Earlier this month, I returned to my old high school to speak to some of the creative writing students. As I prepared for my visit, I pulled out the my old high school yearbook from my senior year, 1988. And seeing all of the 80s hairstyles and clothing caused me to pause and ponder… what the hell
were we thinking? The 1980s were interesting years, almost like a transition decade between the disco age of the 1970s and the grunge age that started in the 1990s. The brightly colored clothing was like something out of Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat. And I think we caused more damage in the 1980s to the ozone than any other decade simply by the amount of hair spray required to keep our hair high and puffy. The music was radically different too. Gone were the days of the Bee Gees and their disco rhythm to be replaced by the power ballads of bands like Journey and Asia. And, who can forget (no matter how hard we try) the teaming up of Aerosmith with Run DMC with “Walk This Way”.
Every generation has an era that defines them, and along with that definition comes clothing, music, movies, and events. Those four things tend to shape people, and mold them into what they are to become. I can remember sitting in the Print Shop at my high school when news of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster reached us. I don’t know how many of my classmates were impacted by the tragic news, but I know I was. Then there was the 1980s Hawaiian shirt fad. I have to admit I went a little overboard with that one. Then there were the quintessential 80s movies, such as Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and the original Friday the 13th. And, of course, my generation was chosen to answer three of the most critical questions of the 1980s: "What’s love got to do with it?", "Where’s the beef?", and, "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?"
We were a peculiar bunch in the 1980s, striving to make our decade different from any other that had come before it. We challenged the norm, and created a unique identity that stood out from any other decade. But, isn’t that what every generation does? They work to make a name for themselves, and create a distinctive identity that stands out from the rest. We in the 1980s were no different. However, as I flipped through the pages of my yearbook, I found myself still wondering, what the hell were we thinking?