March 7, 2014

Irreverence in advertising from the 1980s

More detail on the love of all things paradoxical, incongruous, irreverent, and off-beat during the '80s. Note the lack of super-extreme-in-your-face wackiness. All it takes is a single juxtaposition of humorously clashing elements. Gary Larson or Steven Wright could have had a hand in designing these ads.

Over-the-top ads show up more during cocooning times, when people are so avoidant and unresponsive that they need to be whomped over the head with camp in order to get a laugh out of them. In outgoing times, folks are already awake and primed to respond.


  1. i agree with you on the differences with the cocooning times we live in today verse the outgoing 1980s. People were primed in the 80s to respond with less need to be whacked over the head with camp.

    One reason for this, the baby-boomers and Gen X were mostly American born , raised by American born parents. If they had foreign born grandparents they were born in Europe, thus were culturally western.

    after reaching an all time low in 1970, immigration stated increase. It was different from the wave of immigrants who previously came to America, no longer dominated by Europeans, the new wave of immigrants was from non-western nations.

    Thus the typical Baby-boomer, and Gen-X person had much more in common, thus cultural references were easy to understand, like in the advertisements shown.
    20% of Millennials were not born in America, compared to 5% of Baby-boomers and 10% of Gen X.

    this massive immigration from non-western nations has caused fragmentation, distrust and a lack of cultural cohesion resulting in more cocooning and lower crime. Immigration since the 60s has come from the less trusting nations, verse the western nations which are more outgoing.

    I married a South American , she immigrated to America in 1994 when she was 24. She still lacks cultural understanding with Americans after living here for 20 years, although she completed her college education at NYU, she will never have the ability to understand the cultural references from the 80s or earlier, although she grew up listing to Madonna and Cindi Lauper in the 80s and watched all the same movies i did growing up.

    growing up in Chile, she is much less trusting of strangers, neighbors or institutions. i see the same outlook among our immigrant friends from India, China, Mexico and Russia. Unless immigration slows, our cocooning times will be extended for another generation. The current wave of immigrants are less social, less western and more tribal or clannish. it is easier now to avoid assimilating into american culture, thus the American culture which persisted for almost 300 years will vanish, just as the Aztec culture was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors.

  2. People are irreverent today, but unintentionally. Remember all those pictures of people taking selfies at funerals?

    It is like how you described the difference between deliberately breaking the rules, in a strategic way, vs. being an oblivious sperg.

  3. "this massive immigration from non-western nations has caused fragmentation, distrust and a lack of cultural cohesion resulting in more cocooning and lower crime."

    Yeah, our situation is way worse than the '40s and '50s, since they at least had less and less status-striving and falling inequality. We are more like the Gilded Age -- Victorian social phobia combined with mass alienation due to the flood of foreigners.

    Maybe when some of those lawn maintenance guys start assassinating our Presidents and lobbing bombs on Wall Street, the elites will start to second-guess this whole "Give us your poor huddled masses" thing.

  4. the immigration prior to the late 60's was also mostly from Europe. since the 80s is has been mostly non-european. This causes dramatic differences, especially now that assimilating is no longer encouraged.


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