As millennials, we can be very skilled at two things. These are (1) stalking people online without leaving any traces behind and (2) claiming we do not belong in this generation. The latter should be no novelty to teenagers and young dreamers of this epoch; we can see the motif thriving in today's TV, fashion and music and they mostly revolve around the same culture: that of the eighties. We can see it in TV today with Millie Bobbie Brown’s performance redefining Netflix’s audience, we can see it in the customised denim jackets or metallic fabrics of todays fashion, and we can most definitely see it in the glam and synth of growing bands as obscure as LANY or with artists as big as Bruno Mars. Because let’s be real! The 80’s seemed to be a dreamy time. We imagine grainy visions of prom night in an American public school, we imagine the melodramatic fantasies of the Cold War and the Space Age and the endearing possibility of life outside Earth, we imagine a typical teenager’s life with a soundtrack so kick-ass that the Beatles AND The Smiths find themselves in it. It can’t get better than that, can it?
Of course it can’t, because with a smart-phone in one hand and a lot of aimless ambition on the other, being a millennial is "difficult". We don’t bank the three digits on Instagram likes, we’re lacking cash and parental support to purchase the newest sneaker fad, and they’re creating a third film for the Now You See Me series…life doesn’t always cooperate and most times we would much rather live in memories we’ve been through in the past. We relive the past in our camera rolls, we revel in our “compositions” of old snapchat stories, we post throwback photos, we read old messages with people we thought we’ve forgotten. While this kind of nostalgia has been scientifically proven to positively help us form our own sense of identity and meaning, it has also been proven to detrimentally affect our sense of reality in correlation to the past.
The truth is that as millennials, we're not in love with the eighties, we're in love with what we think it's like. We’re in love with the idea that the high school jock is going to ask out the basket case to the school prom, we’re in love with the idea that our group of friends are going to unearth the monumental secret of an undercover research facility, and we are most definitely in love with the idea that somehow our boring lives will be salvaged by the fact that we are “the chosen ones”. We can thank our stock of quintessential 80s films (down below), music, books, comics or any other source of pop culture for fabricating this idea of awe towards what the past must have been like. However, if we try to devoid ourselves of all that we ACTUALLY know about what life must have TRULY been like in the 80s, we shouldn't be surprised to discover that we know very little about it. Try to imagine life in the 80s without that grainy filter in your mind. Difficult, isn't it?
Even if the internet is an awesome source for anything we might want to know about it, maybe the era’s cool reputation of artistic breakthrough is aided by the fact that its culture didn’t live in a world of information influx, nor did it revolve around the obsession of documenting every second of life with a smartphone. The eighties documented what it wanted and what it could, which is only a speck compared to the information and data that we can access today. After all, the less we know about something, the more prone we are to misjudging it.
The bitter truth is that our perception of the electric, wondrous and energetic era of the eighties is a recreated reality, influenced by the manifestations of its pop culture that has managed to withstand the test of time, whether it’s Dirty Dancing, David Bowie, or Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair. The beauty in that, however, is the comforting idea that the eighties will remain that way for as long as time can tell. No revelation of “historical secrets” from that era can contest the repute that the eighties has already set for itself by its pop culture. Madonna, Ferris Bueller, Molly Ringwald, Al Jarreau, Daniel-son, Marty McFly… whoever or whatever those names are to you, they are engraved in our misconceptions of the time they represent. Thank GOD it’s them.