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An Over View Of The 80’s Essay, Research Paper

The 1980?s was a decade of discoveries, explorations, tragedies, and new found interests in music and life. Regan and Bush take office consecutively, Apple and IBM introduced new lines of revolutionary computers, and the whole nation wondered Who Shot J.R. Music lovers found a new idol in the newly rediscovered Michael Jackson, and were introduced to the Material Girl, Madonna. The musical world also suffered a terrible tradgity at the death of John Lennon. Popular fashions included leg warmers and tight pants. Tienamen Square showed us the power of the human cause, and AIDS became a major epidemic.

The box offices of the world were graced with many rising stars during the eighties and directors such as Lucas and Spielberg amazed audiences. Harrison Ford presented the last installment of the popular “Indiana Jones” Trilogy, and the world marveled at George Lucas? “The Empire Strikes Back.” Various movies premiered that would change the film industry, including “Rain Man,” staring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” with Drew Barrymore, and “Back to the Future” with Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. There were also those memorable bombs, “Grease 2″ and “Earnest Saves Christmas.” Lets just try to forget those, shall we? How many of us can remember siting back on a summer day, drinking a glass of Kool-Aid and watching reruns of “The A-Team,”"Transformers,”"Go-Bots” or “Miami Vice”? Did you figure out Who Shot J.R. on “Dallas”?

The 80?s were a time period of high political activity, a rebirth of old nations, new discoveries and moments of keeping one?s head held high in moments of tragedy. In 1980, American hostages were being held in the U.S. Embassy in Tahran, Iran. President at the time Jimmy Carter lost popularity with Americans during this affair due to his failed rescue attempts. Also during this time period, we were reintroduced to the planet Saturn through the use of the Voyager space probs. Looking toward the heavens, but dangerously close to home, we found a giant hole in our ozone layer over the Antarctic. Technology took a large step forward, introducing the home computer through IBM and Apple. Technology also took a turn to help humanity when we were introduced to the worlds first artificial heart. The recipient of this heart lived for an astounding 112 days. However, Technology has its downside. From the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion to the crashing of Pan-Am flight 103, the world suffered needless deaths. Fortunately, the governments of the world learned from the terrible mistakes, and have begun to crack down on terrorist activities. The Government stepped up as well during this time to crack down on drug users, only to find increasing usage of certain drugs. The 1980?s were also a time of women taking their rightful places in a society dominated by men. For instance, Geraldine Ferraro being nominated for Vice- Presidency. We also find in other nations, new political leaders and ideas. Perestroika and Glasnost were new programs that promote peace and the freedom of speech in the former Soviet Union. Both programs were set up by Mikhil Gorbachev, than leader of the USSR.

In the 80?s many trends, fads and fashion ideas were started by popular music artists. M.C. Hammer started the trend of parachute pants while Madonna started a craze with red lipstick and platinum hair. Cyndi Lauper was one of the first women to be seen with a shaved head and exotic hair color and Boy George introduced makeup on men and brought up questions of sexuality.

The 80?s brought the beginning of hip hop and rap. Popular groups like Run-DMC and NWA who were one of the most popular rap groups set the trend of wearing heavy gold chains and name brand sneakers.

Other popular trends were stone washed jeans, usually torn with holes, tight leggings with T-shirts and tube socks, sweaters off the shoulder with tank tops underneath, jelly shoes and head bands.

Growing fads included Cabbage Patch dolls, Garbage Pail Kids, Alf dolls, On-Board signs and Charm bracelets. Hobbies that became popular in the 80?s included roller-skating and break dancing. Many more young people started going to clubs while underage drinking became more popular.

The 80?s introduced Heavy Metal, New Age, Rap and artists who would later become world icons. Two of these artists were Michael Jackson and Madonna. Michael Jackson started his solo career in the 80?s with “Beat It” and later released the MTV number one song of the 80?s “Thriller.” Madonna started her career in 1983 when she released her first single, “Borderline.” Other popular Madonna songs included “Like A Virgin,”"Papa Don?t Preach” and “Like a Prayer.” Both of these artists are now considered pop king and queen of the 80?s.

MTV?s Top 15 Songs of the 1980?s

1. Michael Jackson- “Thriller”

2. Guns and Roses- “Welcome to the Jungle”

3. Peter Gabriel- “Sledgehammer”

4. Madonna- “Like a Virgin”

5. The Police- “Every Breathe You Take”

6. Dire Straits- “Money For Nothing”

7. ZZ Top- “Legs”

8. U2- “With or Without You”

9. Van Halen- “Jump”

10. Duran Duran- “Hungry Like the Wolf”

11. Def Leppard- “Pour Some Sugar on Me”

12. Madonna- “Like a Prayer”

13. INXS- “Need You Tonight”

14. Bon Jovi- “Wanted Dead or Alive”

15.Michael Jackson- “Billie Jean”


Our Times. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1995. Pages 576-645.

Chronicle of America. Mount Kisco, NY: Chronicle Publications,

1989. Pages 866-901.

Muluagh, Jane. The History of 20th Century Fashion, London:

Penguin Publishing, 1980-1989. Pages 371-401

Anderson, Christopher P. Michael Jackson/ Unauthorized, New York:

Simon & Schuster, 1991. Whole Book

Anderson, Chistopher P. Madonna/ Unauthorized, New York:

Simon & Schuster, 1991. Whole Book

Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Almanac of American History, New York:

Putnam Grosset, 1993.

Urdang, Lawrence. The Time Tables of American History, New York:

Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Dickson, Paul. Time Lines, New York: Addison-Wesley, 1991.

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