My day job is in digital marketing and I also happen to run a blog. So, the irony is not lost on me when I say that the Internet kinda ruined it and I often aspire to a simpler way of life. Specifically, one pre-www, way back when the Kardashians didn’t break the Internet; success wasn’t measured in “Likes”; and people would make mix tapes for each other, instead of sharing SoundCloud links. Also, musicians were actual artists, rather than celebrities having Twitter feuds and getting papped doing their grocery shopping. Gosh yeah, I do miss those days – even though, being born in 1989, I barely lived them.
You know Owen Wilson’s character in Midnight in Paris, who despises modern-day life, harps on about yesterday’s glories, and romanticises life through the lens of nostalgia? That would be me. I also share his fascination with Paris in the 20s and phantasise of having a drink with Salvador Dalí. But that’s another story.
My other enduring fascination remains the 80s. What is it about those years, you ask? Or I would say, more like: what’s not to love? Everything was unashamedly bold (perm and shoulder pads included). Fashion and artistic movements were outrageously experimental and out there, culminating in one of the most creatively prolific decades of our times. Unlike the restrained “less is more” minimalist appeal of 90s, the 80s was all about “more is more”. Let’s take music. From New Wave to Hair Metal; Cindy Lauper to The Clash, individualism was well and truly celebrated. Tacky and cheesy was the status quo – leading to this actually happening. Basically, everything was acceptable in the Eighties and rules were made to be broken. How refreshing is that?
It seems that my contemporaries are similarly feeling the pangs of retro-musical-nostalgia and unearthing Vinyl records en masse to cope with it. They’re also buying into hot pink inflatable flamingos – what for, I’m not sure… It’s not like people have pools anymore? Of course, everyone in the Eighties everyone had pools – and tree houses, duh. Ok, so by “everyone”, I probably mean white middle class American teenagers living in suburban cul-de-sacs, like Fast Time at Ridgemont High. But still. Life was good!
There’s another thing that the 80s do so well, and that’s movies. I’m talking about those teen, coming-of-age films which are beautifully poignant and nuanced. Can’t say the same about my generation’s American Pie I’m afraid! Anyway, I can’t ever get enough of them. Even though my school days are long behind me, I still daydream from time to time of being transported back into an 80s time warp.
In this soft-focus Eighties vision of Americana, I would be a teenager with big permed hair. I’d parade down long corridors with lockers (not a thing in Italy and I’ve always wanted one SO badly) in the hope that the school heart throb and my ultimate crush who had friend zoned me into oblivion would notice that I have boobs, and finally ask me to prom (I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to prom. Again, not a custom in Italy). In the aim of succeeding, I’d try out for the cheerleading squad, but fail miserably because let’s face it, I was not one of the popular girls. When I came home (it has a pool and a dog, of course) crying, my Dad would comfort me and deliver a perfectly scripted: “Don’t let anyone make you fail inferior without your consent” line. As you can imagine, I was more the oddball than the cheerleader – say, Allison over Claire from The Breakfast Club. BUT after an awesome pre-prom makeover montage, I would transform from Emo to pretty girl and stare at myself in the mirror in amazement. Predictably, I make a grand entrance at the prom where my crush is blown away by the new “me” and realises that I’m the real deal. We would dance and kiss to The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”. The End. Sound familiar? Ha! Cliche’ doesn’t even come close. And yet, such is the power of cinema, my friends.
If you get where I’m coming from, you’ll know that these kind of irrational phantasies never really leave – but they lie dormant until a powerful trigger comes your way and then BOOM – it’s like Snapchat never existed. Also, they’re harmless and bloody good fun to indulge in! Luckily for this purpose, the 80s Gods have been good to us this summer. Here’s how you can get your fix.
Firstly, if you’re craving a bit of Eighties’ goodness on TV, look no further than Stranger Things. The new Neflix TV series set in suburban America was a revelation and has already become a cult hit. It had me HOOKED and binge watching (ok, so in this case, thank Internet!) from the first episode. Wether you’re a fan of the sci fi or Eighties genre or not, the brilliant acting, writing and cinematography won’t disappoint you. Without giving too much away, I would like to point out a few good reasons for watching, namely: a) Winona Ryder makes a comeback here and she’s phenomenal in her role, b) It’s a gripping formula of paranormal mystery and science fiction – with coming-of-age, friendship and romance elements thrown in for good measure, c) It’s showing something new, in a tried and tested format: a brilliant homage to the Eighties with copious references to Spielberg, Stephen King and other cinematic bonanza, all rolled into one; d) There are walkie talkies involved. Over and out.
Best for: Non squeamish people.
For an enjoyable teen romp, give Everybody Wants Some a go. It’s set during Freshers’ Week/Month in a Texas university, where a bunch of baseball jocks keep themselves suitably entertained with a whole lotta partying and scoring chicks before the start of term. In true Linklater style, expect a banging rock’n’roll soundtrack, lots of marijuana; some gratuitous nudity and sideburns. The script is the driving force, which switches between boyish banter, horny jock talk and existentialist conversations – and although it feels a bit forced at times, it’s not as disingenuous as the casting, with 20 year olds looking like they’re in their 30s, at times distractingly so. Also, the film has been described as the spiritual sequel to his 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused. Having watched both, I can attest that there are many similarities – but I find the former a lazy reprise of D&C, which was way funnier and of course, had a hilarious Matthew McConaughey. I also felt that the point of view and voice of women was profoundly lacking and the characters underdeveloped on a whole, because hey, “boys will be boys”. What Linklater succeeded in is in bringing to life most guys’ phantasies of what university should be like and creating a nostalgic mood, taking the viewers back to that time in their life when they thought everything was possible.
Best for: Taking a short break from adult life and reminding yourself that life is short. Also, if you’re partial to oldies’ rock music.
Let’s close this 80s nostalgic extravaganza on a style note. What better way to get into character than in the right outfit? Now, everybody knows that Eighties’ was THE decade of fashion faux pas. For that reason, I find vintage shopping in London is exasperating as you’re way more likely to find fugly Eighties ski wear, tropical shirts and hideous spanx outfits at extortionate prices, rather than Kate Moss hand-me-downs. But I like to be proven wrong sometimes, like when I found this sporty jacket at a steal for £8 in a sample sale in Dalston which had me feeling Pretty in Purple. I instantly fell in love with it and have gone as boldly as wearing it with high waisted jeans – see photo below. It’s slinky, comfortable and slouchy with a garish floral-cum-wallpaper motif, so it has become a festival favourite. My philosophy on vintage is that if I can find better things in my Mum’s closet for no cost, I steer clear of so called “vintage shops” – preferring car boots sales or sample sales. If you’re with me on that, I suggest you keep an eye out on upcoming sample sales in your area.
Conclusion: I may not be living in the Eighties’ but hey, there are plenty of fixes. Plus, girls just want to have fun – and who are you stop me? 😉