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July 10, 2012 8:26 PM   Subscribe


 
Lord. I couldn't even get through all those. The eighties must be the worst decade in the 20th century for aesthetics, design and fashion. The music was pretty good though.
posted by orange swan at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


SLBF?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just saw the early 80s cult film THE FORBIDDEN ZONE over the weekend. It's so interesting how that film (with it's gorgeous yet crude black and white cinematography, it's bizarre plot and often disgusting visual gags) stands in contrast to these aesthetics.

The film (score by Oingo Boing era Danny Elfman, directed by his brother) definitely lives within the same 80s counterculture universe as punk with its dirt, grime and gleeful raunchiness. Of course, punk (and all of its cousins) make so much more sense after looking at the BuzzFeed page.
posted by You Guys Like 2 Party? at 8:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The music was pretty good though.

Nah, that pretty much all sucked also - we just happen to have hindsight on what all the good bits were.

Really the 80s needs to be remembered as the decade of action movies, family friendly adventure TV shows and the birth of home computing, and shunned for a lot of other things.
posted by Artw at 8:46 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I honestly cannot tell if this is serious or not. Are they being serious? Someone needs to tell me whether or not this is serious. Are they serious-serious, or just... what is going on, I am at the part where they say the sweaters were better, and they weren't, these sweaters are not better, not better at all, not at all.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


The music was pretty good though.

Nah, that pretty much all sucked also - we just happen to have hindsight on what all the good bits were.


Nonsense. The issue was that there was a rigid separation of good music from mainstream popular music that has never been so strictly enforced before or since.
posted by The World Famous at 8:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


22? You need only two. Airbrushes (real ones, not photoshop!) and attention spans. Every time I see any internet 'list' that includes the word Awesome I want to punch it's author in the face.
posted by Catblack at 8:49 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pizza Connection? PIZZA? SHOOT THAT SHIT DIRECTLY INTO MY VEINS FUCK YEAH! (seriously? Needle? Pizza? What?)

Also: I had this really wicked awesome computer graphics book, and it had that whole thermal imaging thing and it was so cool (and maybe it showed naked bodies and as a young boy, even maybe some rainbowy boobs was awesome to me)... But yeah... I'm so glad I was too young in the 80s to know all the horrid shit about like Reagan and shit, and only know the awesome shit like Human League and Depeche Mode and Tron. At least we had that, unlike today's kids who can't even have some sweet shit like that (well, ok, maybe Tron 2, but... was that as epic and awesome as the original?)
posted by symbioid at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I got through it all and I wanted more.

All of "Alf" is available on Hulu, by the way.

I don't care if they are serious, I AM SERIOUS, sometimes I just want to be free and all these trendy streamlined clean lines are getting in the way of my blood circulation and my desire to see anything other than black and grey and oh-so-neutral cream and the calculated "pop" of color...

Maybe you can't be you can't be young again. Maybe you can't get your favorite overalls with the neon vertical stripes that were shorts-length back. Maybe when I get my time travel permit I will have the 80's all to myself. But that will be fine.
posted by newg at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


BECAUSE T-REX WAS THERE
posted by bleep at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good god. It's no wonder I'm demented. I had blocked all of that "design" out of my head but now I remember.

NOW I REMEMBER.
posted by cooker girl at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


(sorry catblack, I used "awesome" in my paragraph, please don't punch me in the face).
posted by symbioid at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


#23- Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oingo Boingo, why haven't the kids discovered Oingo Boingo yet? Probably because they're a bunch of posers riding their skinny skateboards in their Air Jordans to go watch sensitive-guy acoustic country at the tractor. But yeah, there was a lot of cool in the 80s, that this list totally misses. The rise of skateboard culture, hip hop, skinny ties, cool hats, electronic pop music.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:52 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


(it's not.)
posted by Artw at 8:52 PM on July 10, 2012


It's the 80's
posted by hellojed at 8:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


My problem with the '80s design I remember is the darkness. Seems like everything is washed in a layer of shadow, especially the "tech" designs. I like my futurism bright and optimistic, but so much of that decade's vision was stark and dingy, and depressing. Even when I think of '80s movies I tend to think of bleak cityscapes, neon, and pollution. And Vangelis. Ugh, Vangelis.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2012


Lots of airbrushing, chrome, triangle sprinkles and disembodied mascara'd eyes. Probably because of my age, I still gag when I see this kind of design.

The "It's the Final Countdown" dinosaur is the odd one out. Also -1 for "randomest shit".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:56 PM on July 10, 2012


Hey, I had that sheet and comforter set! Sadly I think it was the 90s by the time I got hep to such cutting-edge design.
posted by chinston at 8:56 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was easy to live in the 80s — all you had to do was push, push, and struggle.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:57 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because Designing Women?
posted by PapaLobo at 9:05 PM on July 10, 2012


I'm pretty sure about one in four of those images were actually covers from issues of OMNI.
posted by escabeche at 9:05 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


I can definitely vouch for the total awesomeness of the sweaters. German exchange students always had the BEST sweaters, as I recall. And stickers were a huge deal. Lisa Frank 4 Ever!
posted by medeine at 9:05 PM on July 10, 2012




What's of clear interest here is how little CAD was actually involved, while illustration skills were so highly valued. The lack of photoshop forced people to actually draw things; and, not everyone being a Picasso, this created a wide variety of quality of illustration.

We won't see a lot of this ever again because our ability to push pixels has pushed this form of illustration off the page.
posted by Neale at 9:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I lost it at the kid riding the praying mantis. Missing Patrick Nagel posters.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You may hate it but rest assured that there are a zillion teenagers out there who love love love that 80s design aesthetic. In another decade or so you'll probably be able to get a burger at the '80s equivalent of Johnny Rockets or whatever. The '50s are going to be a literal century ago before much longer.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you sit down at a Scott Adams' graphic adventure

...What you lose in your mortality and your mom loses in her shirt, your dad gains in facial hair. And yes, some good music IMO--I unironically love a fair bit of New Wave.

A dog unicorn. Really? REALLY?!
posted by smirkette at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's always 1987.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2012


This definitely looks like Lisa Frank, which was most certainly the 90s.
posted by codacorolla at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2012


Ettore Sottsass, Swatch, Bennetton, Pee Wee's Playhouse, and Eddie Van Halen's guitar all had this manic enthusiasm that was sort of necessary when you lived with the threat of global nuclear destruction. Even the underground comics had sprinkle explosions.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Catblack - Every time I see any internet 'list' that includes the word Awesome I want to punch it's author in the face.

You'll be pleased to hear about this new list I'm working on, "The Ten Most Awesome Ways to Get Punched In the Face"
posted by jason_steakums at 9:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I had forgotten the rampant surrealism, however. Along with the motifs of geometric shapes, that was interesting to see in retrospect.
posted by smirkette at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2012


Man, psychedelic is not that hard to spell.
posted by braksandwich at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


13. They had a disturbing, dystopian view of the future.

When I was a kid, every depiction of TV in the future was that it would be gladiator combat and wall-to-wall porn. Today, the most popular shows on TV are singing and dancing contests.

Maybe it's because global thermonuclear war was, you know, a thing back then. My friends and I kinda thought we were lucky because we lived near a primary Soviet target. Nowadays it's like you kids think school loans are like the worst thing EVAR.

My lawn. Get off it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


Needs an Iron Maiden album cover.
posted by swift at 9:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


The 80s were awesome because Joe Strummer was still alive.

And LSD was cheap and everywhere.

That's pretty much it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I dunno, I don't think they're that bad. We need more randomness and metaphor in commercial art, not less.

Open the floodgates! Henry Kissinger's face on a tabby cat! A Corvette driven by mole men! Thirty ballerinas dancing back into a black hole! Scooby-Doo winking at us from a swirling toilet bowl! YES!

I can't help but think a lot of these illustrations came from old computer magazines. There was this one called Family Computing I've been thinking about lately that I think I'm vaguely remembering a couple of these from.
posted by JHarris at 9:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I adored the 1980s for these 10 reasons:

* Turned 14
* Turned 15
* Turned 16
* Turned 17
* Turned 18
* Turned 19
* Turned 20
* Turned 21
* Turned 22
* Turned 23

Also, it turns out the 1985 18-year-old inside my head still has a crush on c. 1985 L----. Fossil crushes? Who knew.

(Perhaps the saddest thing I've discovered about middle-age is the occasional desire to just be 18 one more time--to live in that summer after high school graduation, with the new adventure of college on the horizon...everyone looks and feels great, you can feel your brain sucking in (and retaining!) new ideas and information at a prodigious rate, and no matter what minor crap is going on in your day-to-day existence you just know things are going to be better, probably soon. There will be success and romance and lovely adventures and lovely things.

That conviction that big, cool, exciting, wonderful things are on the way seems pretty far away from me, now, a lot of the time. It's not that life is bad, it's that you can picture how the rest is going to go, and the predictability of it is a bit of a letdown.)
posted by maxwelton at 9:58 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


This definitely looks like Lisa Frank, which was most certainly the 90s.

Lisa Frank was around in the 80s as well as the 90s. Those stickers look like 80s Lisa Frank to me.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay but that unicorn dog is the real deal.
posted by Mizu at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]




The 80s aesthetic is electric energy. The frizz hair-do plugged into a wall socket. The electric colors. The opposite of the downbeat depressive 70s, morning in America. The digital computer aesthetic was beginning to form at the same time, a synthesizing combination, like the synthetic pop music. It is still with us in the form of the digital (electric) aesthetic, the 80s should rightly be seen as seminal since digital will be with us for a long time yet.
posted by stbalbach at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


oh shit is she wearing a spirit hood.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who don't like this stuff: I respect your opinions, which are so very different to mine
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dude, I had a bunch of those in my trapper keeper, but then one day I had some hot pink Zinka on my fingers and I ruined them.

I love this stuff.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 10:34 PM on July 10, 2012


This definitely looks like Lisa Frank, which was most certainly the 90s.

Lisa Frank was around in the 80s as well as the 90s. Those stickers look like 80s Lisa Frank to me.

Yep. I was born in 1978 and I definitely had a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper in elementary schoo.
posted by lunasol at 10:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my big regrets about clothes I should have kept long enough for them to become vintage is shirts in those 80s designs (particularly the black and neon and a black and white "tribal" look--sorry, that's what we called fauxthnic prints in the 80s). Sadly my chest, and probably everything else, got too big for them. Now I'd have them taken in at the waist and wear them with a cami and the haters could suck it.

Also I miss my Member's Own leather jacket. I'd wear it again in a minute for the 3 minutes of cold we have here.
posted by immlass at 10:44 PM on July 10, 2012


Oh dear. I know I had at least one shirt that would fit in with these.
posted by deborah at 10:49 PM on July 10, 2012


maxwelton: "Perhaps the saddest thing I've discovered about middle-age is the occasional desire to just be 18 one more time--to live in that summer after high school graduation, with the new adventure of college on the horizon...everyone looks and feels great, you can feel your brain sucking in (and retaining!) new ideas and information at a prodigious rate, and no matter what minor crap is going on in your day-to-day existence you just know things are going to be better, probably soon. There will be success and romance and lovely adventures and lovely things. "

And all this time I though that was just a TV/Movie trope.
posted by wierdo at 10:53 PM on July 10, 2012


In another decade or so you'll probably be able to get a burger at the '80s equivalent of Johnny Rockets or whatever.

This was one of the scenes in Back To The Future II.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:56 PM on July 10, 2012


For real though? Off the top of my head... Neville Brody (i-D Magazine), Peter Saville (Factory Records) and 23 Envelope (who did all (?) the artwork for 4AD Records).
First links got to Wiki pages, the second to Google image search for the person.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:58 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, every depiction of TV in the future was that it would be gladiator combat and wall-to-wall porn. Today, the most popular shows on TV are singing and dancing contests.

Funny, all I seem to get on TV is Spartacus.
posted by chavenet at 11:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


weirdo, the important bit to remember is not that anything amazing happened in that summer, but it felt like it might be just around the corner. That's the part I miss. Plus, you know, physically being 18.
posted by maxwelton at 11:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, wait, Brody was art director with "The Face" and "Arena." i-D was Terry Jones. oops.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:03 PM on July 10, 2012


I'm so sorry about disco. It wasn't my fault, but I'm sorry anyhow. Sorry sorry sorry.

Max Headroom was cool.
posted by mule98J at 11:11 PM on July 10, 2012


Cool Papa Bell: "When I was a kid, every depiction of TV in the future was that it would be gladiator combat and wall-to-wall porn. Today, the most popular shows on TV are singing and dancing contests."

Well, we have "Jersey Shore", which is admittedly pretty close.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:22 PM on July 10, 2012


In the Year of the Shite Olympics...
posted by Artw at 11:33 PM on July 10, 2012




This article pretty much sums up the cultural feelings on "hipsters". This weird "isn't this awesome??" sarcastic irony about things we've grown out of entirely, and we're mostly embarrassed to admit we ever liked in the first place.

Rather than a nostalgic look back, or perhaps a more honest "look what silly people we were, let's laugh at ourselves" retrospective, this is presented as if we're NOW being foolish for not sarcastically enjoying the product of its time.

The 80s was a period where computers were being realized and actualized, and we felt like we were on the precipice of "the future" - that future that had been talked about and fantasized by sci-fi and shows like Beyond 2000 and we were waaay too excited about it, so we tried jump ahead of the game, and ended up looking silly for it.

There's no need to pretend the culture was "awesome" and forward-thinking. That was just people being excited about new toys the way a child would be. And, that's pretty much the whole of the 80s. Those of us who were children in that time might be nostalgic, but let's not pretend it's anything more than a wish that we were young and naive again.

That being said, it sure beats the design aesthetic of the 70s.
posted by revmitcz at 12:16 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The mauve! I remember the mauve.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:32 AM on July 11, 2012


escabeche: I'm pretty sure about one in four of those images were actually covers from issues of OMNI.

Or the 80's ghost of Psychology Today.

The last half of the seventies were depressing as hell. Oil embargoes, the Carter Malaise, 444 days of hostages in Iran, DISCO, totally useless job market, and getting blown to Kingdom Come Any Day Now.

Reagan's election in 1980 really was a total reversal of outlook, starting with the hostages. It's really no wonder everything exploded in rainbows and unicorns. His second term, however...

Technically, it all only lasted until October 7, 1987, which was the day the market crashed big time and brought the party to an end. It really didn't get going again until the rise of the dot.coms in the nineties. By then, we were battle-toughened and way too cynical to go back to rainbows and unicorns.

We had sock puppets for PetSmart.com instead.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:05 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like the video for "Hazy Shade of Winter" should be posted under #16. Televisions.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:14 AM on July 11, 2012


Still by Joy Division was the first thing I owned that I knew was a beautiful object - it not only looked exquisite, but was tactile (printed on raw card), and surprisingly heavy (which made it more of a "real thing"). Of course, the impression was completely spoiled by playing the actual record, but I've not made the mistake of doing that in over thirty years and am still glad that somewhere I have one of these beautiful things.
posted by Grangousier at 2:42 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Max Headroom was cool.

"Remember we used to say 'No Future'? Well, this is it."
posted by Grangousier at 2:45 AM on July 11, 2012


Like most decades, so much of the 80s was either rebuffing a prior era (namely the 70s) or fetishizing a prior era (50s rehash… 20s rehash). I didn't notice it so much in these images, but do you remember the complete revival of the art deco style? (I guess Nagel somehow fits in with that motif… I'm no art historian). I also quite liked some of the reactionary aspects of the 80s in retaliation to the shitty 70s.

80s short hair or 50s rehashes vs. 70s : mistaking men for women from behind (a common schticky 70s television joke mocking the "long hairs"). even the conservatives had shaggy hair and stupid muttonchops. the 80s changed that.

80s tapered clothing (pants, fitted shirts, shoulder pads, narrow ties, cuffed trousers, clingy parachute pants) vs. 70s long and flowing kimonos (WTF?!), long and flowing bell bottom jeans, big fat ties, velour everything

80s colors (neon, neon, neon… or muted grays, mauves, purples) vs. 70s "earth" tones: you can get a fridge in any color! (so long as you like the colors called mustard, avocado, or beef stew brown). Lots of golden yellow everywhere. After that decade, the neon, as gaudy as it was, was a welcome retreat. The only army green we wore in the 80s was ironically in the form of military clothing, usually with West or East German patches on the arm. .

80s music (staccato, Fender single coil pickups, synthesizers, synthesizers, synthesizers, clean guitar sounds, delay pedals, sequencers, robotic, new sounds, drum machines, shorter songs, mohawks, 20s nostalgia, 50s nostalgia, one drummer, stray cat's drummer used a kick and a snare and nothing more, sheila E played a couple of percussion instruments, electronic drums pew pew pew) VS. 70s music (the longer the sustain the better, what your guitar has only ONE neck?, two drummers? who the fuck wants TWO drummers? did i mention sustain? Gibson Les Pauls galore. Synthesizers and organs, but you only have three? I have twelve! albums of epic proportions, sagas, prog, virtuosity, wait, you only have one keyboardist? why not two? wait, did you just say that your bass has only one neck too? get with the program "man"! 80s minimalism vs. 70s excess.

so, in these pics, i see a lot of art deco and 50s rehash. but i also see futurism. why bleak futurism as some have mentioned? it was literally 1984, right? listen to jello biafra from the 80s and you'll understand.
posted by readyfreddy at 3:42 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


My theory is the 80s never happened and you can't convince me otherwise.
posted by tommasz at 5:15 AM on July 11, 2012


The 80's sucked.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was one of the scenes in Back To The Future II.

"Welcome to the Cafe 80's, where it's always morning in America, even in the afternoo-noo-noon".

(PepsiCo, you've got three more years to get Pepsi Perfect out on the shelves. Just rename Pepsi Max if you have to, I know it's not vitamin-enriched, but unless you already have a formula you're pushing through the FDA approval cycle, renaming Max will be close enough.)
posted by radwolf76 at 5:37 AM on July 11, 2012


Alright, but where is my hoverboard?!
posted by Skeptic at 5:42 AM on July 11, 2012


I imagine it'll be torches and pitchforks at Mattel headquarters if they fail to deliver.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:03 AM on July 11, 2012


How did I know that "They really knew how to portray the human body in fantastical ways." would mean "naked women?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:04 AM on July 11, 2012


PepsiCo, you've got three more years to get Pepsi Perfect out on the shelves

Brawndo will kick its toilet-water ass.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:11 AM on July 11, 2012


Can't wait for all the Katy Perry stage and video design whatnot (which don't look much different than some of this) posted to sites like this in the future, or future spoofs of 2010s list/link bait sites, or spoofs of commercials for computers aimed at would-be electronic music producers, or semi-affectionate, semi-snarky homages/spoofs of dated electronic music, etc.
posted by raysmj at 6:31 AM on July 11, 2012


I should have looked at the URL before I clicked, but I was actually disappointed by this. I guess I was hoping for an actual defense of the 80's design aesthetic (whatever that means). Instead we just got a bunch of context free adverts that seem ridiculous to us surely more enlightened 21st centurions. It's easy to point back and laugh. Make it a challenge and put the neon in perspective for me.
posted by Think_Long at 6:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, the smooth airbrushed fantasias of the intended capabilities of a computer, versus the chunky and harshly colored reality on the screen. We show you fireworks and deliver a cap gun. And the cap guns were fun enough that the contrast didn't seem to matter.
posted by bendybendy at 6:53 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lisa Frank was around in the 80s as well as the 90s. Those stickers look like 80s Lisa Frank to me.

Alright, point taken.
posted by codacorolla at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2012


For a lot of us, a stylistically distinctive era carries a shitload of personal baggage. I see this stuff, and associate it with the time of my life that was crippled by uncertainty and nihilism. I took no solace in the design trends of the time and still translate them as vapid and ugly, a reflection of where I was at the time more than any inherent aesthetic value.

My youngest sister, otoh, a child at the time, and now my kids, seem to get a kick from the airbrushed angularity and eye popping neon colors from the time. I suppose it's the same way with me and the 70s, vs the way my Mom views that era.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:10 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lord. I couldn't even get through all those. The eighties must be the worst decade in the 20th century for aesthetics, design and fashion. The music was pretty good though.

Oh no, the 80s were garish and ridiculous, but the 80s were awesome. Kids today can't get enough of the 80s, and if I could, I'd go back (as long as I can bring my girlfriend with me). Movies, music, fashion, politics, all terrible... all unforgettable, even if you wish you could.
posted by justgary at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2012


do you remember the complete revival of the art deco style

yes, and as a result some people in my town value this marquee because it is "art deco". Sometimes I want to punch the 80s.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:27 AM on July 11, 2012


I lived through this the first time. I wince.

What strikes me as funny about this smorgasbord of 80s style is how derivative most of the stuff already was in the 80s. All that surreal stuff, like penguins popping out of computers and a silhouette of a head with a doorway in goes back to the 1960s, which was already derivative of MC Escher (who was doing that stuff in the 1950s).

And the "sprinkle explosion" look was really just a retread of 1950s googie architecture and boomerang furniture and shit like that.
posted by adamrice at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Think_Long: Make it a challenge and put the neon in perspective for me.

That's what we ancient ones are for, Grasshopper. I graduated high school in 1976.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2012


Make it a challenge and put the neon in perspective for me.

Here are a slide show and notes from a lecture on post-modernist design. Here is an essay, which I admit I've only skimmed, that gives a good explanation of post-modernism in the first seven paragraphs.

And here is a collection of MTV logos, because they were mentioned in the slide show.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's no need to pretend the culture was "awesome" and forward-thinking. That was just people being excited about new toys the way a child would be.

That is what's awesome about it. I look at the innocense and excitement and mourn in tremendously now.

(But I was child in the '80's and a teenager in the dark, depressing '90's. Which was fitting because it made the arc of my hormones perfect match the arc of popular culture historical progression. But I means that '80's nostalgia ~ especially a little girl rocking a red leather MJ-esque zipper festooned jacket and giant sunglasses ~ will make me think, "awesome" and remind of a time when it still seemed possible that I would be the first female Prime Minister of the world and an artist and a fashion designer all at once, before boring adult reality set in and learned me that one can only somewhat awesome, and usually only on your off-work hours.)
posted by Kurichina at 8:25 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This looks like OMNI magazine threw up.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are right about one thing. The commercials were way better.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


... yup, I still hate that entire decade.
posted by kyrademon at 9:14 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a commercial narrative, an official nostalgia, of the 80s that is well represented on that page. But I lived in the 80s, and discovered amazing things then, and they had nothing to do that OMNI magazine cover junk. Yeah, that stuff was around, but no-one I knew bought it.

The 80s are the first decade where I can personally swear that the official story and my experience are utterly different. And it's really made me wonder how much I've missed from the 60s, 50s, 40s, etc. that didn't make it in to the official narrative.

[And just to give a contrast to halfbuckaroo's "Seven years of party" version of Reagan, the people I hung out with knew immediately that he was an idiot, and very quickly learned that he would fuck up the environment, gleefully raise the risks of nuclear war, facilitate deaths among those working for social justice in Central America, and fuck over the working man in favor of his rich friends.]
posted by benito.strauss at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the distinctive 80s-ness of every last example boils down to "art wasn't done on a computer." Someone actually had to paint that thing, with... paints. Probably with an actual physical airbrush. That you hold in your hand...

22. They incorporated a lot of rainbows.

Rainbows were for kids. It was the "spectrum" that was futuristic :)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:53 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I've always wanted to say this on the Internet, and finally I have my chance... here goes...

WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN

Ah, that felt good. Thanks for your support.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 11:06 AM on July 11, 2012


I'm pretty sure that's a crop from a Choose Your Own Adventure.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What strikes me as funny about this smorgasbord of 80s style is how derivative most of the stuff already was in the 80s. All that surreal stuff, like penguins popping out of computers and a silhouette of a head with a doorway in goes back to the 1960s, which was already derivative of MC Escher (who was doing that stuff in the 1950s).

I think (though i'm no expert) that this is a common trajectory for a lot of design aesthetics. contemporary artists of the time often pioneer a lot of the ideas we later see assimilated in mainstream design culture. Sometimes I'll discover a great new artist and wonder to myself "how long before i see something like this at urban outfitters?"

I imagine it going something like this: "Hip brands" hire bright-eyed, fresh art school grads who have a strong awareness of contemporary art and art history. They create something that (sometimes self-consciously, sometimes not) references or nods to that fine art visual style. Then, like a game of design telephone, the slightly less hip brand takes their lead from the hip brand, and makes a derivative of that derivative. And so on and so on, until JC Penny is selling t-shirts that kind of, sort of resembles the kind of stuff paperrad was doing 10 years ago.

I've often thought that tracking an art aesthetic from art gallery to mall would be a great and interesting topic to research, but I would have no idea where to begin.
posted by chriscollins at 11:13 AM on July 11, 2012


Yeah, I vaguely remember that Choose Your Own Adventure. I think the premise is you suddenly get millions of dollars, so what do you do with it? One branch did result in meeting aliens that ate money for some reason.
posted by RobotHero at 11:30 AM on July 11, 2012


The maniacally delighted kid with wads of cash and multi-headed aliens is actually from the cover of a Twistaplot book, Instant Millionaire.
posted by redsparkler at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "digital aesthetic" can be compared with the "machine aesthetic" (or "industrial aesthetic"), aka Art Deco, that began in France around the turn of the century.
posted by stbalbach at 12:04 PM on July 11, 2012


Cold Fusion. Yeah, Cooooooooold Fuuuuuuuusion! It was real back then.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Needs more Lamborghini Countach.

2) Needs less Salvador Dali.
posted by NortonDC at 2:09 PM on July 11, 2012


Where does this image under the dystopias heading come from?
posted by Lighthammer at 3:19 PM on July 11, 2012


> The 80's sucked.

Sure they did. But also they didn't suck, just like all decades suck and don't suck depending on what you're pointing your nose at. (High on my list of didn't-suck, Personal Composer did amazingly well on plain old DOS. Even more amazing, it did just as well in Unix (System V r3.2 for i386), running in the VPix emulator. I tried and tried but could not detect any performance hit. Really memorable lack of suck IMHO.)


> The lack of photoshop forced people to actually draw things; and, not everyone being a Picasso,
> this created a wide variety of quality of illustration.

No Photoshop, but you could do some fairly remarkable stuff (for the day) in PC Paintbrush. In fact, don't lots of these cheesy illos look to you like people discovering "Hey, you can do cheesy paste-up a lot easier in software than you can with rubber cement"? They sure look like that to me.


> a silhouette of a head with a doorway in goes back to the 1960s, which was already derivative of MC
> Escher (who was doing that stuff in the 1950s).

I'm sure I detect a leeetle bit of Magritte and Man Ray and guys like that from the 1920s and 1930s.
posted by jfuller at 4:36 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The maniacally delighted kid with wads of cash and multi-headed aliens is actually from the cover of a Twistaplot book, Instant Millionaire.

Written by R.L. Stine, eh?
posted by RobotHero at 10:32 PM on July 11, 2012


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