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.