The ‘Growing Pains’ of the ’80s

By Staff Writer
February 14, 2002

photo by Katie Reing

Grab your candy necklaces, your “Count Chocula,” and your “Pound Puppy,” because it’s time to watch the “Berenstein Bears!” The ’80s were a decade of flash and pizzazz, cheesy “pop” music, and big hair!

Wall Street, greed and politics reigned supreme, and were even mocked by such ’80s shows as “Family Ties,” and movies like “Wall Street.” This image led the ’80s to be dubbed, “The ‘Me’ Decade.”

What is it about the ’80s that seems to be so comforting to us? We all talk about “Punky Bruster” and “Rainbow Brite,” perhaps because they remind us of our childhood. Everyday, e-mails are circulated throughout the Internet, they are forwarded and copied to share with friends. Most of them have subject headings such as “You know you grew up in the ’80s if.”

Do you still end your sentences with “psych!”? Did you admire Mike Seaver’s friendship with “Boner?” How about Theo Huxtable’s friendship with “Cockroach?” Perhaps you wished that you had a tree outside your bedroom window, so that a young Zack Morris could climb in and comfort you when your stint on caffeine pills sent your record career into a tailspin. “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so . scared!” Or maybe Vinny from next door would invite himself in while you were typing up your discharge orders/diary every night, as Doogie Howser, M.D. did.

I can still remember going to “Circus Town” (a precursor to “Chuck E. Cheese”) for my birthday, where the hit makers, “Celebration Station” would sing “Celebrate Good Times.” I was most likely wearing my fanny-pack and one of my birthday gifts had to have been a “Transformer.” There was also the “Transformer”-ish “Mask” series, where vintage cars morphed into weapons of destruction.

There have been recent resurgences of ’80s trends, including a T.V. show called, “That ’80s Show,” and the always popular, crimped hair. Madonna was number one on the charts for much of the beginning of the new Millennium and Michael Jackson is up for a Grammy at this year’s 2002 awards.

There are even websites designed specifically for nostalgic ’80s-boomers. Sites such as, and, profile such ’80s things as games, like “Candyland,” “Pac-Man” and “Cooties.” They also profile slang words and phrases, such as, “gag me with a spoon,” “grodie,” “like” and “sick.”

One of the most commonly associated trends with the ’80s are Saturday morning cartoons. Shows like “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Alf,” “Popeye the Sailor Man,” “Pound Puppies” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

ABC’s T.G.I.F., originally consisted of shows like “Perfect Strangers,” “Full House,” “Family Matters” and “Just the Ten of Us.” Here is the real question; can you put these shows in order, by the time they came on? Well, if you can, chances are you were a product of the ’80s.

Shows like “Sesame Street” and networks like “MTV” that were developed in the ’80s remain pop-culture icons. Musical acts like Cindy Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and New Kids on the Block all saw their careers peak in the ’80s.

The one thing that most people remember about the ’80s, is the fashion faux pas we all committed. Hair spray, mullets, French-rolled jeans, Swatch watches, Z. Cavaricci, pump high tops and “L.A. Lights” were all “must-have’s.”

Go anywhere on campus, and you will hear spirited recounts of life in the ’80s. Rachel Kanter, junior English major, remembers “Garbage Pale Kids,” tie-dyed shirts and Chinese-jump-ropes. “I remember hair spray frizzed arches,” says Kanter, “it was like, ‘how high can my hair go’?”

Now the question remains, will the ’80s fashions ever return?

Many people believe that fashion trends repeat themselves every 30 years, which means that we are all in for a little dose of ’80s humiliation sooner or later.

Everyone wonders who will still be around in 20 years. Many people think that *Nsync, “Reality Shows,” Starbucks and XandO’s will turn out to simply be fads.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure, the timeless allure of a decade past can always bring smiles back to our faces!

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Staff Writer

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