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Thread: Decades

  1. #1

    Decades

    In some of the other vB forums I belong to, there has always been a lot of discussion dealing with the 1980s. “80s Movies”, “’80s Music”, “Big ‘80s hair”, etc. The general consensus seems to be that the 1980s were a bad decade in terms of fashion and taste in movies.

    But exactly just what is the "1980s"? Did they actually begin on January 1, 1980 and end on December 31, 1989. Chronologically yes, but what about culturally, socially and politically?

    I would submit that it took a couple of years for the '80s to take root in our psyche - that the first couple of years were actually very 1970s. The ‘80s as we know it, probably really took root some time in 1982 with the explosion of new wave music late in the summer. 1983 was the first full year of the true 1980s. Similarly, the 1980s did not just end overnight when the ball dropped on January 1, 1990. The Gulf War era of 1990-91 is very much “’80s”

    Peoples' tastes and ideals do not change overnight. It takes between two or three years for a decade to be identified as unique in terms of its political and cultural ideals. Take the 1960s for example. I would say that the year 1960 is about as far away from 1969 as you can get - in terms of politics, culture and ideals - yet we lump those two years together into one convenient term - "The sixties".

    Likewise, 2000 and most of 2001 are very "’90s". They were just an extension of the most prosperous decade of the 20th Century. However, with the recent terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and ongoing recession, we can say that the 1990s are truly over and we are indeed in the decade of the 2000s.

    This would also apply to film. On a poll of another forum I belong to, members voted the 1980s as the worst decade for film. Interestingly, some of the early 1990s years were voted the worst for film also, reaffirming my point that the early 1990s is really the 1980s.

    Here then is my interpretation of the political and social re-classification of each of the past four decades and some of the catalysts that propelled us into each of those decades:

    1960s: 1963-1971. Kennedy Assassination, Beatles
    1970s: 1971-1982. Beatles breakup, end of “flower power”,fuel shortages
    1980s: 1982-1992. Reagan Era, New Wave Music
    1990s: 1992-2001. Clinton era, economic prosperity
    2000s: 2001-20??. Bush Administration, recession, terrorist attacks

    Of these decades, the 1970s is the most difficult to classify. I would submit that no other year changed us so dramatically during the 1970s than the tumultuous year 1973: Oil Embargo, long gas lines, canceled vacations, "stagflation".

    However, I think the 1970s were already well entrenched before that date, perhaps as early as 1971. I believe John Lennon said something to the effect that "The party's over" when New Year's rolled around on January 1, 1971.

    Because mores change gradually, each successive year after 1970 became steadily more "'70s" while losing more and more of its '60s characteristics and ideology. If this could be quantified in some kind of empirical percentage ratio, perhaps the early years of the 1970s could be summed up below:

    1970. 10% "1970s", 90% "1960s"
    1971. 50% "1970s", 50% "1960s"
    1972. 75% "1970s", 25% "1960s"
    1973. 90% "1970s", 10% "1960s"

    As you can see 1971 was already 50% 1970s, which is half, but not nearly as "'70s" as 1973 which has only a trace of '60s left in it. The oil shortages pretty much killed off the last of '60s idealism, yet it was in the death throws as far back as 1971.


    Please feel free to share your comments and views on this theory.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Sorry Cat, but my short attention span would not allow me to read past the first paragraph. :8|

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I agree 100% about the 80's ending in 1992. I graduated high school in June 1992. By the time I started college in the fall, all of pop culture was completely different - the guidos were growing out their flattops and the hicks were cutting their hair. I think we are still in the 90's culturally because most things from the 90's don't seem silly yet. Most rock bands still superficially ape 90's bands.

  4. #4
          Downtown's avatar
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    Cat, slow morning?

    anyway, I agree with you that a decade can definitely spill over into the next. It seems to me that a lot of it follows the music trends - music of the 60's was folk/pop, 70's was disco/hard rock - 80's was new wave/punk/pop - 90's was alternative/grunge and back to 00's with the pop/ and rap

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Originally posted by Planderella
    Sorry Cat, but my short attention span would not allow me to read past the first paragraph. :8|
    Ditto...

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by Seabishop
    I agree 100% about the 80's ending in 1992. I graduated high school in June 1992. By the time I started college in the fall, all of pop culture was completely different - the guidos were growing out their flattops and the hicks were cutting their hair. I think we are still in the 90's culturally because most things from the 90's don't seem silly yet. Most rock bands still superficially ape 90's bands.
    I graduated from HS in 92 as well....and looking back at yearbook photos...we were still definitely in the 80's.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  7. #7
          Downtown's avatar
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    Originally posted by NHPlanner


    I graduated from HS in 92 as well....and looking back at yearbook photos...we were still definitely in the 80's.
    Kind of off topic, but at the Dixie Chicks concert last summer, they did a little slide show of pictures from when they were growing up and high school and they got to the pictures with their huge 80's hair and instructed the audience to look to their left and right and discreetly tap the arm of whoever was still sporting 80's hair. Best PSA ever!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Z Cavarricis and lots of hairspray were definitely in attendance at HS Graduation 1992. And mullets were not yet ironic, but, gasp! still in "fashion"...Yep, the conceptual 80s were definitely around until 92-93...

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    Cyburbian statler's avatar
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    Yeah for me the 90's didn't really start till Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and flanel hit the scene. By the same token, they pretty much ended when Saint Kurt ventilated his head. Then there was a kind of quasi-90's that was the tech bubble (pretty much sumed up in Dave Egger's 1st book). Once the bubble burst popped in late 2000 early '01 we seemed to really start the aughts. Then Sept 11th and we started all over again.
    "So, if a city has a personality, maybe it also has a soul. Maybe it dreams." -Gaiman
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Originally posted by plannerkat
    Z Cavarricis and lots of hairspray were definitely in attendance at HS Graduation 1992. And mullets were not yet ironic, but, gasp! still in "fashion"...Yep, the conceptual 80s were definitely around until 92-93...
    Mullets may not be in fashion but they sure feel good when you're driving your Camaro and they're blowing in the breeze.

  11. #11

    Pedant moment

    Ahem, technically, in numbers terms, the 80s were '81 to '90 and the 90s were '91 to '00 and so on, as we start our calender/year count starts in 1 A.D.

    Anyway. I agree with the era definitions with some allowance for minor cultural differences.
    Glorious Technicolor, Breath-Taking CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    This is an amusing thread - I'll have to take more time later to digest it and reply.

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