Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Amy,

Saturday, January 8, 2011 01:10:47 PM

Dear Amy,

I have been enjoying reading your blog. It is good to have a place to verbally blow off steam. That said, I was struck by this entry:

You have the wartime periods: historical, renowned, proud. The 60's, introducing The Beatles and a soar of actually half-decent movies. The 70's - far out man, one-way ticket to hippyville and sticking it to "the man". The 80's, by far the best time of all; brilliant tunes and, most importantly of all, the birth of Die Hard.*

Your summation of the past fifty years in a handful of lines put a smile on my face. However, I feel I need to challenge you abourt your view of the 1980s, especially the music part.

To me, the eighties were not a blissful time of charity and togetherness, with people skipping around in their mullets, whistling “Ebony and Ivory” while holding hands to form a giant circle of love.

To me, the 1980's blew.

I graduated from high school, left home for college (Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where I am currently living.) Then I struck out on my own and began discovering what it meant to be an adult, which at that time meant figuring out how much of my tiny paycheck was to go for bills and how much was to go for "entertainment."  There was plenty of experimentation (sex and drugs), plenty of folly (see previous), and little actual maturity or growth. One of the most important things I learned was this: Just because it seems like a good idea at the time doesn't mean it will still be a good idea after I sober up.

Jello Biafra, singer for the San Francisco based punk band The Dead Kennedys accused the music industry of seeking to produce “lowest common denominator rock”  and I agree.  The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the eighties is how awful the music was. Most popular music was a mixture of computerized rhythm, synthesized instruments and the absolute nadir of lyrical shallowness. The sound of the music was extremely homogeneous. There was very little unique or original in this type of music because it was targeted towards mainstream appeal.

A quick look at Wikipedia reveals the most popular music acts of the decade were Madonna and Michael Jackson.  And Madonna isn't even an musician, she is a personality. She achieved fame from the notoriety of her appearance and her (for the time) outspoken attitudes about sex, not her singing ability.

The 1980s saw the problematic rise in popularity of “alternative rock.” A popular alternative to anything  is an oxymoron. How can something be alternative and mainstream at the same time?

Another contributor to the suckiness of eighties music was the introduction of the popular, and influential Music Television Network, known as MTV. MTV was an entire network, broadcasting 24 hours via cable, devoted to popular music videos. The music became secondary to a band's appearance and attire once it was discovered how effective MTV would have on influencing young adults clothing  and music choices.  In short, music became more about marketing rather than producing a quality ditty that would last for the ages.

This unfortunately led to a lot of really bad fashion choices for people in my age bracket. Big, teased hair, mullets, skinny neckties, shoulder pads for women and men are some of the decades's worst fashion offenses.  And yet they were staples of typical 20 something attire.

After MTV their makeover
Before MTV
Check out these before and after photos of Detroit band The Romantics. The Romantics had one fairly big hit single before MTV, the lively “That's What I Like About You.” But like many bands after the advent of MTV, they went through a major, cosmetic make over.  

The 1980s did produce some very good books, movies and music.  Unfortunately, for every Once in a Life Time,  there was hours of this dreck  to wade through.

Oh well. One of the great, or not so great, depending on your perspective, things about the Internet is the opportunity agree to disagree in instantly on-line.

Remember that I love you in that special, creepy way that a middle aged stranger you met on the Internet can love you.


It occurred to me that 99% of the things I have done that I regret doing happened in the 1980s.
I found a link to this while catching up opn my reading this morning: Killing Joke

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 09:07:58 PM

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