Coined as the “ME” decade, for its generation of wealth and status seekers, the 1980s were a decade of excess. Hair was big, makeup was thickly painted, and colors were bright and bold. It was also a decade of many changes. Technology bounded forward and developments were made in the areas of computers, space exploration, and even video games. Wars were fought, countries were invaded, and old ideologies collapsed. For good or bad, the 80s were one of the most colorful decades of the 20 th century.
It was a decade that belonged to Lucas, Spielberg, and Hughes. Special effects started getting better due to advancements in computer technology; computer animation was beginning, and the summer blockbusters lured in theater-goers with the promise of Star Wars, supernatural relics, and homesick aliens. Actors like Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford rose to the Hollywood A-list status. Jennifer Beals and Jennifer Grey danced their way across the screen, Darryl Hannah grew a mermaid’s tail, Drew Barrymore made her debut in pigtails, and MollyRingwald was pretty in pink.
Top Grossing Movies of the 1980s: See the top 10 grossing movies for each year of the decade.
The Empire Strikes Back : Before the prequels, this was the anticipated sequel. The second installation in the Star Wars saga ensured the story’s continuing appeal.
Raiders of the Lost Ark : Indiana Jones made his debut and took audiences along for his first adventure.
: E.T. tried to phone home and took one of the more memorable bicycle rides in movie history.
: Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Left Behind: The 80s saw an increase in war-based movies, including Rambo.
The 1980s produced music for every taste. The sounds of punk and new wave were an alternative to the heavy metal ballads of the classic 80s Hairband rock music. Michael Jackson became the King of Pop and Madonna influenced music, fashion, and hairstyles. MTV introduced music videos from all over the world and changed the music industry forever.
One Hit Wonders: The bands that had everyone humming their song before they disappeared.
"Valley Girl": Performed by Frank Zappa and his daughter, Moon Unit, this song brought a whole new lexicon into the mainstream and created a new dialect in the American language.
Big R Radio: Tune into the Heavy Metal of the 80s with 80s Metal FM.
Cartoons and Television
The Smurfs battled Care Bears for television domination, and Dallas asked the nation, “Who shot JR?” The television of the 80s was a place where Sarah Jessica Parker was a square peg, Robin Williams was fromOrk, Pierce Brosnan was a detective, and Johnny Depp was just another cool guy with great hair. There was an explosion of new cartoons, nighttime soaps, adventures, and family comedies.
Crazy About TV: Choose an 80s show to see the plot, cast, and trivia.
The Eighties Club: Take a look back with the Television Time Machine.
Encyclopedia of 80s Cartoons: Information about 80s animation.
Shows like Dynasty and Dallas brought women’s shoulder pads into every home. Madonna made it fashionable to wear lingerie on the outside of your clothes. Until the movie, Flashdance, most people didn’t consider leg warmers to be a must have fashion accessory. The 1980s were an age of experimentation when it came to clothing and nothing says “the 80s” like neon fabrics.
Power Dressing in the 80s: The fabulous fashion influences that made the shoulder pad popular.
Fashion of the 1980s: Get the complete look from head to toe.
Not Just Legwarmers: A picture guide to some of the memorable 80s fashions.
The Great 1980s Fashions: Legwarmers, Jellies, and Ray-Bans! Oh, my!
In the 1980s, the market for hair spray was booming. Despite Princess Diana and Madonna as hair inspirations, people got very creative. Bangs reached high attitudes and higher altitudes. Big hair was the norm, and some hair sculptures were impressive architecture. Whether it was crimped, feathered, or faded, the hair of the 80s was distinctive.
Totally 80s Hair: From big bangs to mullets.
1980s Hairstyles: An article reminiscing about the big hair of the ME generation.
Makeup and Fragrance
As with most things in the 80s, the buzzwords were big and bold. Bright colors and heavy eye makeup characterized the 80s look for women. Lipsticks were bright colors or shimmering frosts. Shimmering and sparkling eyelids competed for attention with heavily rouged and defined cheekbones.
It's Baaaaaack: The makeup style of the 1980s is making a re-appearance on runways.
Before Transformers were robots in a movie, they were a toy! Store stampedes and black market sales made the news when Cabbage Patch Dolls rose in popularity. Action figures were a different kind of doll, often based on Saturday morning cartoon shows. The Rubik’s Cube gave bragging rights to anyone who could twist its sides into uniform colors, while Nintendo brought out another hand-held game with the introduction of the Gameboy.
10 Most Parent-Aggravating Toys of the 1980s: A snarky look at the toys parents hated the most.
Classic 80s Arcade Games: Play Pac-Man and get Frogger across the road.
The 1980s saw the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and John Lennon. The attempted assassinations of President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II failed, but caused political upheavals. The excitement of NASA’s new space shuttle program turned to anguish as the world watched the Challenger explode. Natural disasters included earthquakes and the eruption of Mount SaintHelens. Politically, it was a time of major shifts. Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev thawed the relations of the Cold War.
Carolina Herrera Fragrances: Carolina Herrera perfumes, colognes, and fragrances for sale.
Gucci Perfumes, Colognes, and Fragrances: A selection of Gucci perfumes, colognes, and fragrances.
AIDS: The rise of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome began gained the attention of the international community.
Challenger Disaster: The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger was the Shuttle program’s first accident and it grounded the Space Shuttle for two years.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The decade ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and a start to the end of the Cold War.