Saturday, 21 July 2012

What have the 80s ever done for us?

They were tacky. They gave us mullets and the New Romantics. They virtually gave up on good taste. 

They were the 80s and kitsch was the norm!

I've sometimes been ridiculed for my love of this very cheesy decade. But here are a few things many of us can be grateful to the 80s for, and not just me. I must warn you it gets pretty random!

Do They Know It's Christmas Time? - Band Aid
We all remember the video. Phil Collins, Sting, Bono, Duran Duran, George Michael, the ever-colourful Boy George and several other 80s icons rounded up in the studio together by Sir Bob Geldof. 

Sir Bob and friends didn't just give us a timeless Christmas classic. They raised a great deal of awareness about the poverty in Africa and did much good with this well-written song, not to mention the Live Aid concert.

It was a decade in which, rather than complain about the state of the world from his armchair, one man decided to act and try to make it a better place.  

Michael J. Fox
Yes, he of Back to the Future and Teen Wolf fame, the latter making me feel better about quite hairy for my young years at the time! Good old Marty McFly who travelled backwards in time in one of the coolest cars ever to be created, whizzed about on a skateboard and riffed Johnny B.Goode at the school dance. 

This 80s heart-throb has made it into my list not so much because of the movies, good as they were, but because of his illness. Struck down by Parkinson's disease, he has created a foundation to try to research cures for the disease.

His story is a reminder to us all how cruel life can sometimes be. We should never forget it.

Appetite for Destruction by Guns 'N' Roses
In the 70s, it was the Sex Pistols whom everybody feared. Then came the late 80s and the 'Most Dangerous Band in the World'. In a decade riddled with synth, bad makeup and mullets - that said, I love it still! - came one of the most timeless rock albums ever: Appetite for Destruction!

They proved that the 80s were still capable of good music, even if all fashion sense had gone out of the window.'Paradise City' - what an anthem, and 'Sweet Child o' Mine' - what a guitar solo with its 1 000 million notes per second!

Even now I still listen to this album, hoping that heavy metal will see the light and once again be about virtuous playing and finely crafted songs, rather than about angst and lousy childhoods. I'll probably never see that day, but I can dream about if nothing else!

Space Raiders
I admit I've never liked these crisps. I did, however, like the price. At just 10p a packet, Space Raiders were the epitome of the cheap snack, that food could be affordable.

Not only that, in my adult years this concept would immediately help me identify (potential) shoplifters when working in customer service, who would ask 'Have you got any 10 pence crisps?'. If they asked that, you'd immediately suspect that if that's all they had on them, and that's all they'd come for, they had no need to be walking around the shop for 10 minutes after you'd already said no!

Oooooooo controversial. 

Not because I think it's a good thing, however. Remember that saying, 'There's nothing like the sight of the battlefield after the battle to inspire a love of peace and a hatred of war' or something along those lines? Well, unfortunately, we had to experience Thatcherism just so we'd know how bad life under the Conservatives would actually be come future elections: expect rioting on the streets, iron fist-style government, tax cuts and major cuts in the public sector.

Sadly, we came full circle in the last general election, but, once they were finally out, at least we kept the Tories out for over 10 years before letting them back in. 

These are just a few of the things I think the 80s deserve a little gratitude for. They showed us some of the things that could be achieved; showed us some of the things that couldn't; and some of the things that simply shouldn't be tried!

What are you grateful to the 80s for? Or is there a decade you think we should owe particular thanks to? I'd be interested to hear.

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