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How We Got Here – The ’80’s On Film

I was wandering through the supermarket last Saturday when I caught myself humming along to the Muzak being piped into the dairy cooler, it was a MIDI computer track of “Faithfully” by Journey.

It was a cruel moment of reality.

When I was a kid the supermarket didn’t play cool songs, they played songs that my mom liked.  I remember hearing her discover and then exclaim, “This is ‘A Boy Named Sue’ by Johnny Cash” in almost the same manner that I did.

On Saturday I realized that the Supermarket plays songs relevant to their target market and that over time I gradually became part of the grocery demographic.

It’s easy to forget that today’s cultural landscape was also forged by events that took place gradually, over time.  To understand why today is the way it is you have to take into account what happened in the many days leading up to the one you are currently living in.

As the internet emerges as the new primary culture shaping medium I’m looking back at the medium that initiated the most powerful change at the end of the 20th century: Hollywood Film.

This is a list of 10 culture shaping films of the 1980’s, one for each calendar year of the decade of decadence.  It isn’t a list of the “best”, “top grossing” or, “most popular” (although many are in those categories) but a list of the movies that defined the ’80’s and set the stage for the world we are now living in.  It is by no means comprehensive.

These are the movies that led us to where we are today: (more…)

A Helping of Courage


If giving up something precious meant guaranteed your success in life, what is it that you would let go of and forever walk away from?  When you think of an answer to this question, you don’t immediately begin to think of handing me things like your safety and health or livelihood do you?

This is the question being asked by the movie “The Help”, and if you are alive, human, and have 8 dollars you should definitely take 2 hours and 12 minutes out of your life to let it interrogate you.

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, the movie places its focus on the early 1960s (get used to this trend) and the plight of the African-American maid.  Two of these maids engage in the risky business of telling their life stories to a struggling, young, white, unmarried, journalist.  While the backdrop of the film is Jim Crow Era Mississippi, racism isn’t the real monster that the movie confronts.

If it were, it would be an easier film to watch.


This Golden Age

This has not been a great week for our globe.  The rioting in Europe working in conjunction with the U.S. credit downgrade have joined with the uncertainty of our new global economy to create an anxious stare in the eyes of even the most optimistic of people.  This is the kind of week that makes people openly pine for “the good old days”.

“The Good Old Days”, you remember them right?  They were a time when things seemed so certain, people were more trustworthy, and music was so much more meaningful.  During the “Good Old Days” you didn’t worry about things like calories or fat content, interest rates or balloon payments, you just enjoyed life because it was quite simply better.

Obviously I’m talking about the Reagan years.

Or did you think that I was talking about the British Invasion ’60’s?

For some of you it was the Wally and Beaver era ’50’s.

Depending on your age, the time period we’re talking about is different, but the feelings are the same aren’t they?  When we think back on the “Good Old Days”, we both experience the same feelings, even though you may be remembering HALO while I remember Burgertime, and a grandparent is thinking of a hoop and a stick.


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