It was a strange, transitional time between the Seventies and the Eighties. Jimmy Carter was President, and got a challenge for the Democratic nomination from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Yes, Carter was that unpopular among his own party that he got a strong challenge from his left-sound familiar?
Carter, of course, held on to the nomination, but his troubles were many that year, as the hostage crisis in Iran dragged on and the economy went into a deep recession. It was little wonder, then, that Ronald Reagan emerged as a voice of optimism to challenge Carter’s malaise:
With all that was going on, it was perhaps not so strange that people were looking for escapism. They found it at the movies-two classic comedies, Caddyshack and Airplane!, along with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, were among the year’s biggest movies. One of the stranger ones, however, was Altered States, which tried to combine mushroom-induced hallucinations with weird evolutionary theories, or, can taking acid turn you into an Ape Man?
The real transformation was in music. Disco was on the way out, but dance songs were still making the charts. New Wave had become mainstream. In late Fall, however, AC DC’s “Back in Black” came out. Music was nothing if not diverse that year:
But the saddest moment of that year came that December with the untimely death of John Lennon. Lennon had released his comeback album, Double Fantasy, just three weeks earlier. The man responsible for his death, Mark David Chapman, is currently serving a 20 years-to-life sentence.
Other events of that year included the eruption of Mount St. Helens and the American-led boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. But it was also the year of the “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics, and the debut of Pac Man.
So that was 1980, a year of lows and highs, and transition. And bewilderment.