The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
ISSUE FOUR (7 May 2003)
Oh No! Proof We're Really Living in the Awful 1980s
Donna White & Natasha Weale, The (Glasgow, Scotland) Sunday Mail (13 April 2003)
Micro minis are all the rage, Duran Duran are reforming, and chunky mobile phones are making a comeback.
The Eighties, it seems, are alive and well, 20 years on.
Everywhere you look, whether it's fashion, music or movies, we're celebrating the era that brought us the Rubik Cube and filofax.
But social commentator Peter York claims we're not so much returning to the's simply that we never left them.
He said: "The things we strived for in the 1980s are still true today. We've just got used to the career-driven, celebrity-obsessed life we had then. People claim that the 90s were such a spiritual time but I don't think they were one inch spiritual. Just because a few celebrities got into yoga doesn't mean they became selfless and less materialistic."
For a modern-day Sloane Ranger, look no further than Liz Hurley and Victoria Hervey.
For yuppies, what about Guy Ritchie or Jamie Oliver? They might not wear pinstripe suits or carry filofaxes, but they are still part of the young, upwardly mobile elite. And while every wannabe pop star in the 80s had a Page 3 girl on his arm, lapdancers have become the new arm candy for the famous, spreading salacious gossip through kiss-and-tells when it all goes pear-shaped.
So it seems the lifestyle we courted in the 1980s is still flourishing and 2003 sees us fully embracing the decade of decadence.
In fashion, jumpsuits, mini-skirts, hooped earrings and even the dreaded mullet hairstyle are proof if it were needed that the 80s are back. Pop diva Jennifer Lopez has decided to bring the off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and leg warmers look back into vogue. In her latest video, "I'm Glad," J-Lo pays homage to the 80s hit flick Flashdance in which Jennifer Beals starred as a welder-turned-dancer....
In films and TV it really is a case of we've seen it all before with Hollywood set to release a record 27 remakes and sequels this year. Fresh from their success on Chicago, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have been tipped to remake the 1984 hit Footloose. Also in the cards is a remake of Miami Vice....
In music the biggest evidence of an 80s revival is the fact Rick Astley is making a return to the charts. The bequiffed one is writing for Popstars band One True Voice so we can be sure of a definite 80s vibe on the new single "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words."
The past few months have been dominated by 80s sounds from the likes of Electric Six, whose No. 2 hit "Danger High Voltage" was a refreshing change to anything else dominating the music scene. Liberty X cashed in on the trend by combining two hugely successful 80s hits -- Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" and the Human League's "Being Boiled" -- for their latest hit, "Being Nobody."
....In technology woo, the 80s still rule. The graphics for the latest Playstation 2 game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, could have come straight from an episode of Miami Vice -- all rolled-up sleeves and driving around in convertibles with "Billie Jean" blaring out of the stereo.
And in mobile phones, it seems big is the new small. Where once it was cool to carry a tiny telephone, in trend-setting New York 80s-style "brick" phones are the new must-have....
(c) 2003 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday

Screenshots from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Musical Feeds Nostalgia for the '80s
Philip O'Brien talks with Penny Cook, a cast member of Footloose, which is proving as popular with people in their twenties as their parents.
Philip O'Brien, Canberra Times (13 November 2002)
Forget flared plants and platform shoes; the nostalgia cycle has rolled on to the 1980s. If show-business trends are a guide, any moment now big hair, shoulder pads and white shoes will be making a comeback. And, once again, a new generation will be wearing them with a mixture of irony and wistfulness.
Footloose the musical, based on the 1984 film of the same name, has just opened at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney. Its high-energy 1980s music and dance numbers are proving as popular with 20-somethings as with their parents. Cast member Penny Cook has been observing all this with wry amusement. She starred in one of Australia's most popular television soap operas of the 1980s, A Country Practice, and knows how easy it is to idealise another era through the prism of popular culture....
"Many of the kids in the show are clinging to an idea of what they imagine the '80s were all about," she says. "And they think of the period as marvellous until they see the clothes. Then some of the more fashion conscious say to me, 'No one could possibly have worn that.' I just don't admit to them that I did."
....Footloose was one of the most popular dance films of the 1980s and launched the careers of Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow. It opened with an unforgettable scene of actor Lori Singer, as the minister's daughter, balanced astride two speeding vehicles.
That scene has not made its way into the musical, Cook says, but she knows little more about the movie because she has avoided seeing it. "It's the way I work. I prefer to concentrate on the text at hand rather than rely on other sources."
....[I]t is musicals such as Footloose... that are particularly grabbing audiences. What's the appeal? Is it just the music or is it the values of supposedly happier times? As far as Footloose is concerned, Cook says, "It could be the appeal of the money and extravagance of those years. And it could be the clothes, which are particularly popular with the 16- and 17-year-olds."
(c) 2002, The Federal Capital Press of Australia Pty Ltd.

Two Boyz Go Back to the Future
Scottish designers Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister have tuned into the trend for nostalgia with interiors that reflect the glitz and opulence of 1980s
Christine Ferguson, (London) Sunday Times (13 April 2003)
Labelled by many as the decade style forgot, the glitz and opulence of 1980s interiors is set to make a comeback, according to Scots designers Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister.
The duo, best known for their appearances on BBC1's Trading Up, have launched their first collection of exotic home furnishings inspired by the Dynasty actress Joan Collins, icon of the cash-rich Reagan years....
Ryan says: "We were asked to design a 1980s interior for the Ideal Home Show and we had such fun with it we decided to do our own range of furniture. We looked at 1980s style and there seemed to be two strands: the English country house chintz and patterned look -- a kind of rich man's Laura Ashley -- and the Manhattan loft look.
"We opted for the loft look -- the sort of thing you would see in films such as Wall Street. We tried to design the kind of bed you could imagine Charlie Sheen reclining on, with highly polished black headboard and black sheets with red piping, like that used on Gloria Vanderbilt jeans...."
The two men claim that they are not alone in reworking design from the decade of Thatcher. Ryan says: "Lots of the Italian designers are influenced heavily by the 1980s -- look at companies like Minotti, which produces very angular sofas and beds and other furniture. When you go to the big furniture fair in Milan you see the 1980s look absolutely everywhere." The Ideal Home set at Earl's Court provides a striking showcase for the pair's furniture range featuring a highly polished black platform bed, console tables and red-and-black wall panels.
....Perhaps the most surprising touch has to be a sculpture made out of 50 Rubik's Cubes.
Ryan says: "We were looking for the one thing more than any other which might represent the 1980s for us and it had to be the ubik's Cube. We had to get in touch with the manufacturers who licensed us to use it and we came up with a kind of DNA-like structure."
The furniture range, which is available in different colours and finishes, has already attracted a huge amount of interest according to Ryan, who says that he has secured early commissions from a Japanese model and an American rock star, who he declines to name but says is "very famous."
....But are people really ready for a 1980s comeback? McAllister is confident that they are. He says: "Loft living, which informed 1980s style, didn't really come over to Scotland until the mid-1990s with places like the Todd Building in Glasgow's Merchant City and this kind of furniture looks best in a big space.
"In the 1990s we looked back 20 years to the 1970s. Now we are in 2003, the 1980s looks quite retro. I think design in the 1980s was fantastic because people had a lot of money to spend and they also learned a lot from the mistakes of the 1970s, like the swirly wallpaper patterns.
"We love all that nostalgia -- the music, the fashion, Friends Reunited and so on. I think a lot of people who are in their thirties like us will think of the 1980s as a really fun time and will really get into the look."....
(c) 2003 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Replay of Reagan-Era Voting Patterns Is Not Good News for Democrats
Ronald Brownstein, The Nation (18 November 2002)
Walter F. Mondale on the ballot. Bruce Springsteen on the record charts. And Republicans popping champagne on election night.
Almost everything about the 2002 election season felt retro -- like 1984, in fact. The Republican triumph this year didn't approach the scale of that year, when Ronald Reagan rolled to 49-state victory over Mondale, then the Democratic presidential nominee. But the debate between the parties this fall -- and the ways that competition divided the electorate -- often seemed to reprise the early 1980s. Which is not good for Democrats.
....Compared with the 1980s, Democrats are stronger today on several fronts. Under Bill Clinton -- with his socially liberal, fiscally moderate "New Democrat" message -- the party expanded its reach among white suburbanites and moderates outside the South. For the most part, it has held those gains.
In the 1980 and 1984 presidential races, the Democratic nominee lost independent voters by more than 20 percentage points each time. But...Democrats ran at least even with Republicans among independents in the 2002 congressional vote, just as Al Gore split independents almost evenly with George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential contest.
Democrats also continue to run much better today than in the 1980s with white women, many of whom are attracted to the party's support for gun control and legal abortion.
....But on other electoral battlegrounds, the GOP is reestablishing the advantages that produced its dominance in the Reagan era. Key among them:
White men: They were the backbone of the Reagan coalition -- in 1984, they gave Reagan a staggering 35 percentage point margin over Mondale....Now the gap is widening again: White men gave Republicans a 21-point margin in the 2002 vote....
The resurgent GOP advantage among white men is so powerful that it could threaten one of the most important Democratic assets: the labor movement's turnout machine....Democrats led Republicans this year among all union households by just 14 points -- half the margin of 1998 -- and only by six points among white union households. That's sufficiently reminiscent of Reagan's blue-collar appeal that it may soon be time to start talking about Bush Democrats.
Married women: They leaned Republican in the 1980s, which helped the GOP moderate the gender gap....Clinton made progress here, too, carrying married women in 1996 with a message built around "tools" for parents.
Now, values and security issues are nudging married women back toward the GOP. Republicans carried married women comfortably in the 1998 congressional race, ran even in the 2000 presidential race and...posted a 10-point advantage in 2002.
Rural voters: They gave Reagan and President George Bush big margins in the 1980s, then divided almost evenly in the Clinton years. Now Democrats are down on the farm again....GOP congressional candidates this year carried rural voters by more than 20 percentage points, just as Bush did in 2000.
The solid South: This region is resurfacing as the cornerstone of GOP strength. In the 1990s Democrats enjoyed a mini-revival through Dixie, capturing several states with Clinton, adding two Senate seats and winning six governorships. But in the 2000 presidential race, Bush won every Southern state. And in 2002, Republicans recaptured three governor's mansions...and easily held four open Southern Senate seats....
Even more important this year was a reversion to the 1980s pattern where the Democrats appear to be the "Mommy" party, preferred on issues of caring and compassion, and Republicans the "Daddy" party, trusted to defend the nation....It doesn't take much more to understand the stampede of white men back to the GOP.
Democrats compounded their problem by failing to articulate a comprehensive alternative vision for defending the nation....Instead, in a final echo of Mondale in the 1980s, most Democrats tried to patch together majorities by wooing individual constituencies with targeted programs, such as prescription drug coverage for seniors. That was a recipe for disaster in the Reagan years. And based on this month's results, it's no more appetizing for voters today.
(c) 2002 The Times Mirror Co.

Culture Club [Original Recording Remastered] [Box Set]

Living in the '80s; Or When Did We Get This Old?
Gina Vivinetto, St. Petersburg Times (20 April 2003)
Some members of the Team Pop posse are having difficulty with this whole nostalgia for the 1980s thing, because, well, frankly, because it means we're old.
....Every time you turn around someone is waxing nostalgic for something 1980s, be it Missy Elliot celebrating all things old-school rap -- the breakdancing, the fat shoelaces and sweatsuits -- or that revival of heavy metal hair bands that surfaced a few years ago. Lately, there has been a renewed interest in New Wave and post-punk, thanks to arty bands such as new critical darlings Interpol.
But, fellow thirtysomethings, raise your hand if you enjoy having the kid who works at the local gym tell you that Annie Lennox "used to be in a band called the Eurythmics."
You don't say! What can you tell us next: that Sting was in a little outfit called the Police once upon a time? What of quizzical teens asking us if we're familiar with U2's "really old stuff" like The Joshua Tree! Madonna on the oldies station?....
Next, Team Pop will be giving demonstrations to neighborhood kids on how to frost bangs like John Taylor from Duran Duran. Or we can show the boys how to get their lip liner perfect like Boy George's. Except, you know, not as many people would be shocked by a boy with lip liner now. So, what's the point? Why would a girl get a neon-orange buzz cut and don a man's suit like Annie Lennox if no one at the mall stares at you?
You kids nowadays, with your Sum 41 and your nose rings and your tattoos before you're even out of the crib, you don't know how tough my generation had it. We had to walk both ways to school in Converse Chuck Taylors and Doc Martens, and it was a long way, and our headphones didn't sound nearly as good as yours.
But we had good music. Sweet, sweet sounds of the early 1980s. And much of it is being reissued. Check out these popular artists from yesteryear.
The Police
The folks at the Universal label are making a big to-do about the entire catalog of the Police. As they should. Repeat after Team Pop: The Police is one of the most important bands ever, a shining light among the acts of the early 1980s....
The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta: 1980's Zenyatta Mondatta is a great leap into unabashed pop, and it works big-time. "Don't Stand So Close To Me" -- golly, was there ever a better song about a teacher getting it on with his student? (And coming from former English teacher Sting, yowza.) The nonsensically sensible "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" is a delightful shrug regarding simple pop songs' love sentiments. But Sting hits his stride with "big" themes such as "Driven To Tears," "When The World Is Running Down," "You Make The Best Of What's Still Around" and the tongue-in-cheek "Bombs Away."....
The Police, Ghost in the Machine: Sting pulls no punches on this one, proving by 1981 he was ready to spill his guts about his global concerns. Chiefly, these would be imperialism in the Third World, our spiritual beings lost in a tech-crazy universe, and information overload. (Word on the street, circa '81: Sting has become an insufferable egomaniac. The Police's days are numbered.) This album would be a real bummer if it weren't for its seamless pop approach, filled with snappy beats, bouncy bass, and fresh sounding synthesizer. Not to mention that this "glum" album contains the ebullient "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," made even more so by [Stewart] Copeland's ecstatic drumming....
The Police, Synchronicity: By 1983's Synchronicity, the Police pretty much hated each other, but the tension only churned the music along. This final album contained monster hits in the form of "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "Synchronicity," the creepy control-freak/stalker anthem "Every Breath You Take," and the super dreary "King Of Pain" with egofreak Sting painting himself as the ultimate martyr. Don't forget the elegant "Tea In The Sahara."
Culture Club
Culture Club was another popular British act in the 1980s, but this quartet was doing something altogether different. Image played a crucial role in the success of Culture Club, featuring eccentric drag queen lead singer Boy George. The band, which lasted from 1981 until 1987, is often noted to have had more significant impact socially and culturally, and less mind is paid to the band's wonderful tunes. Well, missy, Team Pop is putting a stop to all that!
Culture Club made music that was pure ear candy. Proof is in Culture Club, The Box Set (Virgin), a four-disc anthology that includes most of Culture Club's catalog. Sure, flamboyant Boy George's chameleon fashions -- those braids and tunics and the in-your-face androgyny -- may have forever changed -- or liberated -- attitudes, but the group's singles stand the test of time.
There's a reason "Kharma Chameleon" is the best-selling UK single in the history of Virgin records. Culture Club's seamless, danceable light "soul" pop earned the band six Top 10 hits in the United States. Remember those plucky early hits "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?,"...and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya"? Next came a Grammy for Best New Artist and more hits: "Church Of The Poison Mind," "Miss Me Blind" and the infectious "It's A Miracle." Horn blasts and ska beats were out front in the band's music, and it was all cheeky fun, fun, fun, even when the Boy was pouting more than primping.
....There are also plenty of unreleased demos, alternate tracks, remixes, an entire disc, in fact, of slick emixes by club god Richie "Drumhead" Stevens, and a lovely scrapbook of photos. The box set, should you dare, will set you back more than 50 bucks. For Culture Club enthusiasts, it gives you everything you need. For the rest, it may be more than you want.
(c) 2003 Times Publishing Co.

The Eighties Club is not affiliated in any way with any of the publications from which these excerpts were derived, and does not profit in any way from the purchase of the complete articles. These excerpts are provided for educational purposes only.