08 October 2013

the grass is always greener.

When the 1980s began, preparing to unleash its firestorm of neon, hair spray, and cum-splattered acid washes on an unsuspecting public, I was just eight years old. So I guess you could say that the better part of my 'formative years' (or, rather, deformative years) are owed to that fateful, Swatch-guarded decade. 

As 'wonder years' go, I'm sure there could've been much worse. Consider the poor kids from the 1340s by way of contrast. You think acne is bad?  Try asking Winnie Cooper out on a date when you come down with the Black Death and large boils—endlessly seeping a thick pinkish amalgam of pus and blood—start appearing under your armpits and around your groin. See what good 10% benzoyl peroxide cream does you when your fingers turn black from gangrene and your skin eventually falls off. (That zit you had on your nose for class photos doesn't sound so bad now, does it?) And then what's your reward for enduring a week's worth of agony and suffering—without the benefit of a Walkman or The Cosby Show, I might add? Oh. You get to die. But before you finally shuffle off that mortal coil, maybe you'll serve as yet another link in the chain of misery and death overtaking the continent by infecting a few friends and family members. Then, at long last, you'll only be remembered as a worst-case-scenario statistic for some twat writing a blog over 600 years later.

Yay for you. Not exactly yearbook material, is it? Before you try to imagine how awful life must have been before cellphones, think about that for a while. Texting your bff an emoji sort of becomes irrelevant after your face falls off. I'm not advising you to look at the bright side—because I am surely no bright-side looker myself—but context is always important. When I'm complaining that the iPhone doesn't have Swype, I try to remember that a hundred years I might have died from diarrhea. 

But let's return to the 1980s for a minute. While there were undeniably some great features of the decade—the decline of the Soviet empire, the introduction of the space shuttle, the musical career of Samantha Fox—I don't recall the decade very fondly (on the whole). I realize that the notion of decades as unified, demarcated temporal-cultural units is preposterous when you think about it. The 1980s are only the 1980s because we say, 'Those were the 1980s.' There isn't anything intrinsically distinct about this ten-year period. It's an artificial framework that has been laid over whatever happened to occur.

I'm bringing this up because every time I go to youtube to watch a music video of a 1980s song, I inevitably come across one of those cultural nostalgia comments left by some drooling idiot who probably posted it during computer hour at the mental institution. Why do I read youtube comments? They are the single greatest anecdotal argument against the advancement of the human species. But in the same way some people have to look at a car crash when they're driving down the road, I have to look at the car crash of humanity—and where better to find it than in the comments section of youtube (or the comments section of any given news organization's website). It's truly impressive how stupid, mean-spirited, and utterly useless most people are.

For many years, we didn't know just how dumb the populace was. I mean, we knew people were dumb, but we didn't know the frightening pervasiveness of the dumbness. Then the internet was invented by Al Gore and we were suddenly provided a prime vantage from which to see all the dumbness sprawling all around us. It isn't that the internet exacerbated the dumbness or the mean-spiritedness; it just showed us more of it than we were ever likely to see in our limited travels on this planet.

Case in point: If you go to any music video from an earlier decade on youtube, you will very likely see a comment somewhere below it claiming that '[that decade] is when they made REAL music... not like this Lady Gaga shit today.' Or something to that effect. 

I really want to find each person who has ever posted something like this and piss in his or her face. I'm not really sure why. Don't lots of people have (irrational) affections for the past? It isn't particularly unusual. Most of us can point to a specific time in our lives that we thought was our 'golden age' of innocence, and many of the more feeble-minded among us will extrapolate this innocence to the decade during which it occurred.

All the same, I'm fascinated (in a negative way) with the kind of mentality that feels compelled to post the following comments. To all of you nimrods: I lived during the 1980s! The whole decade! It wasn't that great. Clothes and hairstyles were particularly ugly. (Not as ugly as the 1970s, but still.) It was, generally speaking, a bad decade for film. Republicans were in the White House the whole ten years. And Phil Collins was actually popular—which no amount of rationalization or memory repression can erase from our cultural history. We're all to blame. 


  1. I have to know what song that was. the pat benetar menstrual flow comment was the greatest.

    1. I'm pretty sure it was 'Love Is a Battlefield.' :)

    2. I was just about to make this exact comment! (about pat benatar's menstrual flow having a greater degree of intelligence than miley virus; not that I needed to know the song title).

      I have officially reached the depths of my uselessness on the Internet!

  2. I have to know what song that was. the pat benetar menstrual flow comment was the greatest.

  3. Happy birthday, David!

  4. No self portrait this year?