Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

No Whammies! Just Some Misplaced 80’s Nostalgia

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Form...blazing sword!

Dust off your 1980’s catchphrases and your leg warmers, everyone! It’s time for another episode of How to Horrify Your Children with Your Hopelessly Backwards Frame of Reference!

First, pull out your Voltron action figures – the lions, not the silly vehicles – and demonstrate the spring-loaded missiles, explaining the differences among the green, yellow, blue, red and black lions. You must, repeat must chant the following:

Ready to form Voltron!
Activate interlocks! Dynatherms connected! Infracells up! Megathrusters are GO!
All form Voltron!
Form feet and legs! Form arms and body! And I’ll form…the head!
Let’s go, Voltron Force!

If you must, find Voltron clips on YouTube and subject your helpless children to animation so primitive it makes the Power Rangers special effects seem stunning. You may relent only once the little darlings tremble in fright.

"By the power of...of...YOWZA."

Not everyone had the benefit of seeing Voltron after school, for they may have preferred He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a series with the unabashedly transparent goal of showing as many animated heroines in scanty garb as possible. Teela had that whole authority and domination thong, excuse me, thing (genuine typo, but fortuitous enough to keep), going on with “helpless” Prince Adam. And the Sorceress (pant, pant) – what a bird she was! Aloof and mysterious, it’s no wonder Our Hero kept coming back to her over-the-top haunted house of a castle. It’s time to introduce your children to the confusing pleasures of preadolescence as we experienced them. Repeat after me:

By the power of Grayskull!
I…have…the POWERRRRRRRRRRR!

If your favorite network showed GI Joe instead, you can awe your offspring with one of the most violent animated series ever created, yet in which no one ever got killed in action. COBRA: a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world! Unless it means actually killing somebody. Somehow everyone can see the rockets coming and has time to eject safely. The closest any character comes to death is just before the credits, when two kids are about to engage in spectacularly stupid behavior, such as riding their bicycles along the third rail without a helmet while drinking and listening to music on headphones, and a member of the GI Joe force shows up in the nick of time to teach them a valuable safety lesson. Now you know, you can tell your kids, and knowing is half the battle.

Let us not think that hoary animated series are the only way to give your children the creeps. Music from the 80’s  carries a sinister magic all its own. I was reminded of this quite disturbingly on Monday, when a bunch of American expats got together here for a July 4th celebration, complete with hot dogs, guest musicians and flea market. One performer gave us his solo rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer; I commented to a friend that it takes a lot to make a listener long for the original Bon Jovi. And that celebrating America by singing about the economic and romantic doldrums of blue-collar workers makes about as much sense as marking Ramadan with a Crusade.

But one need not single out Bon Jovi as the paragon of 80’s crap-rock. There’s Def Leppard, every single one of whose songs is the same, even if a one-armed drummer is totally rad. If you really want to psychologically damage your children, look no further than Barbie and the Rockers. Or J.E.M. (truly outrageous). Or Get in Shape, Girl! Nothing says “budding anorexic” like a tweenie obsession with fitness.

However, if you really want to evoke the 80’s mood, you need the locution, the gag-me-with-a-spoon, jeans-with-high-heels vibe that only such phrases as “Who d’ya think’s in the burgers?” “d-I HEARD that” can conjure up. Believe it…or not.

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Written by Thag

July 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

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