Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Enlightenment from the ’80s

When you turn 18, you can vote and buy cigarettes and lottery tickets.

When you turn 19, you can go to bars in Iowa (but not drink there).

When you turn 21, you can drink, gamble and be considered an adult.


What do you get when you turn 22? All the good milestone birthdays are gone, leaving only 30, 40, 50, etc. You already get to do everything you’d want to do, aside from running for president, so there are no age-restricted excitements in the future.

While I was deciding how I should feel about this seemingly pointless birthday, I realized that I am starting to feel old.

VH1 recently aired a series of specials entitled “I Love the ’80s!” There is an hour-long episode for each year, each detailing the music, movies, television, fashion and various toys that made the decade great.

As I watched the 1984 episode, I was suddenly struck with the realization that I feel old. Though 1984 was almost 20 years ago, I vividly remember a lot of what was apparently cool back then.

I remember when I got my first Cabbage Patch doll (he was bald and named Melvin). I remember owning several Strawberry Shortcake dolls, which still smell like artificial fruit to this day.

I remember watching new episodes of “Family Ties” and being crushed when Alex graduated and the series came to an end.

I used to sit on the kitchen floor and spin around, claiming that I was break dancing.

Over Christmas break, faced with the daunting task of keeping myself busy in a town of 2,500 people, I ventured into my parents’ basement and flipped through my collection of records (yes, records) from my younger years.

I experienced great feelings of nostalgia upon coming across the “We Are The World” album I listened to several times a day, the “Ghostbusters” theme song 7-inch, and more Sesame Street records than I care to mention.

Yes, it was fun to reminisce about putting Michael Jackson on a pedestal without knowing any of his songs, claiming to love the Pointer Sisters because my older, cooler cousin did and memorizing the “Ghostbusters” single even though I wasn’t allowed to watch the movie.

Several of the records in my collection came with McDonald’s Happy Meals ? most memorably, a book-on-record that tells “Part 2” of the “Gremlins” movie. Several were given to me at Sunday School and are floppy and filled with church songs.

But then it struck me ? I listened to RECORDS. I didn’t listen to them because I held the classic belief that everything just sounds better on vinyl; I listened to them because, besides cassette tapes, there was simply no other medium for recorded music.

All this slightly bitter nostalgia is compounded by the fact that ’80s paraphernalia is “in” right now. I have a theory about such things ? it takes 20 years for trends to resurface. Just look at what happened in the ’90s when boot-cut jeans came back into style.

If one walks into Ragstock, Hot Topic and assorted other stores that cater to the “alternative” population, one is bombarded with t-shirts, lunchboxes, stickers, underwear and patches featuring the likes of The Goonies, Rainbow Brite, Knight Rider and Transformers.

Whenever I see these items, I start to think like an old person: “You know, I remember the good old days, when you could buy the originals, not cheap reprints.” “Most of these people weren’t even born when that show was on!” Sadly, had I invested in a She-Ra t-shirt in 1984, it would probably be so “vintage” now that it would be worth some real money.

A quick glance at eBay lends further evidence to my theory. A search for “She-Ra” brings up 220 results, ranging from dolls to videos to accessories.

On one of my frequent trips to Savers, I recently came across a Beta tape of “Saturday Night Fever.” After having a good laugh at the irrelevance of such an item in today’s DVD society, I promptly bought it for $2 and reveled in my useless, kitschy purchase.

Then, of course, I remembered that someday people younger than myself will look at relics from our culture, like VHS tapes, CDs and desktop computers and laugh. I also remembered that when I was young, the local video store was divided into separate sections for VHS, Beta and Atari games.

The point is, everything that was once cool will indeed be cool again. And while I feel slightly dated when it comes to my knowledge of Care Bears, “Sixteen Candles” and the real story behind Banana Man’s powers, I can still be content with the fact that I grew up with a lot of interesting, groundbreaking stuff.

Legwarmers and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts notwithstanding, of course.

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