Pop Culture Battle: Boomers vs. Millennials

Don’t worry, this won’t be a blog about which generation is better, or any of that other nonsense you probably see online way too often. Instead, this is a fun one! As a Boomer myself (anyone born 1946-1964), I thought this was an interesting list of the Top 10 Pop Culture Moments of the 1980s, when my generation was in high school, college, and post-graduate life! As Boomers, most of us have millennial children, so this blog should ignite some memories – it did for me.

10. The Reagan Revolution: Ronald Reagan was elected for the first of two terms in 1980, shaping the decade with his Reaganomics policies. I remember him coming to the University of Nevada Reno’s (UNR) campus for a speech. Everyone was excited to see the President speak. I still remember how Jelly Belly’s were his favorite candy because they were mine too!

9. The World Mourns John Lennon: A deranged fan shot the former Beatle outside his New York City home in 1980. As an 18-year-old at the time, I remember clearly how tragic and unnecessary that moment was.

John Lennon (USA Today)

8. Royal Wedding Extravaganza: Lady Di and Prince Charles were wed in 1981 in London. An estimated 750 million (!!!) viewers tuned in to watch.

7. Tech Takes Off: Microsoft released Microsoft Word in 1983 and IBM debuted the PC XT. The first mobile phone was also created that year, by Motorola.

6. CNN Makes Waves: Ted Turner launched the first 24-hour cable news network, CNN, in 1980.

5. The Simpsons Take Over: The Simpsons debuted on the Tracey Ullman Show in 1987 as shorts, before becoming a half-hour primetime show on Fox in 1990. It has been renewed through 2025, and will run for at least 36 years by that point!

4. Game Boy Mania: Nintendo released the Game Boy, a portable video game system, which paved the way for handheld gaming as we know it today.

Original Gameboy (Wikipedia)

3. Basketball’s New Stars: Basketball’s popularity soared with the emergence of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and, of course, Michael Jordan.

2. Historical Happenings: The decade ended with the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989, leading to the eventual end of the Cold War. I had studied abroad in Austria during college; I had one year left and wrote about the Berlin Wall falling in 1985 for a class. I got a B, but felt vindicated four years later when my prediction came true. After graduation, I lived for a year in Germany and drove through East Germany, arriving at Check Point Charlie to get into Berlin. It was a unique and interesting experience.

1. MTV Rocks the Airwaves: MTV launched with the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” playing over footage of the first space shuttle launch and Apollo 11 – the rest was history.

As a bonus, my writer is a millennial (1981-1996 timeline), and he put down his five most memorable pop culture moments of the 2000s, when he was in middle school, high school, and college:

5. Myspace/AIM: If you weren’t on Myspace and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in the mid-2000’s, were you even alive? The precursor to Facebook and other larger social networks completely dominated digital lives.

4. American Idol: I know I’m not the only one who still remembers calling the Idol phone lines to vote for my favorite contestants. Ironically, Kelly Clarkson in Season 1 might still be the most famous of them all!

Kelly Clarkson wins American Idol Season 1 (yes, that’s Ryan Seacrest on the left) (PopSugar)

3. The iPod: We have come so, so far in the last quarter-century. But back in the day, the iPod was the ultimate status symbol and the coolest way to play music (even if you still had to download scratchy tracks from illegal websites…).

2. Harry Potter: Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – I knew was reading Harry Potter. I thought it was a joke until I turned that first page. Harry Potter hysteria was very, very real in the late 90s and early 00s (and still is today?).

1. Razor Scooters: Look, I could have chosen several things to be on this list – Livestrong bracelets, Uggs, emo music, Jersey Shore – but on a personal level, nothing screams 2000s like the Razor scooter. And they still exist today!

Hopefully, this blog was a bit of fun and provided a wave of nostalgia for all our Boomers, Millennials, and other generations who experienced these pop culture phenomena!

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