With our second consecutive month of content coming to a close this weekend, we here at Pop Modern decided to forgo our usual, topical approach to this column in favor of something a bit more sentimental. Sure, the three of us were all born in the early 90’s, but it seems like nowadays all of pop culture has an ingrained affection for the 80’s, so we’ve seen enough movies and listened to enough music to feel like we were really there, rocking some leg warmers and catching reruns of Miami Vice. So if you have nothing better to do this weekend, why don’t we all live out a fictional version of things that happened to people we don’t know thirty years ago? It just seems like a wholesome way to pass the time.
Die Hard: Though John McTiernan may be in the news these days for some unsavory reasons, his 1988 film Die Hard will always be what I associate his name with. It tells the story of John McClane, divorced cop played by Bruce Willis, and his mission to subdue the terrorists holding the employees of Nakatomi Plaza, his ex-wife’s workplace, hostage. Although it’s been praised almost universally since it was released for being a brilliant action film and it’s actually taught in film classes as the quintessential example of three act structure, none of that is why I love it. What most people don’t seem to address is that Die Hard is an incredibly simple, base premise. The idea that an ex-cop can single-handedly take out a crew of terrorists (barefoot, I might add!) is actually incredibly dumb. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film at all. More that it goes against everything that the average film critic tends to love; the characters are fairly one-dimensional, it can be summarized in a few sentences, and it doesn’t have the trademark weirdness or deep message of independent film. It’s a well-shot, well-written, patriotic action film that isn’t afraid to pander to the lowest common denominator. And it does so with so little irony and so much craft that it has become a staple part of the Christmas movie marathon that so many Americans like to indulge in every year. In a world of ironic action films and overly dramatic thrillers, it’s nice to know that you can rely on a macho 80’s action hero to save the day time and time again.
London Calling: Here at Pop Modern, we occasionally suffer inaccuracy for the sake of a good article. While The Clash album London Calling came out in the UK in 1979, the album didn’t come out until 1980 in America, so I feel confident in my decision to put the album in with the 80’s. Considered one of the best punk bands of their time, The Clash melded styles of rock, punk feeling, and lyricism to create an incredible, diverse album. With hit songs ranging from the manic “London Calling,” to the aimlessness of “Lost in the Supermarket,” and the rebellious, anti-authority “Guns of Brixton,” the songs are incredibly diverse, yet remain skilled within their diversity. The themes that The Clash tackle are controversial, from police brutality and the meaningless nature of life to consumerism, yet the issues are given a more adult look than their contemporary bands. The album is one of my favorites of all time for the technical skills of the band members combined with the frenetic energy they give through emotional performances.”London Calling”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vHvzybkqfo
“Guns of Brixton”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqcizZebcaU
“Lost in the Supermarket”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsrEAWcAvRg
Heathers: When most people think of 80’s films, they think of classic John Hughes fare: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off come to mind. But I’m not here to talk about those movies. Instead, I’d like to champion Heathers, a movie that I can’t exactly say I liked, but a movie that I find interesting and worth a watch, nonetheless. It’s a Winona Ryder vehicle that seems to run a familiar plot. The local high school is under the thumb of a popular clique (a group of three girls, all named “Heather”) and our female protagonist (Ryder) plays along, until a lovable rogue (played by Christian Slater) shows up to disrupt everything. It seems like typical 80’s stuff until an incredibly dark turn within the first twenty minutes. From then on, the movie is both a parody and a dark manifestation of the Hughes-style school of filmmaking that spawned it. Personally, I was a bit put off by this movie when I first watched it, but then again I was expecting something much more innocuous. I would recommend watching this film, if only to see how it deconstructs the world of 80’s high school movies.
Here’s a trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTmpKgocyYg
And here’s a clip to showcase the movie’s specific tone (I’d just like to note that on both of these videos, the top comment is about Mean Girls, and the second is about shoulder pads): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ-3rikUQ34
So there you have it, the scant nuggets we’ve sifted from the roaring resurgence of 80’s culture over the past decade or so. It would seem that the three of us have been drawn to the darker, grittier aspects of the decade, which aren’t always brought up or thought about in discussions of 80’s popular culture. It’s a much more complex and seedy decade than people tend to think, tinged by shady money dealings and Cold War paranoia. Of course, sometimes it’s just fun to forget about that kind of stuff and bop your head to some overly synthesized 80’s tunes. That’s why this week’s Round-Up is a smattering of some of our favorite songs from the decade. Strap on your shoulder pads and enjoy!
“Come On Eileen”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVxcwe7EcaY
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdqoNKCCt7A
“Down Under”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfR9iY5y94s
“Easy Lover”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkRKT6T0QLg
“I Love Rock N Roll”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3T_xeoGES8
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbNlMtqrYS0
“Tainted Love”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEh5pWjcWCg