7 min read
The question ‘Is 80s Culture Still Around Today?’ seems, frankly, a bit superfluous. 40 years on from the decade of headbands and Duran Duran, 80s pop culture continues to provide heavy and continuous influences in today’s society.
From blockbuster hits to headbanging tunes, the 80s injected a new life into an otherwise serious world that we’ve rarely seen from any decade since.
To see 80s influence you don’t even need to search very far, just look at some of the most recent and upcoming blockbuster hits. Indiana Jones, The Terminator, even Mad Max all originated in the 80s. The first 4 notes of the infamous Indiana Jones theme tune composed by John Williams are instantly recognisable to even the modern-day teen. One of the most popular and well-recognised franchises on the planet – the Star Wars Saga – had its original trilogy released in the early 1980s.
Since then it’s come to dominate modern culture, with new TV shows, movies and spinoffs being released seemingly every month. There is no breath more famous than the sinister, mechanical tones of Darth Vader as he emerges through the smoke to board Princess Leia’s transport ship in A New Hope. Even beyond cinema giants such as Star Wars, some of our favourite pop culture references are rooted even in the more obscure flics from days past that don’t have entire theme parks dedicated to them. Top Gun is a wonderful example of an 80s film that hasn’t aged a day. The callsigns Maverick and Goose have been forever imprinted into cinema legend, but remain somewhat obscure to the modern teen.
Despite the heavy influence on modern cinema, 80s culture extends far beyond this. Take music for example. The 80s was the first decade to fully utilise advanced technology in the creation of music, leading to the sounds of synthesisers and other digital manipulations of sound to take front and centre in many of the top tracks of the time. Bands such as the Pet Shop Boys brought synth-pop to the UK mainstream over from Japan and set a precedent for the use of digital sound that stretches into the modern-day. There is even an entire sub-culture of ‘synthwave’ aesthetic developed in the 80s and inspired by the sound of synth-pop that still pervades in modern society. Its sunset colours and Tron-esque visuals set a perfect foreground to the sound of mellow synth beats, and the culture has barely changed since its first inception.
Although the genre had a rocky start in the 70s, video games took centre stage in the mid-1980s with the invention of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the NES. This single gaming system essentially gave birth to an entire billion-pound industry that has only grown as the years have gone by. When it first came out, the NES released alongside one of the most recognisable characters in videogame history – Mario. Since his creation in the early 1980s, Mario has come to symbolise gaming itself, becoming the face of one of the most successful video game companies in the world. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you play video games or not, everyone knows who Mario is and his games are still being made even up until today. Another, slightly lesser-known title in the west called ‘Dragon Quest’ first premiered in Japan in 1986. This game franchise became so famous and well-loved that the Japanese government had to create an entire law to prevent its workforce from taking the release day off to play the game as soon as it launched. It is now mandated by Japanese law that Dragon Quest games must not be released on a weekday due to the high number of people who would take the day off to play the game, turning the franchise into a cultural phenomenon never before seen.
In short, 80s culture has had an immeasurable effect on modern society, even going as far to change national laws in the case of video games like Dragon Quest. Despite the obsession with progress in the Information Era, many people still pine for the time of cultural innovation that took place in the 80s, and it’s not hard to see why. As shown by, if anything, the numerous remakes and sequels of 80s movies, 80s culture remains just as prevalent and influential today as it was back then.
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