That’s it eighties, we’re done with you, finally
We wanted that era injected straight into our veins – the tiny sunglasses, fluffy mules and all.
Ariana Grande has single-handedly confirmed a major pop culture paradigm shift. In the recently released video for thank u, next Grande perfectly recreated scenes from Clueless, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls and 13 Going On 30.
The nostalgia-fuelled video broke the record for the most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours. We wanted that era and we wanted it injected straight into our veins – the tiny sunglasses, fluffy mules and all.
The pace at which the video exploded says, once and for all, pop culture is done with the
1980s. We’ll never be done with the music (hello, box office smash Bohemian Rhapsody), but our obsession with reliving that point in history can finally be laid to rest.
Ten years ago, clothing stores were loaded with pieces reminiscent of the 1980s. There were block letter slogan tees a la Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, everything was fluoro (gross), and even the humble leg-warmer managed a fleeting moment back in the spotlight.
The 80s stronghold started to loosen about 2014 when jelly sandals and crop tops reemerged. We were shocked at the prospect of baring our midriffs again and vowed it wouldn’t last, but four years later, we’re regularly showing about
2 centimetres of midriff skin between our tiny T-shirts and high-waisted Mom jeans.
The specific period that pop culture is now lusting after is
1995-2004. Alicia Silverstone in Clueless to Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, if you will.
Before Ari dipped into the nostalgia game, Anne-Marie was doing it in her video for 2002. Two months ago, Charli XCX and Troye Sivan went full Steve Jobs in their video for 1999 ,a song that has Charli longing for a long gone era, ‘‘I just wanna go back, back to 1999 / Take a ride to my old neighbourhood / I just wanna go back, sing, ‘Hit me, baby, one more time’.’’
Netflix is building a microempire of rom-coms rooted in the re-hashing of tropes we loved so much in Richard Curtis’ screenplays (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually).
At the Westfield down the road, a Vintage Vintage pop-up store will sell you a bootleg Tommy Hilfiger jumper for $250. At a global level, Hailey Bieber has single-handedly convinced all of us that ugly sneakers, branded double denim and oversized coats are a look.
The harsh reality that a lot of 80s films we placed on a pedestal haven’t aged well makes cutting ties easier again.
Earlier this year The Breakfast Club’s Molly Ringwald wrote about the uncomfortable experience of re-watching the film with her 10-year-old daughter. In particular, the scene where John Bender hides under a table, and it’s implied he touched her inappropriately, without consent.
Nobody in today’s social and political climate wants to see that on telly. Consumers now want to reminisce about fierce Elle Woods rising above her haters in Legally Blonde; Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn opening a non-profit crisis centre for women in First Wives Club; and Julia Roberts as the strong, successful, perfectly flawed actress in Notting Hill.
This isn’t to say the 90s and early-00s get off scot-free – all four of the films Grande threw to are essentially void of diversity – but some progress is better than none. I’ll take the strong female rom-com leads of 1995 to 2004 over the romanticising of the manipulative, jealous, abusive men in St Elmo’s Fire any day.
Pop culture will always have an obsession with history – the two years of Gatsby-themed parties we all endured 2013-2015 speak for themselves.
But for those struggling to process the fact it’s been 14 whole years since Mean Girl Regina snapped at Gretchen, ‘‘Stop trying to make fetch happen!’’, don’t fret, this era has a good few years left in it yet.
A number of scenes from The Breakfast Club don’t sit well with Molly Ringwald, second from right, 30 years on.