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Every era and certain epoch have its aesthetic coherence. Looking at some object or remembering certain event, we can identify to which period of time it belongs. Moreover, we can even describe some features of this period. In order to study history, scientist gather data and memoires, but the best “source of information” for all historians is the artifact from the defined era or epoch.
In this paper, we are going to provide a critical of evidence and the temperament of the time period through the analysis of the artifacts from this period. The period of time under study is the 1980’s and the artifacts taken are the sneakers, power dressing and Hubba Bubba.
According to Roy Shuker: “Early 1980’s were an international phenomenon. Subculture styles developed naturally out of their immediate context, reworking commercial popular culture into a subculture which reflected and made sense of their structural social location. (176).
This period is characterized by rise of new fashion industry, computer games, fast food and TV shows. The cult of “rich and famous” experienced a fast rise, and later a quick fall. In the early 1980’s, labels were extremely important. A new generation was obsessed with video games, sports (aerobics is the most famous), and numerous “talk shows” discussing the everyday problems.
Youth subcultures were also fast developing. One of the most popular was the hip-hop culture which has its traces nowadays as well. The young people expressed their attitudes through their behavior, clothes and communication. The things that were the most important to them can be considered the artifacts which “preserve” the mood of the 80’s and serve great “information” about the popular culture of 1980’s.
Research of the Sneakers, Power Dressing and Hubba Bubba
According to the dictionary, “an artifact may be defined as an object that has been intentionally made or produced for a certain purpose” (Hilpinen n. p.). As it has already been mentioned, artifacts are the best “informants” about the character of the time of their production.
Analyzing the artifacts, scientists study their function and usage. Sociologists need artifacts to learn about the characteristics of the society and issues that define a certain era, “the cultural artifacts were seen as objects in which they could see their central values held and reflected” (Shuker 176).
Such artifacts as sneakers, power dressing and Hubba Bubba gum are united by one idea: they characterize a new way of thinking, lifestyle and behavior of people of the period, and they are “unconscious and unintentional conveyors of attitudes, values and beliefs. They moved people to act in a culturally appropriate manner” (Cunningham and Lab 6).
The sneakers became very popular in the 1980’s: “Sneakers were so popular (and necessary) and the price so high that the Los Angeles Police Department accused shoe companies of cashing in on the easy drug money picked up by inner city kids”. (“American Cultural History”).
The reason for the popularity of this kind of shoes was the rise of the popularity of sports. These shoes were the best decision for those who were into sport activities. Though they were very expensive, they were very comfortable comparing to other sport shoes. They dictated new clothes, new style new behavior. Young people adored sneakers and everyone desired to have a pair.
Another artifact of the 80’s is so called “power dress”.
This style presupposed jackets with broad shoulders and fashionable clothes. Finally, women felt that they could be strong, independent and extremely stylish. This style was introduced through the media influence, in particular, by such dramas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty”, “fashion history reveals that the 80’s fashion look was a tailored look.
It was hard to go anywhere without at least a jacket, but preferably a complete suit” (“Fashion Influences of the 1980’s” n. p.). New look was also inspired by elegance of Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana. Thus, these artifacts show that in 1980’s fashion came into an everyday life.
The artifact of the 1980’s consumerism culture is the growth of popularity of fast food and Hubba Bubba Chewing Gum.
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The gum was a symbol of freedom, youth and fun. Every young man and woman of the 80’s is depicted with the gum. Gradually, the gum acquired some connotative meaning on the TV: a cool guy had sneakers, broad shouldered jacket and, of course, a Hubba Bubba Chewing Gum.
As it has already been mention, all the artifacts mentioned earlier were popularized and distributed by means of television and advertizing. TV is the most influential means and stile and way of life were dictated through it. Thus, it is no wonder that 1980’s lifestyle and appearance was the one which we can see in ads and popular dramas of the time.
Development of the popular culture is a constant process. The products of this process are the artifacts that have a great meaning for the understanding of a certain époque. Examining the artifacts, we can learn about the society, culture, beliefs and lifestyle of people, define what the basis for development of these beliefs was and how people expressed them in the articles of clothes, and other material objects.
These days the artifacts (such as articles of clothes) are used while creating certain images in order to show the air of a definite period of time. In general, artifacts define the era and people, “artifacts provide concrete evidence of past cultural beliefs and practices, they are the primary sources of cultures” (Cunningham and Lab 6).
The artifact of the 1980’s define this epoch as a new great step forward, new stage of development of modern America culture and lifestyle. They describe this epoch also as a free and sport-loving time. During the 80’s, a youth culture flourished and new consumerism culture was developed.
It must be said that power dress Hubba Bubba Chewing Gum and sneakers are one of the brightest artifacts of the 1980’s and define the era under study. These artifacts present the temperament and aesthetics of the time period and characterize lives of people of the 1980’s and their attitudes to the better world.
“American Cultural History”. Lone Star College – Kingwood. Web.
Cunningham, Patricia Anne, and Susan Voso Lab. Dress and Popular Culture. Popular Press, 1991.
“Fashion Influences of the 1980’s”. Fasion-Era. Web.
Hilpinen, Risto. “Artifact”. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
Shuker, Roy. Understanding Popular Music. London: Routledge, 1994.