Friday, August 14, 2009

Why I Love 80s Movies

I know my first official post as a mother should have more import than this, but this is what I'm thinking about this morning.

1. Fat and/or Unattractive Dudes Wearing Sweatshirts: Seriously, check out any movie from the 80s and you'll find a lead dude who could never make it into any other decade of film. What was it about the 80s that allowed us so much aesthetic generosity? Is John Belushi responsible for this? Or Bill Murray who was attractive for reasons that had nothing to do with his looks? No matter the motivation, all hail the 80s film and its acceptance of the fat dude in ugly clothes.

2. Ugly Clothes: No one cared what they were wearing. They really didn't. Sure, there's the occasional Valley Girl film with a whole lot of bracelets and taffeta and pink lipstick, but very few 80s films had fashion as a main character. Oh, well, I do have to give props to Pretty in Pink where fashion was central, but a majority of the films featured jeans, ugly tennis shoes, and those sweatshirts - usually dark green sweatshirts for some reason that I'm pretty sure were made by Hanes.

3. Delayed Adolescence: Nowhere is there a greater commitment to the childish man than in 80s films. How old was Bill Murray in all those films? There was no celebration of the teen as evidenced in just about every popular television show and film in modern "culture." Instead, men in their late 20s and early 30s reflected the apparent 80s fascination with tee-peeing and scavenger hunts.

4. The Scavenger Hunt, Summer Camp, and Fraternities Situation: The ubiquitous nature of the scavenger hunt, the summer camp scenario, and nerdy, social outcast fraternities in 80s films suggests a commitment to play that is lost in current cinema. Instead we have a bunch of shows and films where teenagers act like adults instead of the other way around. (See: Beverly Hills 90210 and Gossip Girl).

5. Molly Ringwald and the Charming Life of the Poor: We were concerned about nothing so much as which side of the tracks we lived on. It was our major crisis in the 80s as evidenced by every Molly Ringwald film. Whether she was the rich, snobby Clare in The Breakfast Club or the poor Andie in Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald represented the social strata of the 80s in a way that no documentarian has been able to capture since.

6. Nerds: See Goonies, Revenge of the Nerds, Animal House, Lucas, etc ...

7. Simplicity: Life was easier in the 80s. It must have been. Film was not interested just yet in unusual narrative development or untrustworthy narrators. We knew Jennifer Grey would learn how to dance. We knew no children would die on Elizabeth Shue's watch. We knew Duckie and Andy would be friends forever.

8. 80s Music: Oh, you synthesized heaven, you. Bring on those dancing horses. John Hughes, recently deceased king of 80s cinema and ruler of Molly Ringwald's career was the Wes Anderson of his day, pairing music with film in a way that can only be described as genius. I remember reading an article in Jane magazine (yes, Jane magazine!) where Molly Ringwald claimed some responsiblity for the music choices, which makes her even cooler which hardly seems possible.

9. Horribly Problematic Racial and Sexual Characterizations: I know this shouldn't fall under why I love 80s movies, but the lack of attention to political correctness is refreshing even as I recognize how awful it is. Think: C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man ("This is the Cosby decade. Everybody loves black people"), Data in Goonies ("Booby traps!"), Fisher Stevens playing an Indian in Short Circuit ("Who is knowing how to read the mind of a robot?"), Meshach Taylor in Mannequin ("Two things I love to do is fight and kiss boys"), etc ... Think on these things and let yourself laugh about it.

10. Fagabeefe and the Miracle that is Midnight Madness Which Embodies Pretty Much Everything in This List:

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