The Eighties Revival And Idiot Boots

Say hello to the smooth dazzling veneer of the retro future 1980’s.  Electro pop acts are at the top of the charts and leggings are OK to wear in public.  Shocking.

If you thought leggings were a bad 80’s fad to bring back, wait till you see people wearing these shoes. With fashions such as this I’m always left asking; What did they think they were going to look like? Whatever the actual answer to this all the wearers manage is turning out like someone whose just mugged a cockney chimney sweep for their shoes; it’s a bizarre look.

Having said that, maybe they are a sign that the fad for 1980’s revivalism is out of steam. Certainly I don’t remember Cindi Lauper going for the “I’ve just undertaken a footwear based violent crime against the person of Dick Van Dyck” look. Seems more late Victorian/ Early Edwardian revivalism to me but there you go.  I was 6 in 1990, so maybe I just don’t remember it.

On the other hand, there is an 80’s fad undergoing a real renaissance as I write. Namely the fad for electing Tory governments hell bent on making the poor pay for, well, being poor. Cameron’s five per cent pay cut, taken to show he is feeling the people’s pain, looks a bit silly in the face of the thirty million quid his dad left him in a trust fund. Meanwhile, every pathetic ounce of pseudo-progress the labour party didn’t renege on is being consigned to the past; the end of working families tax credits, the end of building programmes in the poorest schools and a twenty five percent cut to the arts. Nuclear weapons and various other such masturbatory aids for back bench Tories will be safe though.

Even under Thatcher, when brutal cuts to the Arts and the public sector were made the theory was that the money the government saved would be spent getting private companies to provide allegedly more efficient services. For instance, the famously efficient train services we all know and love. But now, not even this is the case.

Instead we are basically left in a situation where the Arts (as well as youth and social services, extra medical health care and so on) will be provided by charity instead of the government. From now on we should be thankful to the rich for the “charity” they give, rather than demanding that as the production of wealth is a social activity, so should its distribution be.

We are hearing a lot about recession at the minute and the cuts we “have” to make, but some people are doing very well. Whilst the gap between the richest and the poorest in this country is bigger than at any point since the second world war, there are as many domestic labourers (servants) in this country per head as in the late nineteenth century and then some.

I was thinking about this on the train home from the ITC today when some fool’s phone rang, blazing that god forsaken “I want to be a billionaire song”. At that prompting I realised the 80’s revival must be still going on, just not in the way we were told it was. Massive gap between rich and poor, unthinking worship of vulgar excess, the dismantling of the welfare state, redistribution of wealth through charity rather than progressive taxation, no art for the proles and stupid chimney sweep boots?

Say hello to the smooth dazzling veneer of the 1880’s, baby.

One thought on “The Eighties Revival And Idiot Boots

  1. Two things…

    The notion of an eighties revival seems strange on one level because I remember the early 80’s being described as a sixties revival. The big political movement was CND which (in my area at least) contained a large minority of self described ‘ageing hippies’ reliving the ‘peace love and understanding’ thing from two decades earlier – I even remember a woman handing me a daffodil in Hyde Park! Culturally ‘The Young Ones’ was big on television – a sit-com about four dysfunctional students sharing a house, the lead role taken by Neil the hippie (Nigel Planer). In character Planer even had a top five hit with ‘Hole in my Shoe’ a sixties classic by, if I remember rightly Traffic. The video for this remake was shot at Glastonbury Festival in the days before it had fully sold out to commercialism.

    One topical thing linking the 80’s to today is student funding. The late eighties saw the introduction of student loans and rioting on Westminster Bridge. We knew then that loans were just the beginning; they would eclipse and lead to the phasing out of grants and then fees would be introduced; and now we have the advent of unlimited fees, the end point of the process began in the 80’s. It wasn’t suppose to be like this though, members of the Labour Club at my University assured everyone that as long as we elected a Labour Government loans would be abolished. Not only was that a lie but Labour continued the offensive by abolishing grants and introducing fees. I’m still bitter about that and wish that one day I could meet one of those Labour Club members and remind them of their folly.

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