On The ’80s

(a comment I added to an ’80s discussion on Tumblr)

I would add that the English ‘80s was probably very different from the Canadian or American or Vietnamese or Ghanian ‘80s.

When people try to sum up a decade, it’s an impossible task so they end up sketching a zeitgeist instead. Often, this sketch is what becomes the known face of an era. It’s not wrong, per se, but it is necessarily a compression. Like a repeatedly compressed jpeg, it may look okay from a distance, give you an overview but get up close and it’s all blocky shite.

You’ll see Duran Duran but Set The Tone will be lost in the blockiness. You may hear about Orgreave but remain ignorant about Wapping. That’s why I loved the TV series Halt And Catch Fire so much: it’s the most realistic ‘80s I’ve seen so far, on TV or film. It has a plethora of details, tiny touches that make the era come alive for me, that make me remember rather than pedantically correct.

There’s a huge wave of nugaze and grunge revivalist bands at the moment. In each band, I see ideas of the ‘80s or early ‘90s re-packaged and re-interpreted. Again, the neo-shoegaze bands seem familiar with You Made Me Realise but not so much with Hip Clown Rag. And Cobain looms so large over the grungers there’s very little room for Jack Pepsi or Flat Out Fucked.

Me, I’m waiting for the Riot Grrrl revival.

That was the last truly punk movement.

Pretty much everything since has been straight white boys shouting about how mean girls are.