Music Video Generation | Italians | Fads
| Quotes | Shaving | Trivia Game
The above photo is of me in 1986 or 1987 during the Golden Age of Metal.
Today, I am known as "All About the 80s, Saki."
There are some
nice things about getting older. There are plenty of websites
that reflect on my generation, many of the good bands from my era have
greatest hits CDs, and lots of the one-hit-wonder bands have their hit
song on compilation CDs. I like listening to music from the
80's because it reminds me of "the good ole days." I think quite
a bit about my generation and what makes it unique.
Technically, I am near the beginning of Generation
X, which is the generation after the baby
boomers. I don't believe there is any clear definition of
who is and who isn't part of this generation but I've seen it written
that those born between 1965 and 1975 are of my generation since we
were no longer part of the baby boom high birthrate time period. (I was born in the Summer of Love.) After Generation X comes Generation Y,
naturally. So much for creativity.
I find that very often, each generation makes the same observations as
the previous generation, especially after a significant part of our
generation has given birth. Young generations experiment with
drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and sex. Nothing new. We complain
about the government, inflation, unemployment, the media, etc.
Still nothing new. So I ask what set my generation apart from the
others. The answer? Music video.
Though one might claim that music video has existed long before I was
old enough to flip an album, it really didn't gain popularity until the
early 80's, a very influential time in my life. All of a sudden,
music became both an audio and a visual experience. In some ways
this was good and in others it was bad. Like Jack Black says in School of Rock, the man ruined rock
'n' roll with a little something called MTV. During much of the
80's, bands had to have both the sound AND the look if they
wanted to make it big. Hence, some bands that might have had the
songwriting potential never made it because they didn't have the
look. Likewise, some say that others that just had the big hair
and the spandex became popular only because they had the look.
Regardless, music video is something that helped define my generation.
With music appealing to both the ears and the eyes, it also set a
certain mood for the young people of the 80's. Brightly colored
clothes and hair were more visible on camera than black leather
jackets. Along with the look came a certain feel...one of
optimism. People were tired of the negative attitudes of the
post-Vietnam era. In my generation, girls just wanted to have fun
[Cyndi Lauper] and as for me?...I just wanna rock [Twisted
Sister]. When times were tough, people organized and pulled their
resources to help each other out. Remember Live Aid, Band-Aid,
Farm Aid, Hear 'n Aid, "We are the World," "Do They Know It's Christmas?" "Stars" and Bob Geldof's work to help
the starving people of drought plagued Africa? It's easy to
complain and say someone should do something; it's quite another to
In the 90's, grunge came into popularity as a means of rebelling
against the 80's. No surprise there. It seems every few
years, a fad starts out small, gains popularity, then explodes into a
supernova, consuming all around it, burning, out and being replaced by
a fad that rebels against the last one. MTV turned into rap
video, as I call it. When they weren't playing rap videos,
they were showing reality television. The dominant influence of
music video as I knew it came to an end, being replaced by
sophisticated home computer games that made my generation's Atari look
like an old Model T. Attitudes changed also. The darker,
pessimistic sounds of bands like Alice in
Chains replaced the upbeat sounds of Poison
while the depressed Kurt Cobain, who
some saw as a leader of the grunge age, took his own life.
Hence, while you may call my generation Generation X, I often think the
Music Video Generation* is often
a more accurate and descriptive title. God how I miss those days. But I got to re-live them briefly when watching Rock of Ages (the musical).
* I hesitate
to say the MTV Generation since I and many others didn't have access to
MTV growing up since it was on cable television. However, there
were other shows like Friday Night Videos
that showed music videos on the public airwaves.
Have you ever noticed how cool it was to be Italian in the 1980s? Maybe it started in the late 70s with John Travolta who was Vinnie Bobarino on "Welcome Back Kotter" and also starred in "Saturday Night Fever." Then there was Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on "Happy Days." Also Rocky Balboa the "Italian Stallion." Don't forget Laverne DaFazio and Carmine Ragusa on "Laverne and Shirley." Who can forget Tony Banta and Louie DePalma on "Taxi." On Cheers, there was Ernie "Coach" Pantusso and Carla Tortelli. In music videos, take a look at the men that portray Madonna's boyfriends. They definitely look Italian.
Who why was it so cool to be Italian? Perhaps because the stereotype of Italian Americans is to be outgoing, confident, and vocal...all good characteristics for a character on television or movies. Unfortunately, I have not a drop of Italian in me. Perhaps if I did, my "coolness" score would increase significantly.
Some things become popular for no apparent reason. As I mentioned
earlier, there seems to be a certain cycle where fads are brand new,
gain in popularity, become mainstream, then are replaced by a new fad
that rebels against the old one. It is when a fad is just gaining
in popularity that it is cool is embrace and once it turns mainstream,
the cool people start to reject it. After about 20 years, many
fads become reborn. Certain looks and certain sounds which were
once "so yesterday" become nostalgic. Just watch an Old Navy
commercial and you'll notice that disco is now part of a marketing
scheme to encourage us to spend more. I only long for the day
when the sounds of Twisted Sister and Poison are once again embraced by
If you want to be rich, predict the next fad toy. For many a
Christmas, there was often one toy that most every child wanted.
There were Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo, Pokemon,
etc. I certainly never understood what made these toys so
appealing. Was it marketing? Perhaps a few "cool" kids
liked them and others soon jumped on the bandwagon. If you can
predict the next fad toy, or better yet, invent it, then you will
quickly be on your way to financial independence. Just be sure to
invest your profits wisely. The well will run dry quickly.
If you're a fitness instructor, there are plenty of fads on which you
can capitalize. Ever since the media showed Jimmy Carter jogging,
the public's attitude towards fitness has taken a new meaning.
Just appearing to be "in shape" wasn't enough. People needed to
be pro-active about their health. Ronald Reagan was filmed
splitting firewood, George Bush was filmed jogging, and even Bill
Clinton was filmed jogging (to McDonald's perhaps?). But jogging
wasn't enough. The public needed more options. Jane Fonda
and several others marketed aerobics tapes. Group exercise became
the standard at most gyms. Shortly after, step aerobics became
the latest craze to provide a greater challenge. For those
wanting less impact, water aerobics was an option. With the
public's short attention span and obsession with the latest fad, the
gyms marketed spinning, boot camp, and cardio kickboxing. But
even these options weren't enough. The fitness industry began to
market exercises from long ago: yoga, pilates, and belly dancing.
Similarly, the late night infomercials put out a new piece of abdominal
strengthening machine every few months. They all promised to give
us washboard abs, abs of steel, or at least a flat tummy. The
dieting industry was also on the bandwagon. The Atkins Diet, the
South Beach Diet, fat blockers, etc. The irony of it all is that
with all these options available for achieving the ideal body, we as a
nation are fatter than ever.
...there is nothing new under the sun.
- from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter one, verse nine
Yesterday's today was tomorrow and tomorrow, today will be yesterday.
- George Harrison
Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
-Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
This essay is a little long so I give it its own page. See Searching for the Perfect Shave.
1980s Trivia Game
Here is a fun party game for 6-20 people that I created. See Saki's 1980s Trivia Game.