Friday, August 5, 2016

The Greaties: The Resurgence of the Great Eighties

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
- Ferris Bueller

The 80s. Dude. What a time it was. What a decade. The decade that defined the Geek - That elusive creature of social ineptitude, the maestro of make-believe, the ninja of nerd-dom.

DO you remember it? The gaming arcades, awesome synth music that seemed to weave its witchery into the mundane week, secret board-gaming clubs, Saturday morning cartoons, Atari, VHS and Beta-max videos, Action figures and collectibles from cereal boxes, Comic books and corner stores...

No? Give me a break! You gotta remember the movies right? Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Blade Runner, Terminator, Rambo, Top Gun, The Karate Kid, Tron, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Back to the Future, Robocop, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Aliens?
Of course you gotta remember the directors as well: Spielberg, Lucas, Zemeckis, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, John Hughes, Stanley Kubrik, George Romero, Steven King?
Yeah sure they're popular now but back then they weren't just popular...they were fucking legends.

And the music, come on...yeah, you remember the beats back on the streets. Toto, David Bowie, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Eurythmics, Michael Jackson, Chicago...Yeah, them you know about! And the dance movies man, you gotta mention the dance movies: Flashdance, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Fame, Breakdance...what a feeling man. Irene Cara had us grooving like there was no tomorrow.

And giant packets of puffed up chips, Mountain Dew, geeking out at school and avoiding getting beat up on the playground, rushing off home to catch that all important TV hour.
And boy oh boy, what a TV hour that was - Gummy Bears, He-Man, Thundercats, Robotech, Bravestar, Voltron, Bionic Six, Ninja Turtles...

And secret super elite weekend friend clubs where tomfoolery and shenanigans remained the order of the day. Of course you had to be a gang of four. Four friends, inseparable - One for all, all for one. Brothers in arms. Never say die. You would get together every Saturday for video-gaming, board-gaming and arcade gaming at your regular haunt.
Oh, and debating comic book lore at the local store. Because let's face it we spent countless hours debating what the outcome of a Superman VS Batman or Hulk VS Wolverine match would be. Fuck the blockbuster movie studios of today. We were doing this shit way before them.

The 80s. Dude. What a decade.

So in case you're wondering why I'm on waxing all lyrical it's because all of a sudden, something really strange, really awesome has happened. There's been an awakening, a resurgence, a rebirth. The Great 80s, the Gr8ties has just happened upon us again.
Surely I'm not serious?

I am serious. And don't call me Shirley. We're on an 80s roller-coaster man. And if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles an hour, you're going to see some serious shit.

In TV/ Movies:

If you've been living in a cave recently and you've not seen Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers (masterpiece) mini-series currently airing on Netflix then please do yourself a favor and check it out now. Because it all levels of awesomeness.
Not only does it pay homage to all the cool movies, series and culture from the 80s, it also successfully manages to capture the 'feel' of that decade. From the Dungeons & Dragons  board-gaming buddies, the disappearance of a young boy, the eerie woods and the mysterious facility on the edge of town, a bad-ass Sheriff, a girl with Telekinetic powers, Winona Ryder (!), a love triangle that actually works and more...much, much more.

With obvious influences from Steven Spielberg, Steven King, John Carpenter and more, the 8 part spooky drama unravels like a box of popping candy and M&Ms - in a glorious amalgamation of horror, sci-fi and cult fantasy elements. Bring on the Demigorgon!

And if thats not enough to quell your 80s-inner child then also check out the Voltron reboot (also on Netflix), Transformers: The Combiner Wars, Super 8 (JJ Abrams doing his Spielbergian shuffle), Guardians of the Galaxy (Starlord, off)

In Literature:

Ready Player One - Seriously, every quintessentially child of the 80s needs to read this book. I was completely convinced that this book was written for me. With elements of cyberpunk, more 80s movie, TV and culture references than anything else on this planet, video arcades & gaming, Dungeons & Dragons are all amazingly blended into a mystery treasure hunt, this is one book that will leave you wanting more.

In Comics:

Both DC and Marvel studios have been doing some rebooting work. Which means, for the DC fans: If you're a Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, Watchmen-loving geek who just wants to latch onto one or two titles and not a convoluted series of backtracking stories, then NOW is the best time to get into comic books.
For Marvel fans - The studios have been bringing out some really great movies lately but the comic books have suffered from 'event-driven' elements. However, despair not. My suggestion is to go for a few graphic novels that pique your interest and take it from there!

Video Gaming:
Ok, so the arcade gaming of the 80s is a dead fish. But at least you don't have to keep dropping quarters (or 20cents here in SA), to put might to your mettle. You have console gaming, PC gaming so take your damn pick out of what you like. My favorite list includes: Mass Effect, Fallout, Kingdoms of Amalur, The Batman Arkham Series, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Diablo (1-3), Borderlands etc etc.

There's never been a better time to be a board-gamer. With the recent surge and interest in board-games, you can get your dice rolling and miniatures bawling with 80s classics such as Dungeons & Dragons (well, duh), Ghostbusters, Aliens (Legendary Encounters) and soon to come Goonies: The Card Game as well as some new and really awesome newer and older titles - Netrunner & Lord of the Rings LCGs, Dicemasters, X-Wing etc.
For places to meetup with fellow Gamers, get information on events, in-store specials or to just get you gaming geek on, check out these fine stores:
Quantum Gaming - 23 Rotherfield Road, Plumstead,Cape Town
Skycastle Gaming - Unit 4, CNR Shiraz & Muscat Street, Saxenburg Park 1, Blackheath
Wizards Warehouse - Shop 22, Stadium on Main, Main Road, Claremont


Okay so if there's one area that's sorely lacking an 80s revival its the music of this era. It really feels as if pop radio has de-evolved into total a total shitpile. We've come a long way from really good music to singing about twerking, anacondas and asses. Seriously, what the fuck. Call me old fashioned but the songs of yesteryear had groovy soul, the lyrics had the glory of love and the beats had us drumming our fingers and tapping our feet. There was a time when we built this city on rock and roll man. From the well known ballads (Bon Jovi) to funky pop (Madonna) right down to the cheesiest of songs, it all had a purpose, a meaning. Yeah, Rick Astley, even you. Never gonna give up on you. These days, when I'm not listening to old beats, I satisfy my craving with retro 80s synthwave: Pertubator, Kavinsky, Lazerhawk, Powerglove and more.

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