came time to enjoy the state's nightlife, I made the obvious choice: double-bolting my hotel door, getting drunk and watching YouTube videos. Somehow, this process lead me to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" video, which I watched for the first time as a man. Even as a kid I knew the song was kind of an early-'60s-style throwback, but it didn't occur to me how cool that was. It certainly couldn't have been an intuitively obvious decision to sing like Frankie Valli in 1985. So kudos to you, Billy.But the video? Sweet Jesus.
The douche-chillingly hilarious solution to this height disparity is found at two minutes in:
Not as funny as Agents of Cracked.
I'll have to remember this trick next time I'm cruising for tall ladies.
Laverne & Shirley in the ArmyIn 1982, ABC had the great idea to take the then-flailing Laverne & Shirley show and make it a cartoon -- while the real show was still on the air. Sounds hard to believe, right? What if I told you that Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams actually did the voices? It's true. What if I then said the premise was Laverne and Shirley join the army just like Goldie Hawn did in Private Benjamin -- one of the biggest comedies of 1980?
And what if I finished it off by explaining that Laverne and Shirley's commanding officer was a talking pig voiced by Horshack of
"Please God, please don't let me inspire Hanna-Barbera's unholiest evil."
"Hey, Shirl, let's join the army."
"Don't Lose My Number" -- Phil CollinsLet's get some things straight about Phil Collins: He has some amazing chops as a drummer; he has the ability to sing with tremendous range and power; he's written some terrific pop songs and, most of all, I hate him because he absolutely sucks.Collins started as Genesis' drummer when they were a prog rock band fronted by Peter Gabriel instead of a synonym for "shameful disappointment." After Gabriel left, Collins became the lead singer and they continued to do some of their best work. Around 1978, Phil Collins realized he knew how to write pop songs, penning the somewhat cheesy, but still quite lovely "Follow You, Follow Me." Then the evil crept in. In a few years, he was writing solo albums, and though he wrote some excellent songs like "In the Air Tonight" and "Against All Odds," his vocals were getting more predictable, his arrangements simpler and his compositions, to use a technical musical term, more craptastic.So yes, the obvious choice is to tool on Phil for "Sussudio," which is just an absolutely miserable song. But this is a column about forgotten atrocities, and fitting the bill is "Don't Lose My Number." It should be called "Billy, Don't Lose My Number," because those are the lyrics to the chorus, but, of course, that sounds a lot like Steely Dan's
M*A*S*H, the television adaptation of the 1970 movie, was a staple of '70s television and one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time. So of course when that show came to an end in 1983 there had to be a spinoff. And like every good spinoff, it had to feature the three characters everyone cared the least about: Sherman T. Potter, Father Francis Mulcahy and Klinger. It would be like if The Simpsons had a spinoff with Principal Skinner, Milhouse and Disco Stu.
"Disco Stu doesn't do spinoffs."
AfterMASH explored these three working together in a Missouri hospital. "Wow, that sounds awful," you say. Well, not so fast! AfterMASH was developed for television by Larry Gelbart. Yes, the same Larry Gelbart who adapted M*A*S*H. The Larry Gelbart who wrote for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows. The Larry Gelbart who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Tootsie. THAT Larry Gelbart. Oh, and by the way, you'd be totally right, because Larry Gelbart aside, AfterMASH totally sucked.Here, you don't need to watch any part of the show. Just watch this poorly edited collage of varying opening credits to get the full extent of the suck.
Unfortunately, the series was canceled before the money shot.