The McBournie Minute: History That Happened in the Past (1980-1989)

For an entire generation, the 1980s was a blur. It was a blur because so many were lost in these new-fangled “games of the video,” while still others have tried as best as they can to block out this decade because they had a really, really bad haircut. We’re talking Flock of Seagulls bad.

This generation is called The Lost Generation, because even those that survived the decade had lost something deep down inside of them. That missing piece was something they knew they would never get back. It was much like the generation that fought World War I, only rather than seeing thousands killed by the machine gun, The Lost Generation had to deal with smiley faces.

Check your Swatch, hang up your car phone and hit the jump.

This is where the Cold War jumped the shark. It had clearly used up all the good plot lines by the 1970s, but America and the USSR still ordered up 10 more seasons. They boycotted our Olympics, we boycotted theirs. We rallied in support of peace, they pulled out of Afghanistan and tore down the Berlin Wall. Worst of all, the British allowed themselves to have a female prime minister.

So in the end, we had to spend them into oblivion. That was sort of the overall feel of the 1980s; if you’ve got the money, spend it, and make sure you spend it on something you don’t really need.

Iran and Iraq spent the majority of the decade battling each other with as many chemical weapons as they could. This worked out for us, because the U.S. never had to worry about either country ever again.

Ronald Reagan, an actor best known for playing cowboys in movies shortly after sound was introduced, was elected president–twice. As mentioned above, it was a time for conspicuous consumption, which does not mean to show off the fact that you have tuberculosis, it means to buy flashy stuff.

On top of that, it was a time for tragedies. John Lennon was assassinated, the Challenger broke up during a launch, the Exxon Valdez spilled large amounts of oil off the coast of Alaska, and perhaps the saddest of all, DeLorean Motor Cars went out of business, taking with it the notion that vertically opening doors could be practical.

This was an excellent time to be the organizer of benefit concerts and comedy shows. America was all about helping out victims of one thing or another, even feeding the homeless. Entertainers came together to rally against apartheid policies in South Africa by singing a song so horrible that the entire country decided it was time to free Nelson Mandela or they might continue the aural assault.

Gathering somewhere on the West Coast was something horrible. It was much worse than the keytair. It was the brewing battle between Microsoft and Apple Computers. The two companies did their best to convince the world that they needed a computer in their own homes. Boy were they wrong.

Notable births

  • Yours truly
  • Actor Chad Michael Murray
  • Singer, songwriter, actress Hillary Duff
  • Swimmer Michael Phelps
  • Musician Joe Jonas