If there’s one thing that I got from a cursory inspection of the news and trailers from Comic Con this past weekend, it’s that the spirit of the ’80s is alive and kicking. Stranger Things, Thor Ragnarok, and Ready Player One are all channeling the Decade of Me in their own way. Then there’s last year’s resurrection of the NES (and this year’s SNES), the popularity of which left no doubt that people are pretty fond of the games from those times.
I don’t mind; in fact, I am all about hanging on to the ’80s as much as possible as years continue to distance ourselves from that era. There was just something gloriously unique about this period, from the style to the music to the colors to the pop culture. My office has Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and Ghostbusters memorabilia decorated throughout, and I’m looking forward to when my kids are a little older and I can share Ferris Beuller and The Breakfast Club with them.
All of the reboots and period homages to the ’80s in pop culture lately has made me think about why the spirit of this decade is so strong right now. Practically, a lot of people who grew up or lived through the ’80s are in positions right now to create these TV shows, movies, and books. I think each generation holds tighter to their past when they feel it slipping away, and as we’re almost three full decades away from feathered hair and the height of MTV, it might have prompted some of these moves.
But that doesn’t account for the fondness that younger people seem to have with the ’80s, not as an era to look back and reflect on one’s childhood, but as an aesthetic that’s fun, different, and to be embraced. The cartoons and movies of the ’80s seemed a little crazier and more fun than a lot of what’s come since. There’s no “ownership” of an entire decade, after all, or any requirement that you actually had to live through it to adopt it today.
For me, I love these little bursts of nostalgia and representation. Since I was four through 14 during the ’80s, I can say that I grew up then but I wasn’t always in the river of pop culture. But when I see stuff like this, it takes me back for a moment to the things I do remember — the Atari 2600, seeing E.T. in the movie theater, garish Trapper Keepers, the sheer love we had of cartoons and their toys — and it warms my heart that it’s being remembered and honored and, yes, enjoyed today.