To the Class of ‘84: We Solute You
If we care to look back, it is clear to see that the 1980s Pop Culture boom is not so much a boom as an acknowledgement of what has always been. And a boom now resembles more a global explosion. While 80s merchandise continues to outsell that of any other decade, and 80s sequels and reboots attract audiences in their billions, we should pay tribute to the creative minds of one particular year in history. We have a lot to thank Hollywood’s Golden Year for, even if we weren’t aware of this. Never has any one year in Hollywood history given birth to so many iconic and enduring franchises as the year 1984. The younger generations are likely unaware that The Terminator, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story, Nightmare on Elm Street, Footloose, Police Academy, Beverly Hills Cop, (am I making my point) each began their life journey the same year. And on top of that, we had the first Indy sequel to prove that Raiders was no fluke, along with numerous other releases, each acclaimed in its own right. Heck, if Back to the Future and The Goonies had been born slightly prematurely, and Return of the Jedi overdue, each of these juggernauts would have landed in 1984 too!
However, 1984 wasn’t content to leave it at movies. The Purple Rain and Footloose soundtracks rocked the albums charts, The Boss released his most iconic album, even if His success was Born In The USA years previous, and The Transformers introduced themselves to Earth after a million year nap. Vince McMahon crowned Hulk Hogan WWE (then WWF) Champion and transformed professional wrestling into a global phenomenon. Whether or not there was something in the water that year, the creative juices were clearly gushing, and we are still being entertained by their genius.
Some of the greatest modern day media minds have been quick to exploit the public’s 80s obsession. It is no coincidence that the setting for Stranger Things, one of the biggest Netflix Series of all time, perfectly bridges the year 1984. Stranger Things resembles a quasi-hybrid of the elements that made movies of the period so special. There is something grounding about the 80s, perhaps a simpler time, where magical adventures required the brave to physically embark on a path of discovery, instead of clicking a mouse to discover something already discovered.
Pop Culture merchandisers have jumped on the bandwagon, with 80s eye candy now adorning collectibles storefronts around the globe. Even New Zealand’s own WETA Workshop have bowed to the 80s resurgence, their latest wave of Mini Epics figures representing some of the decade’s most beloved.
With the hype around the upcoming Top Gun and Ghostbusters sequels, and other rumoured 80s reboots (Goonies, Indy 5, Labyrinth, Beetlejuice, Beverley Hills Cop,…) it appears that 80s fever is unlikely to subside any time soon.
Perhaps Ronald Reagan had a premonition when in 1986 he famously stated, “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” Little did he know just how passionately we would yearn to go back.
Article by Steve Ayers