1. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania

    What Says "Early 1980s" to You?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Catrin Lewis, Apr 23, 2016.

    First off, yes, there was a recent thread also dealing with the 1980s in America, but it didn't go the direction I need now.

    So. I just got the first (and last) comments back on my WIP from my latest, now-ex beta reader. My novel takes place in 1981 - 1982, and I head each part of the story with the date stamp of the month and the year. Even so, the beta kept forgetting the story isn't set today, and questioned why my characters weren't using the Internet, didn't call Homeland Security when they suspected terrorism, etc. I thought I'd salted in plenty of references to show that it was an earlier time, but clearly, they aren't enough. Or they're so esoteric that no one who wasn't an adult then would pick them up.

    So for the younger members of the forums especially, what would say "early 1980s" to you? I can't go too heavily on pop music and TV, since my main characters are two workaholics who don't watch much television and are into classical music, not pop. But maybe inserting a few song and TV show titles, called out as new, would work? What about clothes and fashion? I thought I had enough of that in, but I guess not enough. Or models of cars?

    And what about mentioning politicians and office holders of the day? My MMC refers obliquely to President Reagan a time or two, but only as "the president." To my perception, most people either love him or hate him, and I don't want to distract from my story by raising unnecessary issues. Am I being too cautious? Would the name of Ronald Reagan be a sure-fire (and non-distracting) marker to the period we're in?

    Any other ideas? This beta is the first one who's been confused to this degree as to the setting date, but if she was, others could be, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  2. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,426
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Those big brick cellphones.
    These two sites should help with fashion.
    http://www.complex.com/style/the-80-greatest-80s-fashion-trends/
    http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/fashion/g2783/bad-80s-fashion-trends/

    The Terminator movie.

    This site should help with cars:
    https://www.thrillist.com/cars/nation/the-15-most-80s-cars-of-the-1980s-delorean-countach-testarossa

    This site is time period relevant stereo types:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/catsparella/80-totally-awesome-things-from-the-80s-1ruv

    Well this is what I can do on short notice, but I hope it will be a good starter to help out with your needs of 80s things. Good luck.:p
     
    tumblingdice likes this.
  3. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks. Since my MMC/hero drives an ancient, battered Ford, I've made it into a late-'60s Ford Galaxie. The heroine buys a used 1979 Honda Civic. Hope that'll help clue folks in that this isn't 2016.

    I'll check the links.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  4. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Could mention the woman maybe wearing a skirt and Leggs pantyhose. Maybe mention fabrics -like nylon or corduroy jackets. Blouses usually had little attached ties on the front. And things were color coordinated. Earth tones were big.
    They could make reference quips - where do you think you are Fantasy Island? She looked like Barbara Mandrell or he looks like Robert Redford. Rainbow suspenders - I see someone's a Mork and Mindy fan. Slow down! who do you think you are the dukes of Hazzard.
    Phil Collins on the radio. Cassette tapes in the car. The woman could elaborately set her hair in heated rollers in front of her light-up mirror. Your main character could love drinking Tab. Men might be more courteous in the 80s. And a woman in business might have to strive more to be heard as woman's lib was still struggling.
    Sportswear was becoming big along with exercise and diets - Jane Fonda Work out etc. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.
     
    tumblingdice likes this.
  5. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,822
    Likes Received:
    7,349
    Location:
    Scotland
    Hair was fun, and very individual. I turned 30 in 1979, but the 80s were the first (and only) time in my life, both clothing and hair suited me. I felt great, and felt I looked good. Wild curly heads on women, styled longish hair on men. Still not much in the way of greasy heads, except on the disco people. Not much makeup (which changed a lot by the late 80s.) Legwarmers. Leggings. Nice loose clothing worn in layers. Cowboy boots on women. The ethnic look.

    Vegetarians usually had to eat salad or salad on a bun when they went to restaurants.

    Reagan was president (first elected in 1980), which is when I started thinking seriously about moving permanently overseas. And I did, in 1986.
     
  6. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,426
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    @Catrin Lewis Your welcome. It was an arduous task to get on the googles for the materials. :supergrin: I kinda wish I was able to grow up in the 80s.:p But I had the luck of being born in the latter years of that decade. :)
     
  7. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The clothes were definitely better in the '80s than in the '70s. They finally had some style and shape to them. Believe it or not, I still have some of my mid-'80s clothes and yes, even wear them when I lose weight. Trouble is, they aren't the kind that are considered iconic for the time. I and the architects I hung out with were more into classic and preppy. Oxford shirts, flannel or chino slacks, blue velvet blazers, jewel tones, blouses in pure silk (thanks to Nixon opening up China-- that's one thing he was useful for), sweaters in pure wool, that sort of thing. My characters are patterned off that, so you won't catch them dead in neon Spandex or with hair that looks like they stuck their finger in a light socket. :-D
     
  8. Kate Sen
    Offline

    Kate Sen Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    Solidarity and martial law in Poland, followed by Glasnost in Russia. The beginnings of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe, the first hints of the end of the Cold War. Even if your story is set in the US and your characters are workaholics surely they could not avoid talking about this with coworkers.
     
    jannert likes this.
  9. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,822
    Likes Received:
    7,349
    Location:
    Scotland
    Here's a list of movies that were made in between 1980 and 1985 in the USA, and also set in the same time period:

    The Breakfast Club
    Risky Business
    St Elmo's Fire
    Ordinary People
    The Big Chill
    Tootsie
    Rollover
    Body Heat
    Romancing the Stone
    An Officer and a Gentleman
    Witness
    Footloose
     
  10. Kate Sen
    Offline

    Kate Sen Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    I know you said early 1980s and listening to classical music, but if you are willing to set it in 1985, and allow your characters to overhear one pop song on the radio, I think Sting's song "Russians" which he released in 1985 is a pretty good atmosphere setting for the pre-glasnost era:
     
  11. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks. Funny thing is, I was around then, and the only thing I remember about that song is the line "the Russians love their children too." But I like the musical quotation from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije. What I might do is have the heroine, who's despairing of ever getting together with the hero, hear the Diana Ross-Lionel Richie song "Endless Love," which was new in 1981, and think ironically how that ain't ever gonna happen for her. Or maybe Sheena Easton's "Morning Train," which is suitably maddening.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  12. Kate Sen
    Offline

    Kate Sen Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    Have someone use a pay phone?
     
    jannert likes this.
  13. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Oh, yes, I have that, later on. At a service station with one of those cords that go ding! when the cars run over it, so the attendant can run out and pump your gas for you. :agreed:
     
    jannert likes this.
  14. Kate Sen
    Offline

    Kate Sen Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    I just double-checked, by 1984 70% of all gas stations in the US were self service. So yes, there would have been attendant gas stations in the early 80s but fewer and fewer.
     
    jannert likes this.
  15. IHaveNoName
    Offline

    IHaveNoName Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    164
    Caravans were the new "family car" that replaced station wagons.
    Those short shorts with the stripes down the sides, and the polo shirts with the alligator logos.
    GI Joe, Barbie, and Transformers were big.
    Alien, Star Wars, and Jaws were too (how could anyone forget those??)
    Drive-in movie theaters (we had one down the road from where I grew up).
    Cocaine.
    Saturday morning cartoons.

    I just thought of something - you ever see those "child of the 80's" lists that used to go around a lot? This one brings back memories.
     
    Kate Sen likes this.
  16. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,822
    Likes Received:
    7,349
    Location:
    Scotland
    • Yeah, I lived in a medium sized town in Michigan at that time, and all petrol stations were self-service. I think you have to go back to the early 70s to find the last of the 'ding' stations. I remember working next door to one of those in 1972.
     
  17. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,080
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Actually, I have a "ding" station on my block. Let's hear it for the Kwik-Fill!

    In my city in the Midwest in the mid- and later '80s we had stations that were both self and full service. Seems to me the self-service was a penny or two cheaper per gallon.
     
  18. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,822
    Likes Received:
    7,349
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, I remember being very disgruntled because the 'service stations' had become just party stores with gas pumps outside—and it was the 1980s when I was regularly driving. I thought this was a very big step downwards. (Still do.) But the fact that I remember this feeling must indicate that it hadn't been changed for long.

    Last place I found the full service stations was in Nova Scotia in 2002. Such a welcome change! Employment for young people that wasn't McDonalds or the equivalent, plus if you were having trouble with your car while you were on the road, it was a place you could stop and get advice. Try getting that from the attendant behind the counter at a self-serve party store.
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    I can't really say what says 1980s to me, but I can give you a few things that scream not the 1980s...
    • people high-fiving each other every seven minutes,
    • fist-pump accompanied by, "Yes!"
    • characters going out of their way to be politically correct (the only PC thing my friends and I were even aware of at the time was feminism),
    • no one in the story smokes,
    • characters that all have healthy diets,
    • characters in any position of power or authority in so-called first-world countries who aren't white males (there were some who weren't, but they were very few and far between),
    And now that I think about it, there are a few things that do say 1980s...
    • if you were male, the most likely place to get together with friends was at a bar
    • everywhere you went, people were allowed to smoke, even in hospitals (although they usually restricted smoking in hospitals to specific public areas. Other notable exceptions were: churches, libraries and school classrooms, but some still smoked in those places during off hours.),
    • if you talked about drug use of any kind in public (even marijuana), you always did it in code, just in case, because you never knew who was an undercover cop,
    • a lot of people socialized by sitting in restaurants drinking coffee and smoking,
    • buying a car meant you had taken a step up the ladder of status (in North America, anyway; I don't know about the rest of the world).
    And then there are the obvious things like, nobody had a computer unless they were a card-carrying geek-nerd complete with pocket-protector and glasses, if you were out and needed to make a phone call, you used a phonebooth or tried to convince someone in a restaurant or bar to let you use theirs, and hair styles were all over the map.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
    jannert and Catrin Lewis like this.
  20. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,822
    Likes Received:
    7,349
    Location:
    Scotland
    Aye, the smoking. It was everywhere, especially in restaurants. I do remember it was the 1980s when no-smoking 'sections' came in to some restaurants. I also remember giving a party with my roommate once, probably in 1981 or 1982 and at one point he came up to me on the quiet and said "I've just counted 21 people here, and none of them are smoking!" That was noteworthy.
     
  21. newjerseyrunner
    Offline

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    304
    Likes Received:
    231
    Atari and Apple computers.
    The USSR in Afghanistan.
    The fashion was 70's light, like the 70s was a crazy party and the 80s was the messy aftermath.
    Music slowly shifted from thc influenced to cocaine influenced.
    Recession.
    The Voyager probes were passing by the gas giants.
    Movie industry was just being taken over by Stephen Speilberg: Jaws, Star Wars
     
  22. Pixelated Porn
    Offline

    Pixelated Porn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    18
    arcades
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  23. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,531
    Likes Received:
    2,828
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    still some rotary phones? TV's with antennas that had tin foil on them? Getting up to turn the channel? E.T. came out in 1982. That was a big deal. Drive in movie theaters were big. The Happy Meal at MacDonalds started in 1979, so that is close. Jean jackets, pegging pant legs, members only jackets, Ray Ban sun glasses, Nike was just becoming popular, and station wagon cars.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  24. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,426
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Metallica came out. Journey was a big deal. Slayer became one of the first thrash bands in '81. The rise of Nintendo.

    http://history1900s.about.com/od/timelines/tp/1980timeline.htm

    All the important events (I guess) that took place throughout the 1980s are in the link. :p
     
  25. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,531
    Likes Received:
    2,828
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    I think she is wanting more information about mostly the early 80's. Like the Commodor 64, the original Atari game system which came out in the late 70's, and things like that.
     
  26. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,426
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Well the events thing is worth a look, and Slayer did come out in 81. So technically I am trying to help a smidge. :supergrin:
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.

Share This Page