I was born in 1982, a year that was especially auspicious for me because of its ripe placement at the beginning of the 80s. In 1982, the Decade of Excess was solidly coming into itself as gaudy, strange, and smart. It had firmly decided that its bridesmaids would sport day glow, it was OK for makeup to wear you, and British pop had earned an extension to its 60s heyday. How could I have heard “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” as a baby and not felt like this life was going to be a good one?
I think growing up, my compatriots and I all felt as though we had been lucky to have been born when we were. If I consider this objectively, it’s a little absurd to read being born at a time when television offerings included “Charles in Charge,” “Gummi Bears,” and “The Snorks” as making you lucky, but we would take what we could get. The soundtrack that was playing in the background as we watched these shows – as well as the permeating smell of our mom’s fresh perm as she spun a salad in the kitchen – was really what made those years glisten with optimism, whether we knew it then or not.
And we were right. All our suspicions that we were totally awesome were confirmed by VH1 in 2002. The glory of our decade couldn’t be contained in a single hour. No! A mini-series was the only platform suitable for such a cavalcade of nostalgic self-love. When “I Love the 80s” premiered in America, I promptly readjusted my perception of VH1 as the music station of my parents (the impression I had gotten from my upbringing) and appreciated it because it appreciated me. We had lived through something special through those years, and thank God VH1 was there to remind me of it. TV to the rescue, once again!
What are some of the things I remember most?
Reading Rainbow. Come to find out that LeVar Burton was known for things other than scouring New York City for kids who would likely later become NPR interns and coordinators of nonprofits. Maybe I’m not thoroughly 80s because I wasn’t aware at the time of his fame as an actor, but I still revere him as the bringer of all good books. And those books were good! Waaay before the Arthur cartoon (which I admit to really liking), Arthur’s plight with his glasses was featured on Reading Rainbow. LeVar was an amazing dancer, too. I dare you not to want to work in a diner after this:
I remember Dolly Parton. The first cassette tape I ever owned was Dolly’s Greatest Hits. This lady was – and still is – amazing. She had a variety show in the 80s that was apparently cancelled pretty quickly because I haven’t found much on it surfing the interwebs, but I certainly remember its existence and crying HARD when I was notified of its cancellation. Dolly is the entertainer of entertainers. I’ll give Michael Jackson his due for being ridiculously incremental to his industry, but Dolly reigns supreme, evermore.
For tonight you can just relish your child’s ability to read and receive junk food in exchange for it.