July 17th, 2019 by Proprietor
In a previous post, I stated how I was enjoying Stranger Things, because I could identify with the characters. Growing up in the 1980s in a small midwestern town was a wonderful experience. Since I will have to wait until the DVD set comes out to view season 3, I will base this post on what I watched in seasons 1 & 2, with some information picked up from reviews, YouTube, etc. in regards to season 3.
What I found really strange were some of the reviewers whom seemed to view the show from a very anachronistic state. The reviewers were judging the 1980s attitudes portrayed in the period piece that is Stranger Things with modern societal social constructs. Granted for me, viewing a show set in the 1980s as a period piece makes me now understand my parents, the writers of the reviews probably have parents whom lived through the time frame. Asking mom and dad some questions might have clarified certain concepts.
In the early 1980s nuclear war with the Soviet Union (Russia) was a very real thing. Global Warming was not a concern, because we were heading toward another Ice Age, and we had Acid Rain. The nation as a whole was suffering from a post traumatic disorder over the Vietnam War, so everyone was not into possible conflict. Gas Lines, and maximum Peak Production were worries of sorts, but the US survived those. On the bright side there were hair bands, angsty teenage dramady, raunchy teenage movies, and punk was a solid subculture.
Movies in the 1980s were fantastic. The geek driven blockbusters like Ghostbusters, Star Wars, et al are referenced in Stranger Things very heavily. Yet, there were movies that really showed what being a teenager in the eighties was about. Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) stared in several movies, I recommend Heathers, a dark comedy, but gives some insight into high school life. High Schools are always cliquish, but the 1980s seemed more so, and dramatic. Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, and Vision Quest are all movies from the 1980s that give a good deal of insight into the way teenagers felt. Molly Ringwald stars in three of the movies, she was the IT girl of the time, and it would be awesome if Molly had a part in Stranger Things.
One of the things mentioned in a review was “Toxic Masculinity” as represented by Billy. There were a lot of things boys did in the 1980s that could be construed as toxic by today’s standards, but boys were growing up and becoming men, thus being macho was the ideal. Macho entailed confidence in one’s self, and in being a man. When Billy shows up, women are turned on by his muscles, attitude, and hair. Granted Billy is a bully, but the whole macho attitude was not Germaine to bullies in the 1980s. Also, no one really cared about anyone’s sexual orientation. AIDS became a very real scare in the 1980s, some of the jokes made would melt snowflakes these days, but people were concerned. There were and always will be homophobes. Grow up.
Overall, as a period piece, Stranger Things holds up. The attitudes of the characters are somewhat reflective of what people felt back then. The boys are geeks, but seem to be tight as friends. If reviewers view Stranger Things as a representation of the times, and do not pass judgement based on today’s moors, they might actually enjoy the show more, as well as gain some insight.
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