80’S NOSTALGIA

Virginia Heffernan reflects on a new VH1 series that tries to capitalize on this phenomenon:

Certain nostalgic observations about pop culture over the past 15 years have themselves become pop artifacts. Consider “David Hasselhoff was huge in Germany,” “MacGyver could kill you with a paper clip,” and “Tearing down the wall was a huge, huge event.” If you remember having any of these insights, or even if all you remember is Hasselhoff, MacGyver, and the Berlin Wall, you might find pleasure re-remembering them and other ’80s stuff with a cast of lively television personalities on VH1’s I Love the 80s.

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Inspired by a British program, the series has no host and little voice-over; instead, it uses period images and merchandise, along with bites from actors and comics, to rekindle varieties of lost fandom. This will not please anyone who’s fainthearted about pop culture—people who read or played outside as children. Rather, it’s for an audience that, for better or worse, understands Mark McGrath when he says, “There were 55 Spicolis in my high school.” An audience, moreover, who knows who Mark McGrath is.

Oddly, while I instantly get the Spicoli reference, I had no idea who Mark McGrath was. After Googling him, I still don’t.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. joy says:

    All that you need to worry about concerning Mark McGrath is that he’s a)younger than you and b)plenty hot. 😛

  2. Kathy K says:

    Definitely a pretty boy. But I don’t know who he is either (after Googling).

  3. harm d. says:

    Mark McGrath is frontman for Sugar Ray, a formerly hard metal Orange County band that hit the big time with a catchy, rock/hip-hop fusion single “Fly” & then moved on to a more alternative, melodic sound with one of ’99’s hit albums, “14.59.” In case you were wondering, yes, the title is a self-conscious reference to their meteoric rise to MTV fame.

    Their latest album, self-titled, failed to make much of a splash, but they’re still popular w/ the youngsters who go for the SoCal type of sound.

  4. Leo says:

    One hour per year. And they keep playing them, over and over. Geez. They could have done 5 shows per year for about the same price, heh.

    I know who Sugar Ray is, I guess I’m not as old as I thought.

  5. Jimbo says:

    OK, so he is the front man for Sugar Ray.

    What the HELL does that have to do with the 80’s?

    In the 80’s, his band would have had eggs thrown at them.