Friday, March 13, 2009

A VH1 Counterpoint

There are two mysteries of humanity that I'll probably never understand.

The first one is why Kenny Rogers Roasters, though a commercial failure in the United States, is a huge success in the Philippines Apparently southern U.S. cuisine resonates strongly to the "Asian country with a strong Hispanic influence" palate.

The second mystery is why people retain any affection for the 1980's*.

Imagine for a moment that a small child brought you a picture he drew, but instead of the usual smiling stick figures, sunshine, and grass, it was a wash of bright neons and pastels-greens, pinks, and purples all jammed together.

You would take that kid to a psychologist, wouldn't you?

And you'd be right to do so. This is the aesthetic of a crazy person.

Combine those hideous colors with the 80's affinity for the screeching of a keyboard synthesizer and you've got quite a psychosis going.

It's no wonder, then, that there were so many good movies about time travel during the 80's. "The Terminator," "Back to the Future," "Flight of the Navigator," and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (yes, I consider that a good movie, even now) all represent a generation of creative minds who were thinking very hard about finding a way to get out of their decade.

How we finally shook free of the 80's is a matter for debate, but there seems to be a general consensus that the 80's lasted until about 1992. In that year, the rise of a grungier, minimalist idea finally toppled the shoulder-padded, tube-topped neon wall that had blotted out the Earth's sun for so long.

Some say that Nirvana's "Nevermind" signaled the cultural shift when it toppled Michael Jackson's "Dangerous," but personally I think it was the "Wayne's World" movie.  Here we have a film about two metal heads (grungy)  making a show in their basement (minimalist) who get swindled by a slick-haired producer (Rob Lowe portraying a typical clean cut  materialist).  It was a huge hit, transformed the pop-culture lexicon of the time, and maybe saved us from the 80's.

*Which is really best viewed as a recovery period from the 70's.

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