Generation Born in 80s Now Performs 80s

Rifle Men (above) are on the label that brought us MGMT, Cantora Records.

I’m at the Book Mill with my friend Melanie Fallon, on a writing date. It’s going well. A beautiful brown lab dog is periodically walking through and making friends. Some people are using outside voice inside, though. Not great. I think of them as lonely–it isn’t enough for the people in front of them to hear them.

On the way here we talked about the 80s so much that we missed our exit and drove too far. But in the process, we concluded the 80s aesthetic that is so popular is a nostalgia for the period when Americans believed we’d won the Cold War, Capitalism had defeated Communism and we were safe from our greatest enemies. An addictive mix, despite the emergence of AIDS and the first Gulf War.

The conversation was an extension of one I’d had with my friend Teddy O’Connor at the home of Sabina Murray and John Hennessy. Teddy showed us the above video after dinner, and we all talked at length about how perfectly his generation, born in the 80s, performs the 80s.

This all feels a little eerie now. But I still like this song. The video of course references the popular aerobics classes in Williamsburg now.

Returning with part 3 of the MFA series shortly.


  1. I love that song and video. Thanks for posting it, Alex. I had not heard of the Rifle Men before. Now I must buy their music.

  2. I think you are probably correct in some of your analysis of some of the more collective or broader social/cultural, etc. reasons the 80’s comeback stuff has caught fire… it certainly sounds reasonable.

    At the same time, being someone from that generation born in the 80’s and myself attracted to 80’s sounds and fashion and such… but also very supportive of social justice organizers & activists and quite critical of the lingering effects of Reagan-era economic policies… I don’t know. I am still working through what all this means.

    …I think some of what I embrace from the 80’s (and maybe parts of the 70’s as well, to a certain extent) is… outlandish color, makeup, excess, metallics, shiny things…. stuff that for me still feels transgressive, if not revolutionary, within the context of my Queer and gender politics.

    And I would say in many of the social networks I inhabit, the 80’s nostalgia has always seemed to me explicitly depoliticized. We tend to talk abt songs, cartoon shows, all this pop culture stuff, completely divorced from the social and historical context that produced it… almost like fetish objects, I suppose. It has always seemed very much like nostalgia for childhood and maybe for a time of political ignorance, which perhaps supports your thesis (or how that era of optimism might appear to someone who was a child as it went down). …I do sometimes feel like my generation tends to rush to nostalgia exceedingly quickly …I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in groups of “Gen-Y” folks who spend hours bonding over remembered cartoon shows. And this is not just a recent phenomenon, it was happening long before we were old enough for 80’s nostalgia to start hitting the cultural mainstream like is happening now …and I think if you look at some of the fiction getting published in the indie lit community written by folks my age (I’m 27), for instance late 80’s video games appear rather frequently as an image or trope. …I often find myself wondering whether we are in some way quicker to nostalgia (I mean some folks were already doing 90’s nostalgia several years ago) than previous generations, or… ?

    1. Oh, I think we’re quicker to nostalgia, definitely. And I get what you mean vis a vis the queer stuff especially–it was an exciting time culturally and politically. I may even just be longing for a time when I didn’t have culture-war fatigue.

  3. Who needs 80s performance when we’ve already got earlier 90s performance? I think we’ll be seeing more of this in 2010:

    1. Terrifying. It’s right out of Saved By The Bell. What I loved about the Rifle Men video is that it winks at you but is also cool 80s.

      1. Ha! …There are also folks working to revive the early-90’s “club kid” thing, having seen the movie “Party Monster” and the documentary it was based on. Hopefully less drug addiction and murder.

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