Did the guys who came up with this series actually remember the 80’s? No, because they were born in 1984. So, when you watch this series you are getting a version of the 80’s that never really existed. One in which ‘alternative’ music was listened to by everybody and played at school dances. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I was a teen in the 80’s that graduated high school in 1989 and who listened to a bunch of ‘alternative’ type music back then. You have to understand that in the 80’s the term had a different meaning than it did in the 90’s. In the 80’s alternative music was anything that wasn’t played on the mainstream pop stations. That covered everything from New Wave, to what would become Goth, Ska bands, etc….Punk was sort of under the same umbrella, but standing a bit to the side. It was connected but considered more ‘out there’ by a lot of people. So, alternative music in the 80’s was considered to be too strange to listen to by most people because only weirdos, who didn’t dress like them, liked it. In the early 90’s the record execs knew this and decided to call the Seattle ‘grunge’ bands ‘alternative’ so that they seemed more rebellious. Yep, Nirvana, and all of those bands, were sold as pre-packaged rebellion and all of the pop music lovers fell for it.
So now that I have laid out what things were actually like musically back then let’s get to the issue at hand, how Stranger Things gets all of this very, very wrong. The older brother character, I can’t bother to look up the name, talks about Joy Division, and yet he goes to a party and doesn’t know that a chick is dressed up like Siouxsie? Um….nope. Joy Division was a very underground band during the 80’s, one of those that you only learned about through other people. Their music was not played on mainstream stations, at dances or anywhere actually. The only place I ever heard them, outside of my own stereo, was at alternative clubs. That’s it. However, Siouxsie & The Banshees were more well known and they even got played on the mainstream stations once in a while. So, if you were any kind of weirdo in the 80’s you would have known who Siouxsie was, but there was a good chance that you may not have heard of Joy Division. Joy Division only got super huge when all of the hipsters started liking them to seem cool about 20 years ago.
Please don’t think I am against teens learning about 80’s music and enjoying it. My issue is that these kids are thinking how cool it must have been back in the 80’s to have been a weirdo. It was never cool in the 80’s, through to most of the 90’s, to be considered ‘weird’. If you didn’t want to conform you got shit on by just about everybody for not fitting in. I remember people in high school asking me why I wanted to look like a vampire. Having seen the 30th reunion photos they all look about twenty years older than me, so who is laughing now bitches? Alternative music would never be played at school dances because a lot of people thought only weirdos listened to it, and who would want to be one of those freaks?
In conclusion, alternative music was not mainstream popular in the 80’s and to say otherwise is rewriting history. All of this could have been avoided if the writers had actually done some research instead of putting out a version of the 80’s that never existed.