Monday, November 2, 2009

Observations on the Cheestastic Eighties vs. The Modern Era

SyFy is running the 80's version of V since the updated one is coming to network television very soon. I loved the mini-series, but hey, I was in eighth grade and lacked sophistication. Catching it on the flip side of 2009 is just as good but for entirely different reasons. Reasons I'm certain do not represent the intentions of the original screenwriters. I find that upon reflection, V captured many wonderful eighties trends that were notable in other works.

198?: Women were equal to men. The gender neutral uniforms that fit the women much more snugly than their male counterparts demonstrate this fact.

2009: Women wear chick clothes because they want to look hot and that is just fine.

198?: No child was ever born whose parents understood him. Ever. In the eighties, parents sprung fully formed, with no childhood memories to lend empathy to their childrearing skills. The Breakfast Club said it best: "When you grow up, your heart dies." Even adult children bear the scars of the tumultuous parental/progeny relationship. They seek blue collar jobs that satisfy the soul rather than embrace the corporate ladder that consumes their materialistic progenitors.

2009: In YA fiction and entertainment, parents are well meaning but absent and bumbling. The modern teen may discuss his or her sex life with the extremely tolerant parent but probably prefers not to because of the ick factor. Youth today indulgently care for their parents who are hopeless outside the workplace. This is convenient when a girl with a policeman father has her boyfriend spend the night EVERY NIGHT.

198?: A midget who frolics each time a plane lands on the island is the height of tolerance and understanding. Good white people adopt black kids despite social pressure because, darn it, it's just the right thing to do. White people like "Benson" and "The Jeffersons" so race relations are good. Geeks haven't really entered the scene, just nerds. They are smart computer whiz kids with misunderstood poetic souls. Aside from the news and the AIDs crisis, homosexuality does not exist except as a cruel high school slur. ("I thought only pansies wore neckties." Anyone remember that gem?)

2009: Everybody has a gay best friend. The gay person is important and cooler than everyone else but not the lead. ( Will and Grace exception duly noted.) Lesbians are always bisexual and hot. Black people are also cooler than everyone else, sometimes the lead, but never the geek. Geeks can be cool but they must be quirky, caucasian, and routinely err in their fashion choices.

198?: Kids from the 'hood have good hearts and no opportunities until someone more privileged gives them a chance. Most people stereotype them and treat them badly.

2009: Erm, well, this one hasn't changed much.

198?: The villian is very attractive and beyond redemption unless they are a small town sherrif and then they are fat. They like to use phrases like "insipid fool" unless they are a small town sherrif and then they call everyone "boy."

2009: It isn't really fair to label someone. People have conflicts. Picking sides is arbitrary and judgmental. If the character is a demon, vampire, or werewolf, they are definitely not the bad guy.

Favorite stereotypes? Thoughts?


  1. Awesome post, you nailed it. I only saw the first half of each eposide of V when it aired in the '80's. My dad enforced a strict bedtime, and most if the time I was the only one in my grade who hadn't seen the whole thing the night before.

  2. Too funny! We had strict bedtime, too, and almost zero television but the whole family watched V so the rules were suspended. I believe this contributed heavily to my impression that it was quality entertainment.

  3. Totally missed V. Hm. The 80's? Hah! I grew up with Archie Bunker.

  4. I missed most of Archie Bunker but I must say the random rerun I've caught through the years leads me to believe it was ahead of its time. They wrote characters to type but the characters weren't two dimensional. It still holds up.

  5. I wish someone clued me in during the 80's that nerds were secretly hot. Or maybe that really came later. Damn.

  6. Jason: I know, right? Even better if someone had clued everyone else in that nerds were secretly hot.