The first thirty items of my Top 50 Pop Culture Items of the Past 50 Years list have been revealed. Today I will divulge the next ten items. Again, I have to mention how fascinating and peculiar this project became, as I had to decide how to lump and split so many things and further how to rank them. Was the Pet Rock more popular than the Magic Eightball? How do Rickie Tickie Stickers compare to Big Hair of the 80s? Was the Slacker Movement more influential than Tupperware Parties?
One can see how I had to make the really important decisions for all of this! Um…yeah; anyway – here are the items #20 to #11:
|#20||Rubik’s Cube||It is the world’s top selling puzzle game with sales continuing even today. Its popularity was so great that period films, such as The Pursuit of Happyness and The Wedding Singer, place it in the film to help define the setting. However, one should note that Chris Gardner did not actually work the cube in real life as the movie portrayed. The puzzle lives on, although not selling as it did in 1980, but today it remains instantly identifiable, appearing in a Maroon 5 music video, DC comics’ Final Crisis and in the movie Night at the Museum, Smithsonian.|
|#19||Laugh In||The comedy variety show of the last 60s and early 70s. Its burlesque style of entertainment adapted for television became wildly popular. The show launched the careers of Goldie Hawn, Dave Madden and Lil Tomlin and gave us catch phrases like “Sock it to me!” and “And that’s the truth…phldlplh.”|
|#18||F•R•I•E•N•D•S||Originally titled Insomnia Café, the series portrayed Generation X post-college young adults trying to figure out their futures. The feeling of questioning one’s future was universal enough to create a following show for ten years. The Ross-Rachel romance was a key factor of the plot and came to its conclusion in the fourth most popular finale of all time.|
|#17||John Hughes Films||”Bueller? Bueller?” “The Donger need food!” “If you ever get the chance, shower with them.” “What was that ruckus?” Quotes from most any John Hughes film is still instantly recognizable, even by a newer generation of movie watchers. His films uniquely identified the awkwardness of the teen years and gave a voice to those trying to fit into the social order.|
|#16||Cabbage Patch Kids||If you think Beanie Babies was a crazy fad, know that it had nothing on the Cabbage Patch Kids. The dolls allure in 1983 led to riots and violence as shoppers fought over inventory, a toy consumer first on such a wide scale. Controversy seemed to follow this line as the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards were a grotesque parody of the product, but then perhaps mockery is how one recognizes success in toy markets.|
|#15||M*A*S*H||The TV series about the mobile hospital in Korea was more than funny; it was about bearing the unbearable through humor. The hit show’s series finale still holds the record of most watched episode in US TV history by percentage and market share, beating out Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends and any SuperBowl.|
|#14||Y2K Fear||Almost laughable today, but during the closing months of 1999 a very real fear of a technological apocalypse was pervasive in not only America but the world. Although the problem was real, the unhandled issues turned out to be minor.|
|#13||Saturday Night Fever||The Bee Gees sang “Stayin’ Alive” as Travolta performed his epic dance-walk down the Brooklyn street. Camera angles on Travolta’s backside, his dance moves, the escapism into another world were things that won over the audience. Originally released as a Rated-R film, the popularity and demand of younger viewers trying to see the film caused the producers to re-release the film the following year under a PG rating.|
|#12||The Olsen Twins||The twin girls playing the one character of Michelle on Full House somehow turned their childhood acting career into a media frenzy , making campy films starring the duo which became the coveted media of girls the same age. Shortly after, the twins moved into the clothing market, fragrances and their likenesses have been sold as dolls. While not having necessarily the iconic longevity of other celebrities, the Olsen twins have soared and re-soared in the industry and are instantly identified by name or face.|
|#11||SMS Language||Jargon has always had its place in American Pop culture. There have been trends of speech, like using CB-radio lingo, talking nerdy or speaking jive. However, since the introduction of texting on cell phones, acronyms have worked their way into everyday language and the English language is experiencing a transformation. People are deliberately misspelling words for their phonetic or abbreviated form and it is being nearly universally understood.|
Only ten left. What will they be? All to be revealed next time.