Oh 1984. In George Orwell’s novel of the same name, the world was in a perpetual state of war, surveillance cameras were everywhere, and television programming ran 24 hours per day. Give the guy a hand; he wasn’t that far off.
Carl Lewis won four medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles. And in response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer games in Moscow, several countries, including the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany, boycotted the games.
I was just three years old in 1984, so I don’t really remember much from it other than vague recollections of curling up with my Kermit the Frog blanket during nap time at my preschool. My parents were deeply invested in the presidential election and devastated to see Ronald Reagan defeat Walter Mondale to earn a second term in the biggest landslide since Lyndon Johnson bested Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Turning to movies, several big franchises were either born or spawned sequels this year, among other films. Long before he was fathering illegitimate children with his longtime maid, Arnold Schwarzenegger took audiences by storm in The Terminator. Ralph Macchio first waxed on and off in The Karate Kid, we became acquainted with the furry, cute, yet destructive creatures known as Gremlins, and Captain Kirk and crew embarked on their most dangerous mission yet in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Tom Hanks fell in love with a mermaid in Splash. Eddie Murphy, fresh from Saturday Night Live took on the role of street-smart cop Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, Harrison Ford starred in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I know I cried my eyes out during the hospital scene of Terms of Endearment when Shirley McLaine desperately seeks a nurse for her dying daughter, played by Debra Winger. And we learned that when someone asks, “Who you gonna call?” the answer is Ghostbusters.
In the television landscape, Cheers was becoming one of the most popular shows after a rocky start a few years earlier. Repeats aired at 10pm weeknights in Phoenix when I was growing up, so I got to catch up on all of the older episodes while simultaneously watching the new ones Thursdays on NBC. I was always a sucker for the Sam-Diane (Ted Danson-Shelley Long) on-again, off-again romance. I fantasized that I, myself, would one day find such a passionate love affair…..with the backdrop of a neighborhood Boston bar, of course. Then came the Kirstie Alley years, which, while still great, didn’t excite me as much. Who could’ve guessed that Kirstie would go on to do such great things post-Cheers such as star in three seasons of Veronica’s Closet and become tabloid fodder for continually gaining and losing the same 150 pounds?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, J.R. Ewing was having affairs and plotting ways to maximize profits for his family’s oil company on Dallas, shoulder pads were ruling the roost on Dynasty, Sharon Gless and Tyne Daley were busying solving crimes and trying not to look like lesbian lovers on Cagney and Lacey, Mr. T was pitying the fool on The A-Team, Tom Selleck was a private investigator with the finest mustache on all of Oahu in Magnum P.I., and the kids attending the New York City High School for the Performing Arts wanted to live forever on Fame.
In the game show world, new versions of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune shot to the top of the syndicated ratings. Wheel was a very different show back then; the contests didn’t win cash prizes but instead bid on specific items. Pat Sajak and Vanna White recently revealed in an interview that the experience in the beginning was so bad that they escaped to a local Mexican bar to drink two or six margaritas during the break, only to return somewhat drunk to the set to continue the show. I’ll bet the alphabet was a bit fuzzy after that.
Fortunately for us, 1984 wasn’t the completely bleak, war ravished world envisioned by Mr. Orwell. There may have been some conflicts, disagreements, and areas that need improvement. But when isn’t that the case? 1984….you rock.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Josh Kossack is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he isn’t cruising around with his convertible top down or reading to the blind, he can be found putting Sriracha on pretty much everything under the sun.