What happened in 1986?

In 1986, the world was a different place.

There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. Or Stumbleupon, for that matter.

In 1986, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Top Gun. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.

Do you know who won the Oscars that year? The academy award for the best movie went to Platoon. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to The Assault. The top actor was Paul Newman for his role as Fast Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. The top actress was Marlee Matlin for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God. The best director? Oliver Stone for Platoon.

In the year 1986, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was It by Stephen King. Oh, that’s many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it? Look at the cover!

In 1986… Spain and Portugal enter the European Community, which later becomes the European Union. The Province of Flevoland is established in the Netherlands. The United Kingdom and France announce plans to construct the Channel Tunnel. The first PC virus, Brain, starts to spread. The first federal Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., is observed. The Voyager 2 space probe makes its first encounter with Uranus. The Today national tabloid newspaper is launched in the United Kingdom, pioneering the use of computer photosetting and full-colour offset printing, at a time when British national newspapers still use Linotype machines and letterpress. A treaty ends the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly. American college basketball player Len Bias suffers a fatal cardiac arrhythmia from a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours after being selected 2nd overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft. Greg LeMond wins the Tour de France. The cargo ship Khian Sea departs from the docks of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, carrying 14,000 tons of toxic waste. It wanders the seas for the next 16 months trying to find a place to dump its cargo. Average per capita income in Japan exceeds that in the USA. Australian singer John Farnham releases the album Whispering Jack, which becomes the highest selling album in Australia’s history. The video game of the day was Arkanoid.

That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.

The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Wole Soyinka. The Nobel Peace prize went to Elie Wiesel. The Nobel prize for physics went to Ernst Ruska from West Germany for his fundamental work in electron optics, and for the design of the first electron microscope. The sensation this created was big. But it didn’t stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn’t it?

The 1980s were indeed a special decade. The Soviet-Afghan war goes on. Eastern Europe sees the collapse of communism. Policies like Perestroika and Glasnost in the Soviet Union lead to a wave of reforms. Protests are crushed down on Tiananmen Square in China. Ethiopa witnesses widespread famine. Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown. The AIDS pandemic begins. The role of women in the workplace increased greatly. MTV is launched in the US. There is opposition against Apartheid in South Africa as well as worldwide. Heavy Metal and Hard Rock bands are extremely popular. The rise of Techno music begins. Originally primarily played on campus radio stations, College Rock enters the scene with bands like the Pixies, REM and Sonic Youth. The Hip Hop scene continues to evolve. Teletext is introduced. Gay rights become more widely accepted in the world. Opposition to nuclear power plants grows. The A-Team and Seinfeld are popular on TV. US basketball player Michael Jordan bursts on the scene. Super Mario Bros, Zelda’s Link, and Pac-Man gain fame in video games. People wear leggings, shoulder pads and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Do you know what was on the cover of Life that year?

Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15? Pearl Harbor. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Fallin’ by Alicia Keys. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?

In 1986, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song Rock Me Amadeus by Falco topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.

Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, oh oh oh Amadeus
Er war Superstar
Er war populär
Er war so exaltiert
Because er hatte Flair
Er war ein Virtuose
War ein Rockidol
Und alles rief:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

There’s a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn’t care about time. It doesn’t know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.

When you were 9, the movie The City of Lost Children was playing. When you were 8, there was The Next Karate Kid. When you were 7, there was a Disney movie out called The Lion King. Does this ring a bell?

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… it’s 1986. There’s TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV is The Real Ghostbusters. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There’s The Hogan Family on now. That’s the world you were born in.

Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1986.

No no no, 1986 there’s Roos on my feet
I’m riding in the back seat
Staring at the back of my momma’s head
I’m daydreaming my day away

That’s from the song 1986 by Discover America.

In 1986, a new character entered the world of comic books: The Tick. Bang! Boom! But that’s just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1986, Amanda Bynes was born. And Lindsay Lohan. Charlotte Church, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
It’s 2011.

The world is a different place.

What path have you taken?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.