Sunday, April 21, 2013


As a retro blogger, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I feel I have neglected posting about the decade of my teen years - the Eighties. Part of this may be due to the fact that I had rough time during my junior high and high school years. I have some bad memories of that era.

Don't get me wrong, I love quite a bit of the pop culture of the Eighties. The problem is those who felt it necessary to push me around and make my life a living Hell wanted to denigrate what music, movies, TV and clothes made me happy. They wanted me to change and like things they found acceptable.

I've noticed that the Facebook poster/banner machine has begun romanticizing certain elements of the Eighties which didn't interest me in my teen years. It is a view that the world was a happy place in the Eighties. I was getting beat up by Donny Dickweed and turned down by Eunice Moneymaker, so I didn't find the Eighties to be a great time. Also anyone watching an old TV newscast or reading a newspaper would see that there was trouble then as there is today.

If you want a funny and rather accurate look back at the Eighties, go to You Tube and look up Spitting Image. This was a satirical puppet show (Yes, I said puppet show) that ran on British television from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. No world leader nor entertainment personality was safe from being transformed into a hideous puppet with a giant head.

If the puppet's looks weren't enough to garner a laugh, the writers twisted the personalities to an extreme. Mikael Gorbachev birthmark was replaced by a red hammer and sickle. Margret Thatcher was a cigar chomping boss-from-Hell with Norman Tebitts as her leather-wearing Teddy Boy henchman. Ronald Reagan was a scatterbrained goofball with square-headed Ed Meece and vampirish (Think Nosferatu/London After Midnight) Casper Weinberger at his side. Princess Di was a Valley Girl (The Brits call them Sloan Rangers) and Prince Charles was a boring doofus, with Prince William having a voice and personality like Martin Stephens in Village of the Damned, constantly plotting against the family. Queen Elizabeth was hopelessly out of touch with reality, while her mother was a feisty grandma who drank gin and bet on horses.

Celebrities got it too. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was constantly passing gas. Micheal Jackson wore a space helmet and got whiter (Once he turned into Diana Ross). Madonna not only changed clothes and hairstyles during songs, her nipples gave interviews. Bob Dylan was a middle aged guy writing protest songs about things that annoyed him (Losing his undershorts, cheese molding etc).

British rock icon were picked on as well. Cliff Richard was a sainted virgin. Paul McCartney was recycling the same songs over and over. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were always stoned. Ozzy Osbourne was shown to secretly be a "nice boy from Sheffield" and Boy George was catty.

According to the Spitting Image milieu, Ed McMahon and Bill Cosby were secretly running America, Sly Stallone was an idiot, Jack Nicholson never stopped smiling, tennis champ Evan Lyndel was a corpse, Richard Chamberlin's face was pulled tight with clamps, Cher was all plastic and Al Pachino, Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman couldn't tell each other apart.

The show was huge in England, but the success couldn't transfer over to America. NBC tried a few hour long TV specials. While critics loved the show, ratings were not very good. Supposedly, the "humor was too rough for Americans." Americans frequently trash the clips on You Tube, but of course, these are probably Tea Party idiots, whose idea of humor is to Photoshop President Obama's face to look like the Joker from The Dark Knight or Photoshop Rosie O'Donnell's head on to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's body. In other words, the American who don't like Spitting Image wouldn't know comedy if it bit them in the ass.

However, the place most American's became familiar with the Spitting Image puppets were through the video to the Genesis hit "Land of Confusion." There are people trashing it on You Tube and, locally, when KYTV's Ethan Forhetz featured it in a countdown of 80s music videos on, Ozarkers were complaining about how they hated it.

Which leads me to believe, I'm the only person in America that liked Spitting Image. It's satirical comedy was an influence on the old blog. I concur with many of the British comments on You Tube, that it would be great to see a show like this on TV again. What killed Spitting Image was the cost of making the puppets. It was very expensive.

I should note that within the last two weeks, there has been a surge of hits on old Spitting Image clips on You Tube among Brits. The clips they are watching are all of the Margret Thatcher character, especially this one, with characters singing the Moody Blues hit "Go Now." Since it is spring, I'm going to throw in Spitting Image's parody of the bubble gummy dance hits of the British duo Black Label. Who could really hate that?


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