Episode 491 - Getting retro right!

Aug 10, 2020

DD member Furwerk Studios posted in our forum about how annoying it was that movies try and do an 80s retro thing often get things totally wrong and end up looking dumb because of it: Not just superficial looks-wise but stylistically too in terms of the kinds of shots they do, lighting and story structure. I thought that'd make an interesting topic for a cast! Why do people often mess up retro stuff? We're not talking about historical accuracy here, that's slightly different, what we're talking about is setting something in an era and getting the “feel” of that era right. It pays off hugely when it works, but when it doesn't it comes off as superficial, disappointing and ignorant.

Topics and Show Notes

This happened a LOT recently with stuff set in the 80s because 80s fashions came back and people thought it'd be fun to capitalize on the nostalgia. Some do it right and some do it wrong. The important thing to remember when going for a retro feel is NOT to treat an entire decade as a “thing”. Decades are made up of many different fashions across many different countries! During the 1980s for example the styles at the start of the decade were much more like the late 70s and at the end they were similar to the early 90s, and in places further away from the fashion capitals older fashions lasted for longer. The 1980s weren't a decade of pink hoodies with loud patterns, shoulder-pads, big hair, denim jackets, and “momjeans”, it was a lot more varied than that and not all those things were done at the same time. Jeans are a good example: They changed shape a LOT during the 1980s, from flares at the start, straight legs, boot-legs, skinny jeans, stonewash jeans, tapered jeans with slim waists baggy legs and slim ankles, and baggy 501s. All of those cropped up at different times in the decade.

Aside from compressing entire decades just down to one “look” the other issue people run into is projecting modern styles onto the past: Mullet hairstyles in the 1980s are nothing like what they are now for example: you didn't typically shave the sides of your head or have a crewcut with long hair at the back for a mullet. Mullets existed previously, even in the 1970s, but only started to become an 80s thing in the mid 80s. Hair would be slightly longer at the back. if you wanted to highlight that you'd use gel or hairspray or something to slick down the sides of your hair to make them flat. Towards the end of the 80s mullets grew longer at the back and shorter at the front, but shaving the sides wasn't popular. Tattoos, baldness, body piercings, and facial hair were not as common in the decade either, all of them had heavy symbolism and said something about the person who had them, while today they're mainly just aesthetic choices of the individual. Tattoos meant a person was tough or had a rough life or profession. Beards were hyper masculine. Baldness meant you were tough or had an alternative lifestyle. Multiple piercings was much the same.

That said, you don't always have to go for authenticity, as long as you understand what you're doing and know how to have fun with it. Kung Fury is a good example of this. It sardonically uses an 80s retro feel while winking at the audience with its tongue in planted in its cheek. Napoleon Dynamite has a weird indeterminate 1980s feel to it while NOT actually being set in the 1980s.
Do you know any examples of retro done wrong?


This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Gumshoe - Groove on into this black and white world of cool. Lazy coiling blue smoke floats out and leads the way down to this underground world of jazz and sophisticated glitz. Let the bass walk you through, take a twirl with the glittering piano keys, high-five those highhats, and take your place at the bar in the coffee lounge. Make your’s black, no sugar. You’re staying up all night for this one!


Topics and shownotes

Links
Forum thread about bad retro attempts - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/forum/topic/178445/
Fave retro comic on DD, Satan Ninja 19X https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Satan_Ninja_198X/

Featured comic:
Hel's Ferrywomen - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/aug/04/featured-comic-hels-ferrywomen/

Featured music:
Gumshoe - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Gumshoe/, by Pencilz, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Pitface - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/


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4 likes, 3 comments

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3 likes, 3 comments

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