4 Things People Who Grew Up in the '80s Need to Stop Bitching About
I was born in 1981, which gives me a lot to complain about. For instance, I got to spend my early adulthood watching Houston's economy tank in the wake of the Enron failure, 9/11, two wars and now the Great Recession. That was not how John Hughes told me I would be spending my twenties, and since passing 30 awhile back, I've become a little bitter about that.
But to my fellow children of the 1980s? You brave souls between 25 and 35 who were my posse during the era of friendship bracelets, MTV, hairspray and Saturday Morning cartoons? I've got to tell you that you have become really freakin' annoying since you found jobs that allow you to complain on the Internet all the ding-along day.
We've got real things to worry about, but all I see in my newsfeed and in the comment section of entertainment stories I peruse for work is a dedication to word-punching every single thing about modern pop culture. I've had enough. It's time for us all to grow up and stop complaining about...
"Raping My Childhood"
Thank South Park for this, but don't blame them too hard. They're not the ones that ran the joke into the ground and tried to make something more important out of it than it deserved.
Every time a movie spends millions of dollars trying to cash in on things that were popular in the '80s, like Transformers and G.I. Joe, there's a mad rush to condemn it before it even gets started. God forbid someone makes any significant changes, such as when Michael Bay decided that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would actually be Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles. "He's raping my childhood!" will be the inevitable response.
Look, remakes are a fact of art and life. Beowulf is at least as old as the 8th century, and 1,300 years later when they wanted to make yet another movie in 2007, Angelina Jolie wanted in. Granted, it should bother us that we're delving into what were essentially toy commercials to generate modern film, but that hardly constitutes "raping your childhood."
All that such a project can really do is make you appreciate your original love for something more against what you consider an inferior adaptation. I am Legend being a parade of leaky colostomy bags didn't make Last Man on Earth any less of an awesome movie, or Richard Matheson's novel any less profound.
Your childhood cannot be raped, and if you're still trying to live out your two-decade-old adolescent fantasy life in modern movies, then you need some serious help. Besides...
Your Stuff Is Still There
One of the things that seem to drive people the absolute batshittedest about new, changed versions of their favorite childhood franchises is that the new version somehow cancels out the old version. You know, how like Peter Jackson and Dino De Laurentiis's reimaginings of King Kong have totally made people forget about the 1933 original entirely? Relax.
You have to understand that people who grew up in the '80s are now adults coming into real earning power, but still a long way away from having to worry about being old and broke. They've got good jobs, weekends and a crushing realization of their own death in the next half of their life. The makers of entertainment magic know this, and that's why they're spending all their dough saying, "Hey! Remember when you were just a happy little kid watching Snake Eyes take down Cobra Commander? Wouldn't you like to feel that way again for only $10 a pop, plus refreshments?"
They also know that a fair amount of people would just rather take a trip down memory lane with the original stuff, and hey, they'll happily sell you that as well. Fraggle Rock, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Dungeons and Dragons, The Super Mario Super Show, hell, even Galaxy High is available on DVD at Amazon, if not free on YouTube.
People my age have the largest entertainment system in the world catering to our every whim, including restoring and making readily available whatever stupid cartoon we might be yearning for. And mark my words, they were stupid.
It Wasn't That Great to Begin With
The sanctity with which '80s pop culture is treated makes less sense than handing Donald Trump a microphone. That's a big part of the "raping my childhood" thing, the degree to which we have enshrined some truly mundane artistic creations.
Let's go back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again. I was a full-on freak for the turtles when I was a kid (Raphael was my favorite, which TMNT fans could probably have guessed at this point). Do you know why I liked them so much? Because they were freakin' ninja turtles that fought robots and weird mutants plus hung around with a smoking hot redhead in a skintight suit!
Any nine-year-old would have been insane for something like that, same with Transformers and everything else that is getting multimillion-dollar investments to relaunch. Impressing a nine-year-old isn't hard, and it's certainly not indicative of having written the animated version of Handel's Messiah.
Riddle me this, have you ever gone back and actually watched an old episode of He-Man? My brother got it for me for Christmas a year ago, and not only does the dialogue sound like it was written by a person who was beaten for speaking out loud, it reuses animations more than Andrew Lloyd Webber reuses Pink Floyd melodies. This was not all that great, and the idea that Michael Bay could somehow ruin it just proves that a lot of people just plain forgot to grow up.
Video Games Aren't "Too Easy" Now
If Mitt Romney had threatened this bird instead of Big Bird, no 30-year-old male in America would be voting for Obama.
Moving away from cartoons and the like, the '80s saw the birth of the NES, one of the greatest things mankind has ever invented. People are still playing games developed for the 8-bit box of joy and wonder to this very day.
Those games were also incredibly hard. Ninja Gaiden, Contra, the insanity that was Abadox. They were all designed at a time when game makers still thought in arcade terms, really, and arcade games make their money by getting you to lose by any means necessary. Beating a game took practice, skill and a little luck on top of that.
These days, games have autosaves, teach you to play with in-game tutorials, usually have built-in map features and will out and out tell you what to do next. The thing is, though, the games aren't easy, they're graded. Nearly every game you can buy now comes with a variety of modes ranging from super easy to nearly impossible. Those claiming that games offer no challenges anymore haven't tried Titan Mode on God of War III.
You also get the option of picking how you'll play the game most times. Even something as simple as a modern Super Mario Bros offers considerable challenges to someone wanting to collect every little achievement trophy these days. If that gets tedious or too difficult, no problem, just move on. In the old days, you didn't have the option of not going through a particularly diabolic level. One path was all you got, and you'd better not mess up. If all else fails, modern games offer plenty of flexibility to someone looking for a challenge, like that guy that beat Skyrim without weapons.
So yes, games were harder for the same reason crossing the ocean was harder in a wooden galleon than in a cruise ship. Technology couldn't make a good enough game that would appeal across various skill levels. This was particularly cruel when you consider how much games cost then.
I distinctly remember getting TMNT II: The Arcade Game for my birthday one year. I went with my mom to buy it, and it rang up $44.95. This was 1990. I bought Metroid: Other M for that same price at Target last year. To show the inflation, bread was 70 cents in 1990, and is now just over $2. Games were prohibitively expensive, so buying one only to find out it was tortuously hard was an especially raw deal. Remember, there was no Gamestop resale-friendly culture back then, either. You bought a game, you were stuck with it.
Yes, you should be proud you could beat the racing level on Battletoads. You should be proud of being able to start a fire with two sticks as well, but don't call the guy with a lighter lazy just because he's got the better technology.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.