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Posted at 11:11 AM ET, 03/26/2010

Friday List: What we'd change in the '80s, if we could travel back in time

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Friday List

In "Hot Tub Time Machine," John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke trek back in time to 1986, where they encounter everything we all remember about that special, curling iron-singed time in American culture. Girls in legwarmers. Guys in "Miami Vice" T-shirts. Young people rocking out to Poison and drinking wine coolers with no sense of irony.

But they also find something else: They have the ability to alter the past, present and future as they know it.

And that brings us to today's Friday list. A few days ago, we pondered what we might do if a hot tub, some alcohol and a high-octane energy drink somehow catapulted us back to the Era of Big Hair. (What? It could happen.) We've come up with some answers, and also included some of your best responses.

Join us now as we explore the ways we could conceivably change the pop cultural universe, if only a goofy guy movie would give us the chance to flash(dance) back to the '80s. (P.S. For those of you seeking a soundtrack for this journey, now would be a good time to cue up "Back in Time" by Huey Lewis and the News.)

If we could go back to the '80s, we would:

Spearhead a letter-writing campaign that would keep "Square Pegs" on the air for another four years.

Upside: John Femia would now be a huge star, with a recurring role on TV's "House."

Downside: It might derail Sarah Jessica Parker's career, as her TV commitment would potentially impact her ability to appear in both "Footloose" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Personally contact every misguided, ill-informed parent who thinks it's okay to take their kids to see "Poltergeist" and tell them that, despite the PG rating, it's really not a good idea to bring along a nine-year-old.

Upside: Thousands of children actually would be able to sleep at night during the summer of 1982 instead of laying petrified in bed while listening to Q107 and praying their beds don't get sucked into another terrifying dimension. (Not that this ever happened to, say, Jen Chaney.)

Downside: Thousands of children might not realize why it's absolutely necessary to fear clown dolls.

Convince a Care Bear and an Ewok to breed. You know, just because we want to see what happens.

Upside: So much cuddliness! And if it works, there are so many other possibilities: hook up Gizmo with Teddy Ruxpin, talk Q-Bert into a blind date with a Smurf...

Downside: The next generation of Endor citizens might wind up with suns, hearts and rainbows on their bellies. Then again, that would only make them slightly more ridiculous. (Another potential downside: More Ewoks.)

Convince Buckner and Garcia that we should join their songwriting team, turning "Pac-Man Fever" into a massive novelty hit for Buckner, Garcia, Chaney and Kelly.

Upside: Dude, we'd be responsible for "Pac-Man Fever!"

Downside: Dude. We'd be responsible for "Pac-Man Fever."

In 1986, two years before a certain pair of songs by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock are released, write a self-help book entitled "It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right: How Happy Couples Can Live Lives Filled With Joy -- Pump It Up, Pump It Up -- and Pain."

Upside: When the rap duo's hits eventually race up the charts, dominate high school dances and, later, become staples at Gen X weddings, we could collect enough royalties to happily retire.

Downside: The book would clearly be stupid. I mean, outrageous. But we'd be too busy dancing to care.

Make sure to be in place at the Capital Centre on May 31, 1986 so we could be featured in Jeff Krulik's documentary time capsule of D.C.-area Judas Priest fans, "Heavy Metal Parking Lot." Were we big Priest fans? No. Would we totally have rocked some Merry-Go-Round-meets-Aquanet ensembles and flashed the heavy metal salute? Hell yes.

Upside: Subtitle of this blog could be amended to "By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney, of 'Heavy Metal Parking Lot' fame.)

Downside: May 31, 1986 was a Saturday night so we totally would have missed "The Facts of Life" and possibly missed out on learning an important, umm, fact of life.

(Thank you, thank you, thank you Hulu.com, for posting the entire 17-minute doc online...)

Strong-arm PMRC activist Tipper Gore into finding another pet cause. Why? Because the censorship giddy Washington wife like totally ruined someone's (okay, maybe Liz's) first concert experience when the Beastie Boys -- on their "Licensed to Ill" tour -- played the Cap Centre in 1987 and were barred from cursing on stage, using their go-go dancers or deploying their giant, inflatable penis prop.

Upside: Censorship-free Beastie Boys and no pesky "parental advisory" stickers on album (yes, album!) covers.

Downside: We may never have seen Twisted Sister's Dee Snider address a Senate hearing and deliver this line: "Mrs. Gore was looking for sadomasochism and bondage and she found it."

And now, some of your best suggestions (so far). By all means, keep 'em coming in the comments on this post.

-- [I] would go back in time & kill the inventor of acid-washed jeans. I would also go back in time & oops, 'cancel' Michael Jackson's appointment with his plastic surgeon. -- blahblah6b


-- I'd also hunt down and break up Spencer Pratt's parents before they consummate their relationship. -- LTL1

-- I wouldn't play Sun City. -- Bawlmer51

-- I would go back and become a casting agent for Disney for the 1993 casting of the Mickey Mouse Show and send young Ms. Britney Spears back to Louisiana. While I admit it would deprive us of some good tabloid fodder, I think the world would be better off. -- RiverCityVA

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | March 26, 2010; 11:11 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  
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Comments

I'd go back in time and convince George Lucas that children love Wookies and Ewoks are stupid. The only downside is that it might rob us of Warwick Davis as Willow 5 years later.


Also, I would put a clause in Speilberg and Lucas' contract that all prints of their movies be kept under my supervision so they can never ruin my childhood memories. Downside: none.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | March 26, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I would choose not to purchase those white moon boots, and I would think better of putting mousse in my permed hair on days that it rained.

Posted by: jelo97 | March 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I would locate the originator of the mullet haircut ("business in the front and party in the back") and convince him or her that mullets will eventually be seen as an embarrassment for humanity. As evidence I would bring pictures of Billy Ray Cyrus circa early 90s as well as my 8th grade year book picture. I would also hope that my convincing argument could eventually spare us the careers of Billy Ray and offspring.

Posted by: kvs09 | March 26, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Although I have lots of 80s fashion and musical regrets, I would not change some of the music, most particularly the blue eyed soul singers/British soul from those heady days. Lisa Stansfield, George Michael, Alison Moyet, Boy George, etc.

Posted by: rbschool | March 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I would go back and marry Michael Jackson! Michael, We Are The World and you are our THRILLER forever!!

Posted by: Pina1 | March 26, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Find a way to keep the McLean Va bowling alley from being torn down and replaced with that generic gray office building...

Posted by: wiredog | March 26, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't change a thing about the 80's. The 80's were totally awesome fer sure!

Posted by: dupont94 | March 26, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if I'd change anything in particular - but I would make my way to NYC to catch SNL with the Phil Hartman/Jan Hooks/John Lovitz cast. That would have been sweet.

Posted by: tomd3 | March 26, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Q107!!

Posted by: sadie8 | March 26, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

... If I could go back to the 80's I'd look myself up and tell me DON'T BE STUPID! DON'T GET MARRIED!. If the 80's me wouldn't listen then the current me would be the heck out of him!

Posted by: rikkirat | March 26, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait - definitely agree on the Poltergeist example. That scared the crap of me at the tender age of 10. (Mind you, I saw it on VHS, but still . . .)

Posted by: tomd3 | March 26, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry - I just laughed like crazy at the Q107 reference. I can't think of anything else because it makes me laugh.

Though if we're talking radio, I might be convinced to tell DC-101 to grow a pair, let Howard Stern apologize for his really, really tasteless Air Florida flight joke and let him retain his job as morning shock-jock. The Greaseman was never as funny as Stern, and it might have lent a different (and less obnoxious) spin on Stern's career.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | March 26, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I would convince Ric Astley to pursue any other career than singing. Then we would not be subjected to RicRolling.

Posted by: epjd | March 26, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I would think twice about buying that lifetime supply of Aqua-net!

Posted by: caroleg1 | March 26, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I would convince Ric Astley to pursue any other career than singing. Then we would not be subjected to RicRolling.

Posted by: epjd

*********************************************

BLASPHEMY!

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | March 26, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd get the 1980s powers-that-be in the US (and throughout the world) to recognize that AIDS is a virus and a PUBLIC HEALTH issue (not just a matter of morality), And I'd beg anyone who wasn't deliberately trying to make a baby to use a condom (or even two at a time, if an STD was known) EVERY SINGLE TIME they fracked.

And yes, I was shouting. Doc Hodie, can please you back me up on this?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Ditto for free public IV needle exchanges (I'm lookin' at YOU, Charlie Rangel).

And I'm not letting HIV virus-denyers Peter Duesberg and Thabo Mbeki off the hook, either, for countless deaths caused by their prideful stubbornness/ignorance.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'd get the 1980s powers-that-be in the US (and throughout the world) to recognize that AIDS is a virus and a PUBLIC HEALTH issue (not just a matter of morality), And I'd beg anyone who wasn't deliberately trying to make a baby to use a condom (or even two at a time, if an STD was known) EVERY SINGLE TIME they fracked.

And yes, I was shouting. Doc Hodie, can please you back me up on this?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

And I would nominate Nosy for a Nobel Peace Prize for stopping a worldwide tragedy.

Posted by: hodie2 | March 26, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Seriously though, Nosy is right and it took the world far too long to understand AIDS is not deserved by anyone no matter how they contracted it. Some places in the world still need to learn that lesson.

Posted by: hodie2 | March 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

(blush)

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

None of all of this stuff would have happened if a movie actor was thought highly enough to have been elected President of the United States.

Posted by: bs2004 | March 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Think of all the celebrities we lost to this scourge, too. Rock Hudson, Miles Davis, designer Perry Ellis, Tom Fogarty (of CCR). I'm sure other Lizards can come up with plenty more...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I would tell Van Halen to stick with David Lee Roth.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 26, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Where to begin? I would not get that spiral perm. I would not waste money on tickets to see Frankie Goes to Hollywood in concert. I would not wear high heeled pumps with tight jeans and silk blouses. I would skip the turquoise eyeshadow and legwarmers.

I would still buy those tickets to see Madonna on her Like a Virgin tour, though. That was before she took herself so seriously as an Artist. She was having a blast, and so was everyone in the audience.
But I'd probably reconsider the fashion tips I picked up at that concert.

I'm older than Jen and Liz, which means I was a teenager when I saw Poltergeist, and it still scared the bejeezus out of me. Especially the tree reaching in the window to grab the child. Yikes.

Posted by: newengland1 | March 26, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I would have my stylist at the Unisex Salon talk me out of that Flock of Seagulls haircut. It took sooooooooooo long to grow out, and I've been unable to destroy all of the photo evidence.

Posted by: kbockl | March 26, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The big thing I would change about the 80s is that I would see to it the Ronald Reagan got his old job back on TV, thus saving us from a Nancy Reagan presidency.

As ewver,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | March 26, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ditto for free public IV needle exchanges (I'm lookin' at YOU, Charlie Rangel).

And I'm not letting HIV virus-denyers Peter Duesberg and Thabo Mbeki off the hook, either, for countless deaths caused by their prideful stubbornness/ignorance.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker

_______________

Yeesh, thanks for the contributions, buzzkill. This is Celebritology, not the AMA. It says to comment on how you would change the "pop cultural universe." Chill.

Posted by: Gnillew9 | March 26, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mudge, Good ta see ya here again! Missed you around the Tiki Bar lately (though occasionally spot your trenchant wit on Post political blog comments). Hope all's well at Chez Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Gnillew9, All those AIDS cases sure changed the pop culture of the '80s (and '90s) by taking so many luminaries for the celeb firmament prematurely. Chill your own dang self!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Should read, FROM the celeb firmament (ack!)

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I had to laugh out loud at this one. I remember seeing Poltergeist in the movie theatre on my first visit to the Washington area - I'd traveled with my stepmother and younger brother/sister to visit with some of her family. After that summer's visit my clown doll went into a BOX!

Posted by: DCtoBalto | March 26, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

DCtoBalto (and others), isn't there a TV commercial lately which shows a family out on their porch, terrified by a doll that's been delivered to their house?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Take 2: DCtoBalto (and others), isn't there a TV commercial lately that shows a family out on their porch, terrified by a CLOWN doll that's been delivered to their house?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I would get hold of John McNamara before Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and tell him to be sure to remove Bill Buckner for defensive purposes before the 9th inning.

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I would fire Ronald Reagan. Ugh, what a terrible president!

Posted by: MarylandJ | March 26, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

justmike, I understand your pain. But as Mike Royko observed, Buckner was cursed with Cub-ness. You'd need to go back further, so that Bill never played for the Wrigley Fielders.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, I think that commercial is for the US Postal Service. They can send the scary clown doll back using priority mail, Monday-Friday.

Some other things about the 80s: if I had the chance to go back, I might pay more attention to the news about what the USSR was doing in Afghanistan.

I'd find a way to warn Mike Dukakis against getting in that tank.

I'd see more movies with Michael J. Fox, fewer movies with Tom Cruise, and skip altogether movies starring Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart? Ugh).

Posted by: newengland1 | March 26, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Billy B was very good when he was a Cubbie; the team was just no good. He was washed up, mostly due to injury, by '86 tho. And, by the way, Angel Heart rocked!

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

David Bowie: More Let's Dance, less Tin Machine. And freeze Kraftwerk, so they can be re-animated 20 years later.

Posted by: jimward21 | March 26, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

newengland1, you're right! That ad is for the USPS. (Maybe I should've started taking memory pills back in the '80s).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

justmike, the Cubs were so pathetic that even the sublime Ernie ("Let's play two!") Banks couldn't get them to the World Series.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Very true. Actually it wasn't that I was a big Red Sox fan in particular; I just always felt sorry for Buckner. Anyway, now that I think about it more, if I could do one thing to change the culture of the 80's, I would go to December 8, 1980 and find that little weasel Mark David Chapman skulking around the Dakota, and TAKE HIM OUT. (I am now and was then 6'7" and an Army vet.)

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

justmike, agreed re Buckner. Likewise to save Lennon.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 26, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

FYI, 2 condoms actually makes them more likely to break. Just saying.


I would remove about half the cocaine from the ofices of record labels. Not all of it as what's music without some coke, but at least enough to get them close enough to eath to realize that synthesizers are not a replacement for actual music.

Posted by: EricS2 | March 26, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Justmike, I like the way you think. However, BF Dent would still exist. Dammit.

Jimward, would Kraftwerk be an 80s group? I recall hearing their music in the late 70s. I would say that Kraftwerk taught Depeche Mode everything they know, but some of you wouldn't like that.

If I were to return to the middle-late 1980s, I would advise one Thomas Mapother IV to stay away from one Miriam Spickler.

And I'd still shove that multi-colored cube up Rubik's butt.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think we can all agree on one thing. Owning a Hot Tub Time Machine would be AWESOME! Can I get one on Amazon?

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I guess I wasn't clear. What I should have said was: Get a sense of humor. You are the only person on here who treats Celebritology like some kind of discussion forum for your weird issues. You're always asking medical opinions of people or mentioning the fact that everyone should know that an obscure "celebrity" from the 40s has died in the last month.

Posted by: Gnillew9 | March 26, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

And I'd still shove that multi-colored cube up Rubik's butt.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 26, 2010 4:15 PM
____________________

You ain't seen these yet:

http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=cube+11x11x11&CatId=0

Posted by: bs2004 | March 26, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I think we can all agree on one thing. Owning a Hot Tub Time Machine would be AWESOME! Can I get one on Amazon?

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 4:23 PM

------------------------------------------
I hear that Liz is holding out for Steve Jobs to come out with Apple's ultra cool looking Hot Tub Time Machine.

As for me, I prefer this Hot Tub model:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/97800/saturday-night-live-james-browns-celebrity-hot-tub-party

Hmmmm....maybe take the Hot Tub back to the mid 80s and tell Steve Jobs move on from Next to the next big thing.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
You ain't seen these yet:

http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=cube+11x11x11&CatId=0

Posted by: bs2004 | March 26, 2010 4:43 PM
-------------------------------------------

Aye carumba! I KNEW I should have gone back in time and told Rubik to take that cube and shove it! Now we have 3D Son of Cube. Where will it end???

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 26, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Eddie Murphy in the hot tub- "too hot!" He needs his own HTTM so he can go back and tell his younger self to avoid all the crappy movies he's been making lately.

Posted by: justmike | March 26, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I would make sure that bands like EU, Trouble Funk, et al. got over the hump and DC go-go became The Next Big Thing it should have become.

Upside: Everyone dances nonstop for hours.

Downside: Music eventually becomes too commercialized; Rick Astley dabbles in it; and Chuck Brown is taken away entirely too early, having suffered an apoplectic stroke.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | March 26, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

A lifetime moratorium on anything other than music on MTV, so it could be what it used to be back when it began ... Music Television.

Prevent plastic surgery from being used for any other purpose besides that for which it was originally intended; i.e., no elective/recreational use.

Posted by: Californian11 | March 26, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd have sex with Traci. She found me on Facebook a few weeks ago and said that she TOTALLY would have done it with me.

Posted by: Regis09 | March 26, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

. . . posting late, and someone beat me to it, but bears repeating:

Take out Mark David Chapman

Save John Lennon
Sigh

Posted by: talitha1 | March 26, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Take out Ronnie Rayguns and Margaret (Iron Maiden) Thatcher for what they've done to the world.

Posted by: ScottFromOz | March 26, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I certainly agree with what a lot of folks are saying about public health positions in the 80s, and I completely agree with these ideas. But there are a thousand serious and worthwhile things we could and should fix if we time-traveled, and we could discuss them all night. Let's try to keep it light and silly.

Have I said that I would buy an original copy of "Duck Hunt"? Because I would.

Most vitally: I would go to Wesleyan University in the spring of 1986 and offer a young Michael Bay a free ride in an English Literature graduate program, ensuring him a strong future AWAY from the camera.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 26, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

wow...I hadn't quite remembered how much this time period sucked...thx for reminding me.

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Posted by: linlinmeihua | March 28, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Have to disagree on Square Pegs. Watched the first few episodes on Hulu a couple of weeks ago while sick in bed and it was just painful.

Totally agree on the Poltergeist thing. Watched it at a slumber party in 4th(?) grade and was freaked out for the longest time. My parents would have been very upset if they'd known I'd seen it.

And I've been wondering--in all the 80s teen movies, the rich/popular guys always wore blazers. Was this really the case at anyone's high school?

Posted by: MPAmom | March 28, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

My husband is one of the people in Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Seriously, he and my Brother In Law.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | March 29, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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