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<nettime> the 80s revival
andy on Sat, 20 Sep 2003 04:30:40 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> the 80s revival


it had to come back sometime.  popular american culture is throwing back
what was once a few years ago the 70s revival(and that admittedly wasn't
all to bad), for the 80s revival which is showing stronger ahistorical
similarities of the changes in american society a generation ago then the
tacky fashion fad of the late 90s.

i have a pet theory of how it all started: it all started with those damn
electric scooters.  overnight -bam!- kids everywhere wanted one.  you had
to admit, they looked cool, drove fast, and turned heads. when was it
century's ago, back in 99-00, parents everywhere looking to appease their
kids cool-fetish and at the same time the checkbook bought the next cheapest
(and way less cool thing): scooters you need to push.

as always kids are forced to adapt to parental biddings(for better or
worse) if it wasn't a radio flier or right pair of sneakers, and quickly
became bored of scooters.  after all, scooters were just designed as a
kind of training wheels for skateboards.

it didn't take long for kids to figure out that skateboards were much more
cool then scooters, and in fact a subculture has been dedicated to the
sport for 2 decades that peaked in the early 80s and there are plenty of
old skaters around to show off there tricks.  remember how cool micheal j
fox looked being pulled by trucks on his skateboard in back to the future?

the 80s as i remember it, hip, punk, and indie was the style of the day,
wearing "different" clothing styles, indirectly all taking place in an
ultra conservative political climate in the country is a few more
interesting parallels to reflect on and see the similarity's.  and think,
all lead at the helm by a president everyone has something strong to say
about(sound familiar generation x-er's?).  depeche mode was the most
innovative time of all time to this very day.  the pc was the rage for
hobbyists and social outcasts.  a lot was happening.

the 80s ushered in the great leap forward in consumer technology in the 90s
on the crest of the internet to whoever can afford a $500 iPod, laptop,
cell phone, fast internet access, chic car(at least the 80s revival isn't
influencing car design-- yet), and a lazaee-faire attitude in adults
disillusioned(or at least) unqualified to develop a marriage, or
competently use the great technologically advanced cool stuff yuppies buy.  
gated community's, 24 hour security, bullet proof bmw's, it would appear
that the upwardly mobile class had all it needed to protect itself from
the storm that affected blue collar jobs being sent to mexico or india.

indeed, it would appear a tame portrayal of william gibsons sprawl in
neuromancer would be closer to fact then fiction, 20 years since
publication, if you were white, middle class, and had assets to mortgage.

the PC in the 80s was largely embraced by the outcasts of teenage society
to white middle class nerds and geeks.  we have seen a big reversal to
that by 2003, when lots of those geeks earned multimillion IPO's that was
suddenly very cool and very sexy.  i think there was even a article in 
people or some other drivel on the sexiness of bill gates.  

for the cool people in there 20s and 30s that didnt get into "computers,"
they bribe those that do know something to get the things to work, or take
great pains to pretend to know more then they do.  besides, everybody(in
this demographic) in the "wave" of the future points and clicks their way
through the internet for email, web browsing, streaming video(read: porn),
and downloading music which is very hip.  all brought to you by aol and
dell computer.

everyone uses the windows XPerience of computing, quite commonly referred
to in some circles as the fisher-price operating system.  apple has once
again been sidelined to the status of a fruit.  the cultural after effects
of the iraq invasion is that no one really minds what reasons are valid
for going to war, even if suspected of being lies(what only a hundred days
after "victory"?). only spineless liberals a full year after the series of
events started to unfold in a position to pick up the pieces started to
"rattle the sabre" for the great superbowl of stupidity: political office.  
this is almost as bad as the reaction to the gulf of tonkin incident but
at least a few networked people(i will refer to as the anti-left) organize
through the internet to "do something" about it which consists of making
signs and vowing nonviolent protest(!!).

any sophisticated questioning that looks beyond political differences to
solving social problems, or even better, looks outside politics to solve
problems of the human condition, is scorned for not taking a serious
stance on terrorism or the outrage of allowing mr universe run for
governor.  americans have never been known for defying puritanism for long
and simple american people need simple reasons("that saddam bastard
deserved it any how").  XPerience users have shown that viruses can't be
stopped, so why worry, its a part of the package.  right?

i would like somebody to find for me a publication and description of a
major american media(memory) hole, up to the fall of the saddam regime,
with 20 years of american political coverage of iraq, saddams politcal
party mentioned, by name, as the batthist party(the great allies of rony
reagan and donald rumsfeld on those iranaian nonchristian antiamerican
people).  i cannot remember a single time hearing the name of the batthist 
name, much like oceania has always been at war with eurasia.

back in the homeland, a la hitlers fatherland, history is throwing a young
generation without history games to be obsessively entranced by the relics
of the past of civil war reenactments, WW II movies, medieval city
reenactments, star trek, and star wars. scifi conventions is the real
reunion of disney and dali and greenbacks.  the latest computer games are
enough for adults(should be in parentheses) to lose marriages, homes, and
kids, for the chance to play everquest, called evercrack by netizens.  a
plethora of hyper obsessions as plentiful as legal and illegal drug use is
growing as is the corresponding persecution by the multinational
prison-complex of criminals, narcos, terrorists, mental ill, and poor
people reaches levels unimagined by previous generations.

technology has come to set us free to always work.  cell phones, beepers,
laptops.  technology sets us free by being able to email that termination
slip(its not pink any more) Friday afternoon, as the latest tax breaks
fail to abet the lose of jobs to countries with cheaper labor and stricter
immigration control.  Thanks Bill!

but this rant was on the 80s revival.  whats going on and where are we
going as individuals in society?  what does it mean to live in a brave new
world dictated by the impersonal forces of the information age with banner
ads that read my browsing history and RFID tags ensuring that terrorists
dont steal a pack of gillette razors?

personally, i dont care.  however, currently i feel that a lot can be
learned comparing the rise of youth culture and liberal disillusionment in
the 80s, to correctly scope(or cope) with the rapid amount of change
politically, technologically, and culturally today as in the 80s. the 80s
influence, much more then previous decades, is still modern in the sense
of technological innovation and hyper conservative political climate with
the cyclic revival of puritanism.

it is my sincere wish american people wakes up and gets it.  however, im
not holding my breath until the suv gas tanks are empty, mega malls are
ghost towns and stomachs go hungry at the highest echelon of society.  a
hacker is being charged with a federal crime for adding his name to a list
of expert witnesses on the internet. 12 year old girls are getting sued
for sharing music(remember back in the day forging your way out of class
or trading cassettes?).  get real america.  howard dean will not save you.

humanism in the 20th century failed at making the world a better place and
i can only assume its track record will continue.  i recently read a great
scifi novel where a character described his efforts to make the present
world more interesting. i hope to meet more of these characters in real 
life.


andy 

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