top of page

GenZ is Grooving To The 80s Beat!

The 1980s can be described as a whirlwind of iconic moments and cultural phenomena: Walkman, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Amitabh Bachchan, Tinkle, Mr. India, and the World Cup. It was an era marked by simplicity, where teenagers were free to experience the innocence and purity of youth, unburdened by the complexities of modern life. Life in the 1980s revolved around eagerly anticipating the next film from stars like Amitabh Bachchan or Govinda. Today's generation finds many aspects of that decade appealing, from Hollywood to Bollywood, whether it's enjoying vinyl records or watching classic 1980s movies. GenZ is reviving 1980s trends in various ways, reflecting a cultural parallel between the two eras that resonates with today's youth. Is this revival merely a nostalgic trend, or is it a retreat from the complexities of contemporary life?

Gen Z is reviving 1980s trends including music, movies, fashion and culture

The 1980s was a dynamic era for pop culture both in India and globally. In the US, iconic films like "Back to the Future" and "The Shining" captured the public's imagination. In India, Amitabh Bachchan dominated the silver screen, Govinda became a household name, and Rekha captivated everyone with her sharp wit and timeless beauty. Globally, youth movements gained momentum, and teenagers began to assert their voices. It was a memorable era, significantly calmer compared to the complexities of 2024.

Today, beneath the surface of our society, there's a pervasive sense of unease. Numerous factors contribute to the heightened anxiety and stress experienced by Generation Z. To truly understand the contrast between the lives of teenagers in 2024 and those in the 1980s, it's essential to examine the cultural and political climates of each era and their impacts on adolescent mental well-being.

Movies in the 80s were all the rage and are being remembered by Gen Z as well

During the 1980s, young people were only beginning to realise their power in voting and that their opinions were being heard. However, because it was the beginning, the young population's minds were dominated by the thriving business and popular culture industries in India and around the world. The 1980s were known as the era of 'larger-than-life' films and expanding business ideas. Materialism had taken over society, fueling the mindset of earning large sums of money. Aside from the blockbuster 'masala’ films that were being released, the youth were excited about the new ventures of business. With liberal economic policies rolling out the government, the youth could dream big and even achieve those dreams. That was the wonder of the 80s globally. Ultimately, for the young adults of the 1980s, things were still hopeful and optimism was in the atmosphere as the world was advancing. 

In 2024, however, things are quite different. In today's world, the youth's voice has deafened the masses into paying attention to the next generation. The youth must take action for their future, as it appears that those in power have no plans for the years ahead. No longer does the job market appeal to youngsters, as prices continue to skyrocket and a job is not guaranteed without a Master, the cost which calls for hefty loans and increasing interest rates. Zoomers cannot be called materialistic in this age and time when securing education is not feasible and the normal commodities of life that were affordable in the 80s are no longer within the means. Buying a house in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. is a dream a young adult cannot afford. Capitalism was a gift in the 80s, but a curse for years afterward. Furthermore, the tremendous adversity and competition for jobs in the economy are at unprecedented levels, as there are not enough jobs to accommodate the number of graduates. Add on the impending effects of climate change and global warming, and today’s generation is hopeless for their futures. The uncertainty of their future is setting in now. Such issues about Gen Z force them to rethink the lives they would possibly lead, which includes whether or not to have children. According to an article by Newsweek, more than 50% of Gen Z and Millenial young adults are refusing to have children. This mainly pertains to the inflation in the economy. These facts and statistics simply demonstrate the extent of strain on teenager's minds right now, as they are already facing tough decisions regarding their economic, social and environmental future. 

This strain has resulted in higher levels of anxiety within the young generation. According to a study, girls are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to boys. The rates of boys and girls having anxiety have increased since the 1980s, as the environmental threats surrounding them have continued to increase. Environmental threats include unstable home environment, pressure in social environments, etc. In another 2019 study, results revealed that 1 out of 5 Indian adolescents has some level of mental morbidity. The reality being faced by the younger generation of our world is less than grim. This distressing situation leaves them to find an outlet for escape from their reality, and some of the youngsters have found a suitable channel — the 80s. Astonishing for sure, but somewhere it connects. The era of the 1980s was filled with exciting new ideas and ventures for the youth to explore. Similarly, the youth of now is exploring the 80s. Gen Z is slowly but surely reminiscing the nostalgia of the 80s. 

Reels trending on Instagram showcasing how people danced happily in the 80s

There have been a few facets from the 1980s that have captured the hearts of teenagers worldwide. In terms of fashion, Sridevi's iconic chiffon sarees have made their way into not only the Bollywood scene but also the wardrobes of all Indian fashionistas. It gained popularity after Alia Bhatt wore it in the hit film 'Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahani'. Aside from wardrobe influences, one of the primary areas of interest is film. Generation Z has developed a strong liking for films such as The Shining, Mr.India, and Satte Pe Satta. Additionally, riveting movies like Sparsh and Dead Poets Society remain sources of inspiration and motivation for young adults today. But why the sudden infatuation with the era? The resurrection of the 80s is not a trend; it is becoming a lifestyle influence. From vintage cameras to fashion, interior design, and even political ideals, the new generation is awakening aspects of the 1980s that are noteworthy and compelling. There are new playlists on Spotify and other music platforms solely dedicated to 80s music, and vinyl records are all the hype again! Apart from the temporal aspects, there has been a trend on social media where kids ask their parents who grew up in the 80s, to dance like they did back in that era. And the parents would bust out hip and groovy moves to classic 80s songs, a far cry from the current standard of dance, which has the bad taste of TikTok all over it. These reels boast the jovial demeanour that the teens of the 80s had towards life; a trait Gen Z longingly lusts for

The world has come a long way from the 1980s. Globalisation and liberalisation have expanded the doors of all young kids giving them new opportunities to grow. Yet entering the 21st century, the doors remain stagnant with herds of people hanging on by their fingernails. With media portraying the new generation as rude, selfish, weird and ‘out of touch’, the more Gen Z is driven to get further away from the burdens of this society. The 1980s was a momentous era which would provide new ventures and occasions for the generations to come. Nonetheless, it fell short for young adults in 2024. To escape the pandemonium of society today, Gen Z goes back to where it all started and brings back what made the 80s known and remembered: its vibrant, nonchalant and ecstatic culture. 

It’s time to fill the grim world with some neon colours!