Sunday, 2 September 2012

Who shot JR?

I was a 70s/early 80s child. And as such I clearly remember how shit the 80s was. From the clothes (hideous), most of the mainstream music (woeful), hairstyles (seriously seriously bad), the entertainment choices (three channels until 1982. Three), food (Findus Crispy Pancakes and luminous gloopy Angel Delight) to the politics, foreign policy and ever present threat of nuclear war and abject poverty (unless you were a rich bastard).

There was nothing glamourous about the decade, and very little to celebrate. Money talked, bullshit walked. People wanted more and more stuff and, in a predominantly white, middle class suburban upbringing like mine, general attitudes were flaccid to say the least.

I didn't really understand most of what I saw and heard on the news but I clearly remember the Falklands, Chernobyl, bombings in Birmingham, Gerry Adams with a constant voiceover, Margaret Thatcher all over the place, plastic Princess Di marrying her prince (even as a six year old I could see that had disaster written all over it), terrible haircuts (flat-tops,rat's tails, mullets and massive, massive perms - and yes I've already mentioned the hair but it's so awful it warrants more emphasis), everything was neon, Ronald Reagan talking about Star Wars on the radio (very confusing to a youngster)...

As a proper child of the 80s, the TV frames a lot of my memories of childhood. Before videos were available and when computer games were confined to a really, really arduous typing adventures like The Hobbit, the TV was our natural friend.

Kids' stuff was a lot weirder than today but pretty good - The Flumps, Rentaghost, Blue Peter, Grange Hill back when real shit happened, Marmalade Atkins...

My memories of proper telly are fuzzier, but there were a lot of really bad American soap operas. If you didn't fancy Dynasty there was Dallas or Falcon Crest or Melrose Place. Hours and hours of massive haired, massive shoulder padded, over made-up old hags cackling and screaming at each other, getting drunk and crying a lot.

And because there were only four channels by the mid-80s TV was an event that it would be almost impossible for youngsters today to comprehend. You know how everyone got really excited because everyone collectively seemed to be watching the Olympics? It was like that all the time. Even if all you were watching was Coronation Street.

The year Dallas ended on a cliffhanger, the question of who shot JR was genuinely on everyone's lips. Even my parents who appeared to only watch things like Dallas in a detached, ironic way - a manner I was careful to quickly cultivate even if I really, really liked something. Dallas was something you didn't like like, but you had to be able to talk knowledgeably - and preferably disparagingly, even at the age of six, about it so as not to lose face in the playground.

But if Dallas was done today it would get lost among the mire of utter shiteous tosswank that passes for 80% of TV. Wouldn't it? We have a gazillion channels showing aeons of terrible series that seem to be churned out endlessly for some reason, presumably to make money for someone somewhere. There are so many awful American soap operas that Dallas would never survive now. Right? RIGHT?


Somewhere along the line it became very 'now' to spend cash on remakes, reboots and re-imaginings. I mean, how many Spiderman reboots does the world need? I mean, REALLY? Ditto Superman, Miami Vice, Total Recall, Blade Runner and all the others that are getting CGId into oblivion.

Which brings me to my point. Kind of. Dallas is back. Someone thought that resurrecting Dallas was a good idea. Luckily (sort of) some of the original cast are still alive and, even more luckily (sort of) most of them haven't worked since it came off the air the first time. It's 2012 and Larry Hagman is still being paid to be JR. There is something very, very wrong with this picture.

What's happening? Total Recall on at the cinema, Dallas on the TV, high tops and asymmetric haircuts everywhere, Tory government systematically destroying the NHS, Republicans likely to be in at the White House before long. I've done all this once already.

We were meant to be on fricking hoverboards by now. If someone told me when I was six that fast-forwarding to 2012 would reveal a world fundamentally, culturally and politically unchanged I would have been, well, quietly disappointed and very middle class about it all.

Much like now.

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