The importance of film and music in American culture has often been lamented but never has any conclusions been made as to the validity or impotence of said mediums on the behavior, thought-patterns or social swaying of the general public. There is no doubt that certain movies go down in history as the harbingers of a particular age of reasoning or line of thinking. Though it is often hard to differentiate between what is eternal and what is fleeting when an album drops or when a movie hits the theaters, all is revealed in time. The following is a compilation of films, albums and other pop cultural accelerants that we feel has made the 80s the all-time greatest decade to be a kid in, despite Reaganomics, crack cocaine and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation from Russia.
The year was 1984. Movie tickets were $2.50, a gallon of gas was $1.10 and hip-hop was beginning to solidify its grasp on the hearts and minds of America’s youth. In New York, tensions are high as Bernhard Goetz shoots four young Black men in a New York subway claiming self-defense.
While the world swirled around us, we headed to the movie theaters for laughs and to remove ourselves from the reality of the world. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, The Terminator and a personal favorite, Beat Street. Directed by Stan Lathan and starring Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis and Jon Chardiet with music composed by Harry Belafonte, Beat Street was one of the first films dedicated to telling a genuinely hip-hop story rather than simply using it as a prop. It, along with Wildstyle and Breakin’, helped introduce the world to this burgeoning new culture that those in inner-city environments had already been enjoying for over a decade.
But 1984 wasn’t just about movies. Oh heaven’s no! It was the year that the future of music was being formulated as radio stations began tweaking their music formats to become more specialized. Yet it still wasn’t uncommon for a set to start off with Bon Jovi, segue to Michael Jackson and Madonna and finish up with Lionel Ritchie. Here are some of our favorites from 1984.
Sade "Diamond Life"
"Thriller" Michael Jackson
"Born in the U.S.A." Bruce Springsteen
"Like a Virgin" Madonna
As measurements of time go, few people give the proper respect to the half-decade earmark. A span of five years seems like a long time when one is transcending this space in slow-motion, but in retrospect it’s not that long at all. From 1984 to 1989 pop culture was filled with more pop icons of African descent than had been the case earlier in the decade. In addition, Black stars were popping up all over the place thanks to the explosion in the hip-hop music. Simultaneously, Bill Cosby was ruling the television airwaves with "The Cosby Show" and Director Spike Lee was on the verge of making a name for himself in Hollywood with his now classic film Do the Right Thing. The summer blockbuster was becoming the goal of every major film studio with the release of Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Back to the Future II. Check out some clips and reels from some of the hottest films and music of the day.
Do the Right Thing
The Cosby Show
Lethal Weapon 2
Lean On Me