If I had a dime for every time someone told us to get cable, then… I’d be able to afford cable.
I’m kidding. We actually DON’T have cable, but not for budgetary reasons. We decided just prior to having kids that we’d ditch the cable in order to avoid wasting excessive time watching TV.
Six kids later, we clearly put our non-TV time to good use, eh?…
But whether people know that or not, we’ve frequently gotten that line. When someone hears how many kids we have, inevitably one will fire back the “get some cable!” line.
So we don’t have cable. I think it’s a good thing for our kids not to, because I can’t imagine how much time would be drained away in front of the TV if we did. Not only that, but the ole’ “ignorance is bliss” adage applies- our kids don’t typically request many toys, movies, etc. because they aren’t exposed to the consumerism of the commercials.
This perplexes people. It bothers them; they feel like our kids are deprived. They’re missing out- it’d be easier to just turn the TV on, once in awhile, right?
My own mother, in fact, is one of these people. If the kids are bored or restless, I’ll inevitably hear the magic words, “Oh, just put the TV on for them already!”
(Disclaimer: My mom is a fantastic mom and grandma who lavishes love and attention on both her children & grandchildren. Are you reading this, Ma??)
Now to be specific, though we don’t have cable, we DO have TV. We have both DVDs and Netflix, so it’s not as if our kids are growing up without watching many of the movies and shows that their peers are. I do like being able to monitor what they’re watching, at least at these younger ages.
But thinking about the cable conundrum got me to thinking about what I watched as a kid. And since everyone has their fair share of childhood trauma, I realized that several of the movies and commercials I saw as a kid undoubtedly affected my thoughts about the world.
I can tell you right off the bat that these won’t be the “typical” selections that the majority of 80’s kids would list, but that’s because I’m unique. And special. I really am- my mom told me so. Seriously.
10. Flash Gordon
The costumes. The epic battles scenes. Sam Jones’ delightfully horrible acting. That horrifying moment when the poor youth sticks his hand in the tree monster’s trunk & gets stung…! And most importantly, the ah-amazing soundtrack by Queen, who became one of my favorite bands EVER. Though the Princess Aura’s punishment whipping scene was a little…um.. intense for a 7 year old. But like I said, QUEEN.
And do I still listen to the Flash Gordon soundtrack in my car? Yes. Yes, I do. (WINNING!)
I’m not sure if it was because we thought it was great, or because it was on HBO every.five.seconds., but this one was a favorite of my brother and I. A cop with a bad American accent who has radioactivated superpowers to fight criminals with, unless he sees the color red, his own kryptonite? Yes, please.
(Sidenote: my brother and I were thrilled to find a DVD copy of the movie a few years back, & watched in breathless anticipation. A potent reminder: childhood- you CAN’T go back. Because it’s full of bad acting. And Ernest Borgnine sailing off to China on a giant bubble gum balloon.)
Of COURSE Annie was going to make this list, because I am a- female, and b- grew up in the 80’s; both factors that make this movie a required part of this list. I can tell you that I hated Annie’s ‘fro, had a weird fetish for Tim Curry’s Rooster, and of course was terrified that one day, I too would end up clinging for my life from massive scaffolding hundreds of feet off the ground in NYC… but the songs were cute, huh? And though I muttered every word to “It’s A Hard Knock Life” as I vacuumed, I can tell you now that I can related a helluva lot more to Miss Hannigan’s angst, which is why I will instead include this clip as an homage to the stress of female overpopulation…
7. PSA: “We’re Not Candy”
I can’t recall specifically, but I’m willing to bet that the 80’s were full of kids planted in front of TVs while their parents were off being productive* (*smoking weed and/or playing cards with friends), which is probably why TV executives felt the need to teach children via public service announcements that, NO, that’s not candy. Don’t think that the pills your slacker parents left out in that open bottle of medicine is candy, 80’s babies, because it’s NOT. And just to be sure you know, here’s a cute little song about it- you know, the pills that can kill.
6. PSA: “It’s 10pm; Do You Know Where Your Children Are??”
Seriously, HOW much easier did 80’s parents have it than we do today?? I remember these clearly; you’d be watching evening TV, and all of a sudden, on comes this commercial. So basically, our parents needed a TV COMMERCIAL to remind them that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t home, and maybe, just maybe, they should first figure out if we WERE home, & if not, WHERE we were. Whaaa???
5. Mommy Dearest
#5 originally held The Smurfs, but in thinking about the TV & movies that made an impression, this one needed to be mentioned. This is another one that I felt like was on HBO all the time, because I know I saw it more than once. And it sticks with you, you know? Another classic that my brother and I remember… “No…more…wire…. HANGERS!!!!”
I didn’t know that it was biographical. I didn’t know who Joan Crawford was. But who cared?? Because she was fantastically awful, & we LOVED it. I just remember Comet, and face mask, and (and WHY was that boy strapped into that bed??? We never knew.)
4. You Can’t Do That On Television
Now Canada, I blame you for this twisted mess of pre-teen oddity that was so darn addictive. Everything about it: the locker jokes, the green slime, the guy that played nearly every adult role, the Canadian accents that my friends and I tried to imitate. It was all that was so wrong about the 80’s, yet so darn RIGHT.
3. The Karate Kid
Ok, I’ve told you I was a tomboy- I hated Ralph Macchio’s whiny little self, & felt like he deserved to get his whiny little a$$ kicked after that bathroom water stunt. That being said, I LOVED this movie. How cute was Mr. Miyagi??? I wanted to hang out with him in that little handyman booth of his and learn all the mad skills he passed on to Daniel. I can still crane kick the crap out of anyone, though tougher to attempt on a fellow 80’s child, because they know it’s coming.
I’ve included the most AMAZING part of the movie right here. And I’ll freely tell you that this song is on my iPod for workouts. I have no shame.
2. The Goonies
Ok, I was tempted to say Rocky (tomboy, remember), but in terms of numbers of views through early childhood, this one tops it. SO what if the kids were being stalked by a criminal band intending to kill them? Or that they nearly died repeatedly through the film? The hijinks were fun, I wanted to marry Sean Astin, the soundtrack included Cyndi Lauper, and hi, where were the parents???
Holy F&*^. This one not only makes the list, but is #1 on the Top 10 (which is not in any order, other than #1). Why?? Because it’s TERRIFYING. And I saw it when I was SIX. I was at the next door neighbor’s house, and my parents, having no idea what it was about, were all, “Sure!”
Remember that tree?? The one that smashes the boy’s window and tried to EAT HIM?
Or the clown that tried to strangle him?
Or how the terrifying monster in the closet? Or the dead bodies shooting up from their watery pool graves?
We had a pool. We had trees. I had a closet. No clown, granted. But just in case, I took a running start and jumped into bed each night, just in case there was a clown under my bed. Just in case.
Oh, and the trailer above? Hope it’s good; I wouldn’t know, because I wouldn’t dare watch it. Ever, ever again.
So in a nutshell, you can thank this list for the amalgam of quirks, yearnings, and fears that shaped my childhood… so thanks, Mom & Dad, for selflessly allowing me so many hours planted in front of our TV to mold myself into the person that I am today.
(And don’t even get me started on the Rocky films….!! Or The Toy…. maybe a Top 20 is in order?)
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