Video may have killed the radio star, but it didn’t throw its final punch until a new star, perhaps a brighter star, was ready for its close-up.
The year was 1981. Reagan was president, and the nation was happy to be singing and working “9 to 5.” CBS found an audience with shows such as “Dallas,” “The Dukes of Hazard” and “M*A*S*H,” while Blondie, Kim Carnes, and Hall and Oates topped the airwaves.
“Ordinary People” won the Academy Award for best picture. AIDS was first identified. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
And then there was cable. There was MTV.
Originally intended to simply promote music albums, MTV fast became synonymous with attitude, excess and parties. But it also changed the way we consume media and music.
While veejays Adam Curry and Martha Quinn pitched soon-to-be classic videos such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock-n-Roll” and David Lee Roth’s “(I Wish They All Could Be) California Girls,” groups such as De La Soul and Run DMC introduced the world to rap music.
In 1982, Michael Jackson released the groundbreaking “Thriller.” The following year, CDs hit the market. Slowly but surely, the world began to change, musically, politically and socially. When the music community responded with hits such as “We are the World,” MTV was there.
In 1985, Madonna launched her Virgin Tour, and Live Aid helped raise money for victims of the famine in Ethiopia. The next year, Fox Network debuted, Nintendo landed in the U.S.A. and Oprah went solo.
“Cheers.” “The Cosby Show.” “Family Ties.” “The Golden Girls.” “Night Court.”
By 1988, 98 percent of U.S. households owned at least one television, and CDs outsold vinyl. In 1989, the World Wide Web was born.
In many ways, the ’80s were a tumultuous time (perhaps this explains parachute pants?). But they were also a simpler time, a time before the Internet and reality TV (although they, too, had Ozzy Osbourne), a time in which musicians won over listeners with original songwriting and TV networks commanded audiences with original programming.
The ’80s, in many ways, are the new ’70s: A decade everyone hoped would never repeat itself, while they secretly hoped it would do just that.
Now is that time.
Although MTV’s infamous Spring Break programming debuted the mid-1990s, bringing with it the hedonistic overtones of the coming season, no time is better to celebrate hedonistic pleasures of another sort than now.
Drop your suitcase and head to the nearest store to purchase the following:
* Kool Aid
* Golden Grahams
* Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft or Velveeta)
* Pop Tarts
Go to the video store and rent the following:
* “The Breakfast Club” or any other John Hughes film
* “Chariots of Fire”
* “Hannah and Her Sisters”
* “Weird Science”
Now, settle yourself in front of a TV (preferably with cable and a remote control) for a week of excess. Limit yourself to the shows listed above (many of which are syndicated on cable), and avoid all news and reality-based programming.
Relax. Go to it.