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"Margaret Thatcher (1979) and Ronald Reagan (1980) came to power ending the Trente Glorieuses. Major civil discontent and violence occurred in the Middle East, including the Iran–Iraq War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Bombing of Libya in 1986, and the First Intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Islamism became a powerful political force in the 1980s and many terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda started."--Sholem Stein

Another lonely night, another lonely night
Stare at the TV screen, stare at the TV screen
I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do
I need a rendezvous, I need a rendezvous

--"Computer Love" (1981) by Kraftwerk

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The 1980s refers to the period of and between 1980 and 1989. In the United Kingdom particularly, this decade is often referred to as "the Me decade" and "the Greed decade", reflecting the economic and social climate. In the United States and UK, "yuppie" entered the lexicon, referring to the well-publicized rise of a new middle class within the upper economic strata. College graduates in their late 20s/30s were entering the workplace in prestigious office professions, holding more purchasing power in trendy, luxurious goods.

The Autumn of Nations led towards the withdrawal of Soviet troops at the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghan War, fall of the Berlin Wall, the Revolutions of 1989 and the end of Cold War. The era was characterized by the blend of conservative family values alongside a period of increased telecommunications, shift towards liberal market economies and the new openness of perestroika and glasnost. This transitional passage also saw massive democratic revolutions such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, the Czechoslovak velvet revolution, and the overthrow of the dictatorial regime in Romania and other communist Warsaw Pact states in Central and Eastern Europe. These changes continued to be felt in the 1990s and on into the 21st century.

The 1980s was also an era of tremendous population growth around the world, comparable only to the 1970s or 1990s to being among the largest in human history. This growth occurred not only in developing regions but also developed western nations, where many newborns were the offspring of the largely populated baby boomers.



Popular culture

The most prominent events and trends in popular culture of the decade include:


With releases such as Computer World (1981) by Kraftwerk, the decade saw the emergence of new wave, electronic music (e.g., synthpop) the use of the synthesizer, and the introduction of hip hop and sampling.

The decade began with a backlash against disco music and a movement away from the orchestral arrangements that had characterized much of the music of the 1970s. Music in the 1980s was characterized by electronic sounds accomplished through the use of synthesizers and keyboards, along with drum machines. The music channel MTV began the trend of the music video. The first video to be aired on MTV was Buggles's "Video Killed The Radio Star".

The 1980s saw two new developments, the demise of disco the rise of electronic dance music.

By the late 1970s many major US cities had thriving disco club scenes which were centered around discothèques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the dancers. Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music.

The largest world cities like New York (Paradise Garage, The Loft), Manchester (The Haçienda), Paris (Les Bains Douches), Ibiza (Pacha), Antwerp (Ancienne Belgique) played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife.

New genres included new wave, synth-pop, hip hop, house, acid house, techno, rave, freestyle, electro, eurodisco, italo disco, hi-nrg, balearic, jazz-funk, post-disco, northern soul and 80s groove

From the Jahsonic 1000

1980#Singles, 1981#Singles, 1982#Singles, 1983#Singles, 1984#Singles, 1985#Singles, 1986#Singles, 1987#Singles, 1988#Singles, 1989#Singles



1980#Film, 1981#Film, 1982#Film, 1983#Film, 1984#Film, 1985#Film, 1986#Film, 1987#Film, 1988#Film, 1989#Film

During the 1980s, audiences began increasingly watching films on their home VCRs. In the early part of that decade, the film studios tried legal action to ban home ownership of VCRs as a violation of copyright, which proved unsuccessful. Eventually, the sale and rental of films on home video became a significant "second venue" for exhibition of films, and an additional source of revenue for the film industries. Direct-to-video (niche) markets usually offered lower quality, cheap productions that were not deemed very suitable for the general audiences of television and theatrical releases.

The LucasSpielberg combine would dominate "Hollywood" cinema for much of the 1980s, and lead to much imitation. Two follow-ups to Star Wars, three to Jaws, and three Indiana Jones films helped to make sequels of successful films more of an expectation than ever before. Lucas also launched THX Ltd, a division of Lucasfilm in 1982, while Spielberg enjoyed one of the decade's greatest successes in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial the same year. 1982 also saw the release of Disney's Tron which was one of the first films from a major studio to use computer graphics extensively. American independent cinema struggled more during the decade, although Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980), After Hours (1985), and The King of Comedy (1983) helped to establish him as one of the most critically acclaimed American film makers of the era. Also during 1983 Scarface was released, which was very profitable and resulted in even greater fame for its leading actor Al Pacino. Probably the most successful film commercially was Tim Burton's 1989 version of Bob Kane's creation, Batman, which broke box-office records. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the demented Joker earned him a total of $60,000,000 after figuring in his percentage of the gross.

British cinema was given a boost during the early 1980s by the arrival of David Puttnam's company Goldcrest Films. The films Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, The Killing Fields and A Room with a View appealed to a "middlebrow" audience which was increasingly being ignored by the major Hollywood studios. While the films of the 1970s had helped to define modern blockbuster motion pictures, the way "Hollywood" released its films would now change. Films, for the most part, would premiere in a wider number of theatres, although, to this day, some films still premiere using the route of the limited/roadshow release system. Against some expectations, the rise of the multiplex cinema did not allow less mainstream films to be shown, but simply allowed the major blockbusters to be given an even greater number of screenings. However, films that had been overlooked in cinemas were increasingly being given a second chance on home video.

During the 1980s, Japanese cinema experienced a revival, largely due to the success of anime films. The most famous anime film of this decade was Katsuhiro Otomo's cyberpunk film Akira (1988), which although initially unsuccessful at Japanese theaters, went on to become an international success.

Hong Kong action cinema, which was in a state of decline due to endless Bruceploitation films after the death of Bruce Lee, also experienced a revival in the 1980s, largely due to the reinvention of the action film genre by Jackie Chan. He had previously combined the comedy film and martial arts film genres successfully in the 1978 films Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master.


MTV was launched in the United States in 1981 and Teletext was introduced.

The 1980s was the decade of transformation in television. Cable television became more accessible and therefore, more popular. By the middle of the decade, almost 70% of the American population had cable television and over 85% were paying for cable services such as HBO or Showtime.

The 1980s was also the period of glory for primetime soap operas such as Dallas and Dynasty.

The popular animated sitcom The Simpsons debuted in 1989. There were also the TV talk shows that were increasing in popularity and some of the most viewed were the ones hosted by Geraldo Rivera or David Letterman.

Video gaming

The 1980s starts the age of the video game. Popular video games include Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. Handheld Game Boy introduced into the youth market segment.


  • The kitsch of the 1970s, while itself rejected, influenced the fashion of the 1980s – in the beginning of the decade marked by the New Romantic movement and later by fashion inspired by heavy metal bands, including teased hair, ripped jeans and neon clothing.

Significant fashion trends of the 1980s include:


  • BMX bicycles gained popularity amongst the youth in the early 1980s.
  • The Yo-yo gained popularity amongst the youth in the beginning of the decade as well.
  • Fast food chain restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King experienced a strong increase circulation.
  • Rubik's cube became a popular fad throughout the decade.


1980 in literature
1981 in literature
1982 in literature
1983 in literature
1984 in literature
1985 in literature
1986 in literature
1987 in literature
1988 in literature
non fiction
1989 in literature

Visual arts

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "1980s" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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