Last month, Fortnite “Rickrolled” the world.
Tonight, the emote reappeared in the Fortnite Item Shop, which means I get to hear my 8-year-old son singing that melodious pop refrain from the playroom while I write. Now, of course, the tune is stuck in my head. And I’m thinking about the ‘80s: the music, the movies, the media, and the trends.
My tween daughter has a Caboodles kit loaded with scrunchies in her room and wants to wear half shirts ala Flashdance. Yesterday I caught her wearing her socks outside her jeans, punctuated by black and white checkered vans. I think she may be slightly ahead of her time with the sock-thing, because I didn’t realize that trend had caught on (again) yet.
But I did pick up a pair of amazingly soft twill-denim black jeans from Forever 21 that remind me of the ones I wore in high school, when I was finally thin enough to fit into something other than stirrup leggings and oversized Champion sweatshirts.
Rae’s recent article about top geek loves of all time originated (mostly) in the 1980s. You could say that’s because she’s a GenXer, herself, but I bet a lot of our younger readers understood the references – even if they might not rank them in their top five favorites.
What is it about ‘80s culture and nostalgia that prevails?
When I was younger, I don’t remember myself or a lot of my friends listening to the music or watching the movies of our parents’ generation. And ‘50s and ‘60s music was pretty cool! But kids my age didn’t embrace it. It was our parents music.
I’m happy that my kids love so many things – from Mario Brothers on Nintendo to Disney classics — that I enjoyed growing up. It makes connecting across generations so much easier.
When Alex first downloaded the “Rickroll” emote, he didn’t get the joke or the reference. At first, he called it “Riproll,” with no idea what it meant.
I explained it all: Rick Astley, the saccharine sweet ‘80s pop hit, and the resulting meme.
“Why is that bad?” he asked. “I kinda like the song.”
We all did, kid. We all did.
If you’re curious how Rickrolling started, check out this article. I find it ironic that Rick Astley first learned about Rickrolling from his teenage daughter and now I’m here, 12 years later, explaining it to my tween son.
Some things, I guess, are bound to roll around again and again. And ‘80s nostalgia is one thing that just won’t give up.
The movie Ready Player One is a good example of ‘80s nostalgia overload that appealed to nearly all ages. Ditto on “Stranger Things.” And then there’s the ’80s pop culture references shared by Spider-man and Star Lord in Avengers: Infinity War.
Peter Quill: Exactly like Footloose! Is it still the greatest movie in history?Avengers: Infinity War
Peter Parker: It never was.
On the topic of (truly) great ’80s movies, my husband and I took the kids to see the re-release of Back to the Future for its 25th anniversary and they loved it.
The Mandalorian and Disney’s Star Wars attractions at Hollywood Studios, not to mention the latest movies, are introducing entire generations to Star Wars – a series GenX geeks grew up on.
I had the joy of riding the E.T. Ride at Universal Studios with my daughter last summer. She jumped on the ride wearing a NASA t-shirt because we are space geeks. She loved the ride, wanted to see the movie, and especially loved that the ride operator noticed her hoodie and declared, “We have to watch out for her! She’s from NASA!”
A lot of my friends’ kids enjoy heavy metal and hard rock from the ‘80s. And TikTok regularly resurrects ‘80s hits, the latest being “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride,” the hauntingly catchy tune by Matthew Wilder from 1983.
Perhaps no decade has been as impactful on American pop culture as the ‘80s. Or is it just because GenX – the generation as silent as the “Silent Generation,” who just sits around rolling our eyes at the Millennials and the Boomers — is, largely in control of mass media?
The fact is, we are turning entire generations onto our passions. And it’s making it easier to connect with our kids. No, it probably won’t change the world, but it could make living in it more fun for us all.
Great post, and it’s an interesting conundrum.
My kids and I are both lovers of ABBA, Queen, and John Farnham because we heard (hear) it so much as the music my parents (particularly my stepdad) love.
I wonder if perhaps a lot of it has to do with proximity and repetition. Our kids are growing up surrounded by the things we love (which is heavily influenced by our most influential years – the 80s). I was ahead (or behind) of my time because although I wasn’t born until 82, most of my tastes as a teenager were influenced by my older siblings, especially my brother who was born in 76.
Having said that, when it comes to my favourite T.V. shows those are from the 90s because it’s what I watched on real T.V. in my teens: Stargate, Seaquest, X-Files, Friends.
Perhaps that’s what the key element is. Our teenage years have a significant impact on shaping our identity and these are the things we experienced – the music, movies, and other media – that played a part in creating our ID.
Now, as our babies are becoming teens, we’re sharing that with the next generation. They’ll have their own passions based on trends of now, but perhaps because they’re touched by Gen-Xers recreating their teenage passions (Star Wars, Jurassic World, Disney’s LiveAction, Nintendo Nostalgia) for a modern age they’ll share the influences that made us who we are today.
And who knows, maybe that means our Gen Zs will be the closest bonded and connected to their parents than any generation has ever been. We didn’t (don’t) quite “get” our Boomer parents. Their interests and passions were too distinct. But our kids, perhaps, understand us a little bit more. We’re not quite so “uncool”. 😉 And wouldn’t that be awesome.
Makes me curious about the generation to come. (What are they called by the way? We ran out of letters of the alphabet.)
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