If you were born anywhere beyond 1983, you really weren’t an eighties child. You were too young to truly understand just how awesome a generation of people who believed we would be flying around on hover boards by 2015, one space ship ride away from a weekend of passion with an alien who owns three tits on Mars. Growing up in the 1990s was probably the worst time to grow up; everyone was a little pissed off that the 1980s stopped so abruptly and music got decidedly worse, the only exception being The Spice Girls, of course. Even today, you will still find an abundance of people wistful for the 1980s, which is why movies from that generation are so damned popular, even now. I was born at the very end of the 1980s, with only two tender years of being alive during an awesome decade, so I think I feel it more than a lot of people, thus take perpetual comfort in sticking on a film from the decade and grinning like a lunatic until the credits roll.
Eighties movies capture everything that was truly awesome about the decade. I mean, at least the ‘truly awesome’ parts that I, as someone who wasn’t old enough to actually understand the society and culture then, therefore can only assume were the best parts. It might have been crap, but think about it Back to the Future, ET, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, My Step Mother’s an Alien… all of these amazing movies that allow us snippets into how awesome life in the eighties really was and how logic, science and the impossible were all made true to life and genuinely possible for normal people. It was a magical time, way better than any Disney movie can boast. And it taught us so many important life lessons regarding how we should be living our lives as adults born a little too late in the decade to learn any real and tangible lessons about being an adult. And, after all, living one’s life through a series of potentially thirty year old movies is a wise and mature decision, no matter who you are, so remember that.
One of my main childhood crushes in life has been constant: Andrew McCarthy. Just saying his name causes over dramatic, romantic sighs to escape from my lungs; he was a true romantic hero and I owe a lot of important life lessons from the Mannequin and Pretty in Pink actor. The Polonius from Macbeth line: to thine own self, be true can encapsulate the characters McCarthy plays quite well and I guess that this could be one of the life lessons I should take from these movies, but I’m not going to. I’m going to take something else, whilst explaining how he always stays true to himself. I mean, think about it… How many men do you know that would fall in love with an ancient Egyptian princess trapped in a mannequin, only coming to life in private, when no one else is watching and not feel an ounce of shame by being caught in incredibly compromising positions by passers by/shoppers/your boss?
Like he didn’t even explain himself at all; during one scene, they were found after a night of passionate love making (as passionate as a mannequin can be, I imagine, but she did end up playing Samantha Jones, perhaps the horniest woman to ever grace New York City), people were gathered around him as he lay in her embrace wondering “Holy crap! Did he have sex with that mannequin? In a tent? In the middle of this department store?” and that was it, just dignified, silent concern for their fellow human being. Although his reaction was slightly different: mischevious grin, quick exit, total nonchalance and no sign of an emotional breakdown at finding himself in these constantly awkward situations.
Pretty in Pink, of course, saw our romantic hero fall in love with a girl way below his social ranking in life, played by the one and only Molly Ringwald, 80s queen. She was a girl who spent the majority of her time looking after her adorably alcoholic dad (it’s not a danger to her health or her mental well-being looking after an unemployed parent in the 80s. it’s a bonding experience and totally cool!) and a girl who made amazingly fashionable clothes from hand me downs and cast offs and who spent a lot of time hanging around with Jon Cryer, back when he was at his most adorable (like, part of me is totally annoyed at Ringwald for not falling in love with Ducky after his AMAZING Try A Little Tenderness routine. Like, even now, when watching old episodes of Two and a Half Men, I still look at Alan when he was younger and remember seeing him as a youngster, thrusting in the air along to the dulcet tones of Otis Redding and my innards do a little pang. Yes, I know and no, I’m not ashamed); Andrew McCarthy saw past all of that, saw past his supposed best friend’s, James Spader’s dickish comments about social class and Molly being only good for one thing and he fell for her like any 80s romantic hero should, because she was the 80s queen and he knew it. The important life lesson here is that Love Conquers All, alcohol addictions are a father daughter bonding experience and that James Spader deserved to have his party ruined.
From Back to the Future, I learned a lot about friendship and that it comes in all shapes and sizes and even moments in time, and that being a young teenaged boy who befriends a cooky older man everyone thinks is weird will not result in molestation or Stockholm Syndrome: It will result in TIME TRAVEL. I think this is partly why I tend to gravitate towards the older generations, in the hopes that one day, when I’m having an extensive conversation with an old man on the bus, that he will lean into me and whisper I have a time machine. And I will believe him and travel through time with him.
Back to the Future also taught me that incest is surprisingly sexy and that part of me really wanted Marty McFly to kiss his mam because she was way prettier than his 1980s girlfriend and by the sounds of things, way hornier too. And I mean, it wouldn’t be that creepy because it’s a film and people in the 80s didn’t care about incest the way we do now. I mean, the only reason we care Is because of one man who locked his kid in a basement and spoiled it for everyone. But, at least Game of Thrones are bringing it back! The important life lesson here is: Friendship with the elderly will result in time travel and that mothers are sexy.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is perhaps the most important life lesson of all. I mean, firstly, this is the guy who will go ahead and reignite a generation of children’s passion for Africa and is probably the sole reason that we grew up caring about animals, because, let’s face it, anyone who plays SIMBA in a movie is going to be the voice of a generation. I mean, he totally cheated on his wife when she started earning more money than him, but fuck off, he was SIMBA and he also played a person called Ferris, which takes a lot of balls. I take my hat off to him. I think I like this movie so much because it doesn’t play along to the pre-ordained constraints that a lot of movies adhere to. I mean, here he is, a dork for all intents and purposes, bunking off school and having a day of sheer awesome the likes 80s children had never seen before. I mean, he gets involved in a parade that just happened to be making its way down the street when he decided to grab a microphone and join in. I mean, back in the 80s, random parades for no reason were pretty commonplace and it wasn’t weird that no one had the day off work or school to go and see it, because they have parades of everything in America, so people aren’t even that bothered by them. Another parade? ANOTHER PARADE? Ugh, I can’t be dealing with this shit, I have a maths test today! He’s not the traditional romantic hero that a lot of 80s movies encapsulate in their discourse; he’s insightful and inspirational to a generation of teenagers, even today, who feel a little lost and a little broken. The Life Lesson here is: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
The 1980s saw some of the, arguably, best movies of all time and movies that literally shaped a generation of people who were really pissed off not to have been born in a society where no one seemed to care or get down about really shit stuff, I mean, Freddie Mercury, rock god of the time not only came out as gay and people were SHOCKED because flamboyance was not only accepted, it was expected and didn’t see homophobes everywhere clenching their arse cheeks and standing so close to the wall that they could be furniture, but he died and instead of saying horrible things about him being a homosexual, people were sad because his sexual preferences weren’t even a big deal: He was Freddie Mercury for fuck’s sake and he was awesome. Living in the year 2014 sucks, not only because there ARE NO HOVER BOARDS AND TIME TRAVEL DOESN’T EXIST, but because everything is so, so crap these days. You can’t even turn on the news without seeing someone being beheaded or raped. Just once, JUST ONCE, I would love to turn on the news and hear: London came to a halt today as a truant child jumped on top of a float during one of London’s random daily parades and sang us all a song that caused so much joy that he didn’t even get in trouble for truanting and his childlike joy was so infectious that we cured cancer. That’s all from us this evening, goodbye and have a great night!
I think the most important life lesson from my essay of remembrance is that we definitely need to start finding more time in life for joy and in that same respect, eighties movies. Life is too short to watch a shit, independent French film about the nuances of glancing at someone fleetingly for half a second (but then goes into a two and a half hour diatribe as to how negative this can be on human beings), resulting in a lifetime of misery realising you watched this instead of WarGames. So, let this be a lesson to you: Find more time for joy and more time for dissecting 80s movies to make you feel better about having a shit day. Tot Ziens!