Pop Culture In Review for the Year 1984

1984 had several iconic pop culture moments and memorable events. Even today, these happenings are remembered, though many may not realize that they happened in this particular year. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and check out some of the occurrences that stood out the most:


Karate Kid

This classic film was the beginning of the far-reaching Karate Kid franchise. It follows the story of a teenager who learns karate to defend himself from bullies. Inspired by real-life events, the film received acclaim from critics. The writing, acting, soundtrack, storyline, and action sequences were all praised. The film was also a commercial success, grossing over $100 million from Canada and the United States alone. It’s now known as the biggest sleeper hit of Hollywood that year. Plus, it also jumpstarted Ralph Macchio’s career and revitalized the career path for Pat Morita. The film’s influence was also strong enough to popularize karate in America.


‘Ghostbusters’ was released in June 1984. This movie was about a group of friends who get together to find ghosts in haunted places. They then suck up these ghosts into a contraption that resembles a vacuum cleaner. Some of the scenes scared the viewers, but this was overall a very enjoyable comedy movie. It’s still popular today among fans of science fiction. The movie is now a cultural phenomenon and has several sequels to its name as well. According to statistics, it’s the most successful film in the comedy genre in the 1980s. It’s also preserved in the Library of Congress for its cultural significance.

After the release of the first Ghostbusters film, a spin-off animated TV show titled “The Real Ghostbusters” premiered in 1986. This animated TV show was accompanied by a toy line that was manufactured by Kenner, who was more known for producing the classic Star Wars action figures. If you want to learn more about the Ghostbusters action figures, head over to our article, “Learn About Kenner, the Company Behind the Classic Star Wars Figures.”

Sixteen Candles

This movie was just one of the coming-of-age school comedy/drama works that were so popular in the 80s. The star here was Molly Ringwald, the fiery-haired actress who is also known as the teen queen of 80s high school movies. The movie revolves around a girl who’s unsatisfied with her life but eventually comes to terms with her situation. It might be seen as extremely clichéd now, but the movie was a huge hit in its time. It’s still remembered fondly by fans of 80s movies and has been referenced in several more recent works as well.


Funds for Famine Relief

In 1984, the top musicians from Britain and Ireland got together and formed Band Aid, a charity supergroup. In a studio located in Notting Hill, the musicians sang ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ in an effort to raise funds to get famine relief in Ethiopia. The founders of this group were Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. The song was released in December 1984 and surpassed all expectations. It soon became number one on the Christmas charts that year and raised millions of dollars. The most notable participants here included George Michael, Duran Duran, Paul McCartney, Sting, and David Bowie.

Purple Rain by Prince

This year saw the making and release of one of the most signature songs by Prince. The title of the song is also the title of Prince’s 1984 album. The song ‘Purple Rain’ is still widely popular due to its powerful composition, which includes rock, orchestral music, gospel, etc. It reached second place on the US Billboard Hot 100 list and remained there for about two weeks. The top spot remained the property of Wham! ‘s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’. This song is also on Rolling Stone’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.


Untethered Walks in Space

The first untethered spacewalk by human astronauts took place on a Space Shuttle Challenger mission. The Space Shuttle launched in early February 1984; this was its 10th mission. The mission lasted almost eight days, during which astronauts attempted to walk in space without a tether. They used propulsive backpacks to stay on course. The same mission conducted many experiments and released two satellites as well.

Maiden Flight for Space Shuttle Discovery

The maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery was on August 30th, 1984. This was the third space shuttle to come into operation after the Challenger and the Columbia. The Discovery was first launched from the Kennedy Space Center, which is located in Florida. The crew had five men and a woman.

The First Macintosh

First Macintosh

The first Macintosh was released to the market in January 1984. It was the first personal computer that gained commercial success. The launch of the Macintosh was marked by an interesting yet mysterious advertisement. It features several androgynous people marching through a tunnel; in contrast, there a runner in full color who’s wearing a tank top with a picture of the Macintosh on it. She runs up to a screen featuring a Big Brother-like character and smashes it. The message is clear; the real 1984 wouldn’t be like the world portrayed in Georg Orwell’s novel ‘1984’.

Introduction of the First Portable CD Players

This year, the companies Philips and Sony introduced the first-ever portable CD players. These were an extension of the Walkman; however, they weren’t too popular until the anti-skip technology was installed inside. This technology came about in the 1990s, so offerings such as Sony’s Discman weren’t really profitable for the company.


Hulk Hogan Wins First WWF Championship

Hulk Hogan became the first-ever wrestler to escape the signature’ camel clutch’ of The Iron Sheik. The latter was the deafening WWF (World Wrestling Foundation) champion. Hogan went on to defeat Sheik and win the first WWF title of his career. Just a month before this event, the Iron Sheik had defeated Bob Backlund and ended the latter’s championship reign of six years. Since the bout was controversial, there was a rematch. However, Hulk Hogan took the place of the injured Backland. The match was over and done in a little more than 5 minutes, with Hogan emerging as the brand-new WWE champion.

The Summer Olympics

The Summer Olympics in 1984 was also called the ‘Games of the XXIII Olympiad’. They started in July and took place in Los Angeles, California. Almost 7,000 athletes took part in the events, which meant the participation of 140 countries. Since the United States had boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the Soviet Union and its allies also boycotted this event. Even with this boycott, participation was high enough to set a record. There were also certain events included in the Olympics for the first time, such as windsurfing, synchronized swimming, women’s cycling, and the women’s marathon.


John Galliano’s First Fashion Show

This was the year when John Galliano displayed his first collection in a proper fashion show. He had previously graduated from Saint Martin’s School of Art in the same year. Having a first class honors degree in Fashion Design, he soon launched a collection named ‘Les Incroyables’. The French Revolution was the inspiration for his line. The collection was received very positively and completely sold out. It was then displayed for resale at Browns, a London fashion boutique.

Menswear as Women’s Fashion

This year, it could be said that fashion for women was similar to menswear. A regular outfit might have loose trousers, a sports jacket, and a large overcoat. Some women even went so far as to cut their hair in a bold, short style. Many say that Giorgio Armani was responsible for this look due to his groundbreaking Fall 1984 collection. Overall, this was a good year for this designer, especially as he received the Gold Eye Award. The boyish appearance he preferred was evident in Italy as well as Britain and France. The top American manufacturers also copied the look as it gave them a simple and practical canvas to work with.

Separates in Style

Separates were quite an important part of any wardrobe in 1984. This meant that one could swap a blouse for a sweater, or wear jackets with pants or skirts. Of course, the large overcoat could come in handy for going over any type of outfit.

The Counter-Trend

Some people rebelled against the loose, baggy look and opted for tight, fitted clothing. They would also go for right, searing colors such as yellow and pink for their coats, suits, and dresses.

The Return of London

1984 saw the return of London as one of the major fashion capitals of the world. It had previously dominated youth fashion during the 60s. Designers such as Jasper Conran, Body Map, Jean Muir, and Zandra Rhodes were making their mark in American stores right beside fashions from Milan and Paris.


Michael Jackson and Pepsi

Pepsi is known for its collaborations with celebrities, and this year was Michael Jackson’s turn. Interestingly, his commercial also showed a young, then-unknown Alfonso Ribeiro. The latter went on to play Carlton in Will Smith’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. Another major incident around this point was that Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire while filming the commercial. In fact, it’s said that the burns were so severe that they triggered a painkiller addiction. This may have led to the musician’s ultimate demise.

The First Airing of the MTV Video Music Awards

Back when MTV was still known mainly for music videos, the first airing of their award show was a major event. The awards included a performance by Madonna, who dressed up as a bride to sing ‘Like a Virgin’. The performance was considered quite risqué back then,


Indira Gandhi

Hong Kong Given to China

The Hong Kong debate still remains today, but it is said to have started in 1984. On December 19th of this year, the United Kingdom and China came to an agreement about this region. It was decided that Hong Kong will be given to China. Previously, it was under British control after the First Opium War. This agreement resulted in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which said that Hong Kong would operate like one country but have two systems. This was so that Hong Kong would keep the democratic and capitalist systems it had acquired while still being part of China and its Communist rule.

The Assassination of Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first Prime Minister of India. She was appointed as Prime Minister in 1966 and was quite a popular leader in the beginning. However, she faced accusations of electoral corruption in 1972 and was convicted of the crime in 1975. Instead of resigning, she censored the civilian liberties of her rivals by declaring a state of emergency. In June 1984, she sent Indian troops to do away with some Sikh dissidents in Amritsar. This led to a Sikh uprising, and Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards on October 31st.

The First Helium Balloon Solo Transatlantic Flight

Colonel Joe Kittinger was a flight record breaker and had also served as a pilot in the Air Force. He traveled in a helium balloon from one end of the Atlantic Ocean to the other in September 1984. The beginning of his journey was in Caribou, Main, and he landed in the Italian city of Montenotte. The flight took 86 hours and was almost 3,500 miles long. Before this, Kittinger was also known for setting records for the longest free fall, the highest parachute jump, etc. Since he retired from military service, he also helped others to break parachuting and flying records.

Cabbage Patch Kids Get More Than $2 Million in Retail Sales

It was reported that toy company Coleco and their Cabbage Patch Kids dolls generated more than $2 billion in retail sales by 1984. In order to keep up with the demand for the dolls, Coleco canceled its advertising campaign in order to focus more on producing bigger batches of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. Cabbage Patch Kids became one of the best-selling toys in 1984 despite being launched two years before. To know more about these popular dolls, read about The Interesting Origins of Cabbage Patch Kids.

Tonka Released the Pound Puppies Stuffed Toys

In 1984, Tonka (a popular manufacturer of toy trucks) released a new toy line called Pound Puppies. Pound Puppies were stuffed toys with “adoption certificates” that made children feel like they adopted an actual puppy instead of buying a regular stuffed toy. These Pound Puppies were quite popular in the 1980s, and it even spawned two animated shows and one feature film. To know more about these stuffed toys and its original manufacturer, Tonka, check out our article. “Learn About Tonka, the Popular Manufacturer of Toy Trucks.”


The Unbearable Lightness of Being

‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ is a novel in the magic realism genre. It’s about the lives of some people and a dog in the Prague Spring period in the country of Czechoslovakia. The novel is set in 1968 and revolved around the displacement of the characters when their country was invaded by the Soviet Union. The work itself is an eye-opening journey, with strong symbols and themes that impressed the world of literature. After reading this work, one may never look at a bowler hat in the same way again.

Related posts: