I went to a shopping mall yesterday. I grew up on Long Island, so malls (pronounced mawls) are in my blood. To my surprise, the mannequins in the store windows were dressed in neon colors and Flashdance-style silhouettes. If Tiffany were singing "I Think We're Alone Now" near the food court, I would have thought I had been transported back to the 1980s. When these wild fashion trends were new, I thought the clothes were "gnarly" and "rad." But now, 30 years later, I just find them loud and tacky.
Clothes are not the only obnoxious items from the '80s making a comeback. Kirk Cameron, '80s child star from Growing Pains, was all over the place this week as his anti-gay opinions were played over and over again on TV and the Internet. He believes that homosexuality is "unnatural" and that "it's detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." In the promo for his new documentary, Monumental, he warns that "something is sick in the soul of our country ... we're headed for disaster if we don't change our course now." I get a growing pain every time I hear this man talk. When did this '80s sitcom star become so judgmental?
Even nuttier is '80s Saturday Night Live comedienne Victoria Jackson. Back in the day, she was cute and really funny. Now she is shrill and really offensive. She seems to hate Muslims and is not too fond of the gays, either. When Kurt kissed Blaine on Glee, she found it "sickening." I would call her homophobic, but she thinks that word is a "cute little buzzword of the liberal agenda." I do not want to associate anything cute with her ever again.
Remember Chuck Woolery, '80s host of the Love Connection? He popped up out of nowhere a few months ago when he stated that gays and African Americans "don't need civil rights" or legal protections against discrimination. Apparently, being the host of a cancelled heterosexual game show qualifies him to make statements like these.
This trifecta of intolerance -- Kirk Cameron, Victoria Jackson, and Chuck Woolery -- have opinions that are as outdated as their careers. I find it interesting that none of them are entertainers anymore. They have made brief pop culture comebacks by voicing their ignorant opinions in public forums. If I liked them better, I would feel sorry for them. Their grabs at attention seem so desperate.
Luckily, not every '80s icon is unwelcome. Judith Light, from the '80s sitcom Who's the Boss?, was the toast of Broadway last season and was nominated for a Tony Award. Cyndi Lauper is still having fun, touring the world and working on writing a new musical headed for Broadway. Madonna performed admirably at the Super Bowl this year, has a hit single, and is also launching a world tour. These three women continue to have careers that are going strong. And their support of the gay community and for gay rights has been steady and strong since the 1980s. Coincidence?
My trip back to the 1980s was complete when I saw Stephen Baldwin on TV this week defending Kirk Cameron and his anti-gay opinions in a debate. Now, it is true that Stephen Baldwin first appeared in movies like The Usual Suspects in the '90s, not the '80s. However, I think of Stephen Baldwin as a guy from the 1980s because I actually knew him then, when we were both in high school on Long Island. I remember him as a goofy, talented, laid-back guy. We had many mutual friends that were gay. I have not seen or spoken to him in over 30 years, but I find it personally disappointing to hear his views on homosexuality today. He has gone on record to say that homosexuality is not normal and that he opposes gay marriage. He admits that he still has gay friends, but his public pronouncements against homosexuality are not all that friendly.
Cowabunga! The '80s are back. It's like totally tubular. Yeah, right... as if!