Whether you lived done the ‘80s oregon simply person absorbed immoderate details via Stranger Things, instrumentality a look astatine immoderate of the myths surrounding the “me decade,” adapted from Misconceptions connected Youtube.
One of these kids is simply a existent mullet head. / Leon Morris/GettyImages
Of each the oversized, regrettable hairstyles of the 1980s, 1 atrocious prime sits supra the rest: the mullet, a.k.a the squirrel pelt. The Arkansas waterfall. The ape drape. The signifier of cutting your hairsbreadth abbreviated successful the beforehand and sides and keeping it agelong successful the back. It’s a look that says you cognize however to enactment and inactive amusement up for enactment much oregon little sober the adjacent day.
And it’s a look that perfectly nary 1 really called a mullet successful the ‘80s. It wasn’t until 1994, erstwhile the Beastie Boys released a opus called “Mullet Head,” that the unfortunate hairstyle was fixed its arsenic unfortunate name. The phrae mullet head, as an insult for a anserine person, dates backmost to 1855. But earlier the Beastie Boys’s song, the ‘do was sometimes called a bi-level.
2. Misconception: “Stranger danger” plagued the country.
Children larn to debar kidnappers. / David McNew/GettyImages
If you could acceptable wrong a car trunk successful the ‘80s, you were perpetually warned astir the perils of interacting with strangers. Newscasts and newspapers were rife with stories astir missing kids and cautionary tales astir kid abductions. It was adjacent fixed a catchy name: stranger danger. But was determination truly an epidemic of kidnappings?
There was not. There were immoderate unfortunate circumstances that led the nationalist to beryllium acrophobic of one, though. In the aboriginal 1980s, a fig of missing children—including 2 paperboys successful Iowa named Johnny Gosch and Eugene Wade Martin—received a large woody of media attention. The disappearance of Adam Walsh successful 1981 lone added to the concern. More than 38 cardinal viewers tuned into a 1983 TV movie astir his abduction. Cartoons had warnings astir talking to unusual adults. One survey estimated kids up to 5th people were astir arsenic acrophobic of being kidnapped arsenic they were of atomic war.
The wide sum of these incidents made it look similar the information was omnipresent. At 1 point, the media was reporting up to 50,000 children were being abducted annually, and the show of missing kids connected beverage cartons meant anyone having meal was being confronted with the anticipation of a child—maybe their child—going missing.
But adjacent backmost successful 1985, the Los Angeles Times was reporting information that formed immoderate superior uncertainty connected the expected spate of kid abductions. The FBI had reports of 67 alien kidnappings that year, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said they had “firm records” of 142 cases.
Obviously, each 1 of those cases is 1 excessively many, but the media absorption connected alien information risks misled the nationalist astir the existent risks posed to children. In 2018, for example, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported helping instrumentality enforcement with 25,000 missing children cases. Of those, 23,500 were runaways and 1000 had been abducted by household members, immoderate of which whitethorn person been related to parental custody issues. In different words, determination wasn’t, statistically speaking, that overmuch information from strangers—just a comparative fistful of high-profile cases that captured the public’s imaginativeness and a overmuch larger fig of unfortunate, but little sensationalistic, stories not involving strangers astatine all.
In 2017, the halfway adjacent called for an extremity to the operation stranger danger, citing statistic that astir crimes progressive radical the kid knew and that astatine times it mightiness really beryllium beneficial for a kid to scope retired to a alien if they request help. And successful utmost circumstances, it’s adjacent OK to attack idiosyncratic with a mullet.
Reading astir the Wall Street clang connected the New York City subway. / James Marshall/GettyImages
Everyone who remembers the 1980s remembers a decennary of excess. Cocaine. Money. A questionable fig of limb warmers. But did radical successful the ‘80s truly person an unquenchable thirst for wealth?
Probably nary much truthful than successful immoderate different decade. One mode to specify greed is by the magnitude of charitable giving being done, oregon deficiency thereof. By that metric, the ‘80s saw unprecedented generosity. In 1980, Americans gave astir $65 cardinal to charity. By the extremity of the decade, that fig had grown to over $100 billion. As a percent of nationalist income, that’s acold higher than it was successful the 25 years anterior to 1980.
Was each that generosity a effect of greater wealth? Could be. But the maturation successful charitable giving outpaced what radical successful the ‘80s were spending connected worldly goods. Giving grew 68 percent that decennary implicit decades prior, portion full user spending grew 48 percent.
It’s casual to spot wherefore radical stereotype the ‘80s arsenic the “me decade.” In the United States, income taxation rates were slashed connected the highest earners—but for overmuch of the decennary they were inactive higher than today’s apical rates.
In the 1980s, the number of millionaires successful the state went from 2.8 cardinal to 3.2 million. But doubly arsenic galore caller millionaires were minted successful the 1990s.
Yes, galore brokers liked flashy watches and suits. Madonna had a deed with “Material Girl.” But does flashy adjacent greedy? Greed typically means hoarding arsenic overmuch arsenic you can. Record charitable giving doesn’t enactment that idea.
4. Misconception: Pay phones were untraceable transgression hotlines.
An L.A. Rams cheerleader makes a telephone telephone astatine halftime. / George Rose/Getty Images
Before the proliferation of smartphones, making a telephone portion extracurricular of your location typically meant utilizing a wage phone—those virtually indestructible nationalist phones successful booths oregon installed connected streets that seemed to shriek out, “Please usage maine to behaviour amerciable activity.” Many radical thought that nary 1 could trace a nationalist phone, allowing cause dealers to screen their tracks. Some communities adjacent lobbied to person wage phones removed, citing concerns implicit transgression activity.
But nationalist wage phones really worked a batch similar regular landline phones. Inserting a coin and dialing a fig created the aforesaid grounds of the date, time, and recipient of the telephone call, making for a useful notation for instrumentality enforcement.
It’s existent that immoderate company’s wage phones didn’t support specified records, but others did. And since astir criminals didn’t fuss making the distinction, anyone relying connected a wage telephone to behaviour amerciable concern was taking a accidental that their illicit enactment would beryllium discovered. The caller mightiness beryllium capable to stay anonymous, but astir everything else, similar the clip and magnitude of the call, and the fig connected the different end, was just game. Some cities adjacent removed the quality for a wage telephone to person an inbound telephone successful bid to marque it much hard for dealers to dainty the telephone booth similar a distant office. The phones simply weren’t a foolproof method of concealing a person’s identity.
Because of the stigma, though, a batch of wage phones were removed from places wherever they were of existent usage to law-abiding citizens. Removing them apt did acold much to support guiltless radical from making innocuous calls than it did to assistance criminals support themselves anonymous.
Interestingly, successful 1946, lone half of U.S. homes had a location phone. In immoderate neighborhoods, 1 wage telephone mightiness work aggregate homes. And yes, criminals were up to payphone mischief backmost then, too. Wise guys sometimes tied strings to coins to effort and propulsion them backmost retired of the instrumentality aft making calls. These would-be freeloaders were often thwarted, though, by drawstring cutters wrong the phones, a low-tech information measurement that started to look astir the 1930s.
The higher the hair, the person to God. / Independent News and Media/GettyImages
Mullets were not the lone questionable follicular prime of the ‘80s. Many men and women teased, preened, and shaped their hairsbreadth into wavy cascades utilizing voluminous amounts of hairspray.
In 1985, this vanity seemed to person brought the satellite to the brink of destruction. That’s erstwhile idiosyncratic Joseph Farman and others disclosed that the atmospheric ozone implicit Antarctica had been reduced by astir 40 percent. Ozone, oregon trioxygen, is simply a state that protects america from the sun’s potent UV rays. It’s nature’s sunscreen.
Farman and others pointed the digit astatine chlorofluorocarbons, oregon CFCs, a benignant of chemic that had been commonly utilized successful hairspray, aerial conditioners, and refrigerators; levels of CFCs had risen precocious capable to harm the ozone layer.
But adjacent though that mentation was confirmed successful the 1980s, it had really been developed successful the 1970s. It was successful that decennary that manufacturers voluntarily stopped utilizing CFCs and the United States banned CFC usage successful aerosol products, but successful the lawsuit of definite aesculapian applications similar inhalers. So those super-high hairdos successful the ‘80s did not actively lend to the spread successful the ozone layer.
We don’t perceive astir the hole overmuch anymore since the passing of the Montreal Protocol successful 1987, which banned astir ozone-depleting substances from usage connected a planetary level. With immoderate luck, the ozone could beryllium afloat replenished successful the adjacent fewer decades.
6. Misconception: Everyone hated the sensation of New Coke.
A billboard for New Coke. / Todd Gipstein/GettyImages
It’s considered 1 of the biggest user products blunders of each time. In April 1985, aft months of research, Coca-Cola unveiled a portion they dubbed New Coke. It was a sweeter, much syrupy mentation of their classical recipe, 1 they hoped would amended vie with the surging rivals astatine Pepsi. This wasn’t conscionable an alternative; it was a replacement.
Why was Coca-Cola truthful assured successful switching up 1 of the astir beloved brushed drinks successful the world? Taste tests. Extensive marketplace probe demonstrated that subjects preferred a somewhat little fizzy and somewhat sweeter Coke. And this wasn’t a fewer radical they cornered astatine a buying mall. The institution conducted a reported 190,000 sensation tests, and the results prompted the caller formula.
Unfortunately, what Coca-Cola didn’t number connected was the affectional transportation radical had with the sensation of OG Coke. New Coke was rapidly condemned by soft-drink enthusiasts, and communal contented has it that Coke pulled the portion from shelves astir instantly owing to wide outrage.
While the portion had plentifulness of detractors, though, nary was arsenic vocal arsenic Gay Mullins, a semi-retired existent property cause who recovered New Coke truthful off-putting helium sunk $100,000 into a run against it. Mullins was often cited successful the media, giving interviews and buzzworthy quotes similar calling the deficiency of soda prime “un-American” and the caller look “unbelievably wimpy.” He sent retired bumper stickers and acceptable up telephone hotlines. Gay Mullins was waging a warfare against Coca-Cola, and helium was winning.
It turns retired that his motives whitethorn not person been wholly altruistic. Mullins aboriginal admitted helium was hoping to origin capable commotion for Coca-Cola to wage him successful hush money, oregon adjacent animate Pepsi to diagnostic him successful a campaign. When Coke yet relented and withdrew New Coke arsenic its superior offering successful June, Mullins said he’d beryllium blessed to talk connected their behalf—for $200,000 per appearance. In the eventual motion Mullins whitethorn not person been a existent devotee, helium couldn’t archer the quality betwixt Coca-Cola Classic and New Coke successful a unsighted sensation test.
One different large misconception astir New Coke: It didn’t really spell distant successful the ‘80s. Coca-Cola near it connected shelves and fto consumers determine which spirit they preferred. The institution kept accumulation of the merchandise rolling until 2002, nether the sanction Coke II.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. / KMazur/GettyImages
Everyone knows the story. The ‘80s were ruled by Mötley Crüe, Poison, Van Halen—gods of rock who sported the benignant of hairsbreadth that could theoretically destruct the ozone layer. And then, successful the aboriginal 1990s, the Seattle sound took over. Spandex pants were traded for cardigans and bands similar Nirvana and Alice successful Chains sounded the decease knell for flashy stone bands.
Of course, grunge grew popular, but it wasn’t precisely astatine the disbursal of hairsbreadth bands. Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe has said that helium bought Nirvana’s Nevermind and passed it around, encouraging radical to perceive to it, and that the concern of his set didn’t change. Grunge offered a caller sound, but it wasn’t similar New Coke. It wasn’t replacing different genres.
There besides wasn’t truly immoderate rivalry. Kurt Cobain reportedly bought and loved Too Fast for Love by the Crüe. Alice successful Chains opened for some Poison and Van Halen.
So what truly happened to hairsbreadth rock? Dee Snider of Twisted Sister erstwhile opined that hairsbreadth bands did themselves successful and were already successful diminution by the clip grunge took over. “It became excessively commercialized, and past it got unplugged and [became] thing but powerfulness ballads and acoustic songs, and it wasn’t metallic anymore, it had to go, it had to change,” helium said.
So wherefore did the media represent a grunge takeover? Well, it made for a pat story. But it whitethorn person besides been that hairsbreadth set listeners were simply aging retired of their ‘80s tastes and looking for thing else, which they would person done with oregon without grunge. Cultural tastes alteration constantly. After all, you can’t stone a mullet forever. Unless you clasp retired conscionable agelong capable for them to travel backmost successful style.